Since entering ASEAN and launching a regional hub in Singapore almost two years ago, Nextgen is powering ahead with plans to build presence in key markets across Southeast Asia with established offices and a streamlined portfolio of channel offerings.
Like many new entrants in Asia in recent years, the distributor is paying close attention to the booming cyber security sector, underpinned by a go-to-market strategy anchored around four key pillars: cyber security, data management, enterprise software and cloud.
"We are seeing huge demand and a lot of activity around cyber security," said Wendy O’Keeffe, executive vice president and managing director of Nextgen Asia. "Our business strategy leads with software and cloud and as a start-up, we want to begin with that in mind. We also have a great opportunity to bring a lot of new technology to market, so that’s exciting."
Such focus comes as no surprise as research highlights a spike in demand for security services since the rise of remote working. Analyst firm Canalys, for instance, found that cyber security spending soared globally by 10 per cent to hit $53 billion in 2021. The segment out-performed all other IT segments except business continuity and workforce productivity, which took precedence during the pandemic.
Additionally, and according to GlobalData, cyber security has become a boardroom priority, with mentions in company earnings briefings seeing a rise since the second quarter of 2020 with data suggesting a nearly 33 per cent growth in the first half of 2021 compared with the year before.
GlobalData also found that discussions specific to cyber security-related risk were up by around 30 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, while it was up in the first half of 2021 by two per cent compared to the corresponding six-month period in 2020.
"The 2020 digital boom got everyone talking about cyber security," said Rinaldo Pereira, business fundamentals analyst at GlobalData. "Firms are now discussing tech themes such as cloud and big data much more regularly, and deals and M&As (mergers and acquisitions) in this area are also frequently on the table."
In other words, the market opportunity is accelerating rapidly for Nextgen in Southeast Asia.
Sizing up cyber attack ‘surge’
The global trend can similarly be seen in Asia, with enterprises ramping up investment in solutions to combat rising cyber threats. According to GlobalData, revenue for managed security services will hit $17 billion by 2024.
The study suggests that security risks, and ransomware incidents particularly, have been forcing enterprises across the region to search for "trusted and competent" security services providers. Countries like Indonesia and Australia are expected to see the highest compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 5.2 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively during the forecast period.
"The key factor driving the increased spending by enterprises on the managed security services market is the rise in cyber attacks [including direct, indirect and induced], resulting in significant losses to enterprises," added Rohit Sharma, senior technology analyst at GlobalData.
"Additionally, due to lack of skilled cyber security professionals, enterprises are looking for trusted partners, thereby resulting in the growth of the segment."
Such data aligns well with Nextgen’s plans in the region. To date, the distributor has established entities in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, with the team in Singapore "growing steadily" during the past 12-24 months.
According to O’Keeffe, plans are also in place expand headcount across all offices as the business continues to on-board partners and vendors. "If I think about the next 12 months, the strategy is to double down on those four markets," she said.
However, O’Keeffe admitted that hiring people remains the biggest challenge yet – especially in Singapore.
"It's actually become such an issue in Singapore," she acknowledged. "What we're seeing is a hotly contested market. We might find someone that we want to hire but they’ve already got three offer letters from other companies.
"But we’re at that level now – we’re competing like we're in a bidding war and it’s tough in a small market. Outside of Singapore we’ve had great success in the Philippines and Indonesia in terms of people."
Beyond executing a rapid growth strategy in the four markets, Nextgen also has plans to invest in emerging countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Bangladesh.
"We're looking to put together business cases for setting up entities in those territories," O’Keeffe shared. "That’s what we’re looking at as a growth engine."
Irrespective of hiring challenges however, O’Keeffe believes that "growth is out there" for the blossoming business in ASEAN.
"The company is still in its infancy," she noted. "We see growth opportunities everywhere. If we had a conversation four years from now it would be more of a checkpoint on things."
To cut through all the noise and compete in such a saturated market, O’Keeffe shared Nextgen's "non-negotiable" overarching philosophy as a new player in the market: staying focused on customer service. This forms the company's "biggest priority" amid plans to become the most "responsive, adaptable, and versatile" when dealing with customers.
"John Walters, our CEO and founder, has been really supportive about the strategy in Asia," she shared. "This is a four-to-six-year investment plan because you've got to invest first in order to make things happen.
"So we're doubling down on four markets and accelerating growth in a couple of other markets. In other words, we're focused on putting more people on the ground to capitalise on the growth opportunities in Asia."