New Straits Times
Monday, February 8, 2010
A good year is in store for the ICT industry in 2010, the Year of the Metal Tiger, says feng shui consultant Master Clamond Ng.
From the chart he plotted for the period between 5am and 6.59am on Feb 4, which marks the start of the Year of the Metal Tiger, he sees an abundance of wood, an element of the Chinese Cycle of Five Elements (water, wood, fire, earth and metal).
“Since the ICT sector is represented by fire, it will do well as wood feeds fire,” says Ng, who is also managing director of Wealthy Purpose Sdn Bhd.
He believes that many companies will start placing orders to upgrade their IT systems and infrastructure this year.
“This will not be a one-time business, but a continuous one,” he says, explaining that the abundance of wood will keep the fire burning continuously.
“Sales and orders will keep pouring in, and this will be obvious from March until July.”
But another feng shui consultant, Master Jason Eng, sees the year to be average for the ICT industry.
“The year comes with lots of wood element, but without water. This indicates a dry year. It will also be a challenging year because the elements are not balanced,” says Eng, who is on the panel of WOFS.com Sdn Bhd, a global chain of all things feng shui.
The lace of the water element is based on his reading of the birth chart of the Year of the Tiger at 6.48am on Feb 4.
So, water is the lucky element the year, Eng points out, adding that the metal element will be a strong influence.
“From the chart, the abundance of wood indicates that there is a wealth of opportunities for the ICT industry, but there may be no growth since there is no water,” he explains.
“The first half of the year will be competitive with improvement to be seen in the second half.”
He advises industry players to be innovative to grow and sustain their business.
“They also need to be creative, be focused and come up with business strategies to make profits in the short term.
“The best months for the ICT business are the second half of February and March, and the first half of August and September. Overall, the second half of the year should be better than the first half,” he says.
Ng shares Eng’s views, saying that industry players will have to set their goals clearly and aim high.
Among businesses governed by the fire element, according to Ng, are those in digital arts and 3-D animation, and commercial production houses dealing in advertisements. “They will do very well this year.”
For organizations thinking of updating their IT equipment or getting new or more efficient solutions, Ng says this year is the right time to do so.
“Even for individuals, this is a good year to refresh personal IT equipment.
“Hardware is getting cheaper, better, faster and fancier. With the Government’s subsidy of RM50 per month for two years for broadband services and netbook purchases for students, more will be encouraged to spend on computer products. This will lead to a better outlook for the ICT industry, as judged from the reading of the chart.
“Government servants are also getting loans to purchase computers every three years, and this will boost computer sales in the Year of the Tiger.”
For personal development, Ng believers that spending more time in front of the computer can help. “It’s like deriving more fire energy from your computer, and this will make you more productive in return,” he explains.
Eng, meanwhile, recommends boosting the water element by having gadgets related to water around your home or at the office.
“If you have a water fountain, place it in the North-West section of your office, room or house,” he says, highlighting those in the computer business to do so to improve their business.
“Everyone should carry a water globe keychain or a Ho Tu element or a water pendant to give a boost to the water element.”
Ng sees the services sector comprising a diverse package of hardware, software, support, maintenance, customization, consultation and solutions as a fire element. So, the outlook for the services sector looks bright, he says.
But he advises players to focus more on the frontliners, including sales managers and consultants who meet clients and propose solutions to them.
“It is very important to groom the frontliners well. When they look good, the fire element is made stronger. Get them into an image makeover workshop, or invite an image consultant to improve your sales team’s appeal. Once your sales team sparkles, your sales figures will also shine,” he explains.
The telecommunications sector comprising voice transportation or traffic, data transmission, broadband services, Wi-Fi connectivity and networking solutions, is likened to the water element.
Since the water element is lacking this year, Ng says the sector is expected to be flat.
“Expect no major breakthroughs or improvements from this sector. We hear that many of the companies may roll out their new packages and services using the latest or fastest data transmission technology this year. However, there could be some obstacles that would affect the rollout such as low demand or lack of resources to provide full-capacity service.”
The sector may need assistance from the Government, which is represented by the metal element.
“Metal produces water, and with metal the huge wood element can be muted. This translates to mean that companies may have to depend on the power of the authority to level the playing ground so every player has a fair share to survive,” Ng says.
Since hardware, which is governed by the metal element, feeds off the fire element (electricity), it will most likely lead the sub-sectors in terms of growth, according to Ng.
“Notebooks, LCD monitors, servers, networking devices, mobile devices, gadgets and accessories will experience improved sales.
“For hardware vendors, there is really nothing much to worry about. They just need to keep up what they are doing.”
But Eng sees this year as challenging and competitive for the hardware segment.
“When there is too much metal, it creates competitiveness,” he point out.
The software segment, including off-the-shelf applications and custom-made ones, may experience a more competitive environment this year because software is considered a wood element.
“Since this year has an excess of wood, there is still business to be made. But there are also many competitors eyeing for the same projects. So, software vendors must be aggressive in differentiating their companies and solutions from competitors’. This translates into investing in advertising and marketing campaigns,” Ng explains.
“Since software writing is of the wood element and advertising is regarded as fire, matching the two will enable a software company to make its brand more recognizable in the market, hence improve business.”
What industry analysts say
Looks like the outlook for the ICT industry based on feng shui readings is not too far off the mark when compared with recent growth projections by market analysts.
In the latest IDC Worldwide Black Book, which provides new and updated forecasts for IT spending in over 50 countries, hardware spending is expected to continue to be robust globally this year with a five per cent growth. Software and IT services spending will also grow this year by two per cent and three per cent respectively.
The research firm expects global PC spending to increase by three per cents this year, up from the previous forecase of two per cent, while the forecase for servers, storage, hardcopy peripherals and network equipment has also been raised.
The outlook for software and services spending reflects the lower value of contracts signed last year, with continued caution towards new project-based spending in mature economies.
As for the Asia-Pacific, IDC sees the region experiencing a six per cent growth in IT spending this year, following a one per cent decline last year.
Forrester Research also anticipates software and computer hardware to see the greatest growth globally, as it sees a new multi-year cycle of technology investment growth and innovation defined by smart computing.
Smart computing, according to Forrester Reach, rests on new foundation technologies such as service-oriented architecture, server and storage virtualisation, cloud computing and unified communications. This year marks the beginning of the next phase of technology advancement, says the research firm.
As for growth of the sectors, the firm projects hardware and software to lead.
Global purchases of computer equipment are projected to be up by 8.2 per cent, communications equipment up by 7.6 per cent, software up by 9. 7 per cent, IT consulting and systems integration services up by 6.8 per cent, and IT outsourcing sercives up by 7.1 per cent.
For Gartner, IT spending worldwide will rise by 4.6 per cent this year. Though modest, the growth will show much needed improvement over last year when spending dipped 4.6 per cent from 2008.
Gains are expected in all major segments of the IT market, including hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications. This latest forecast is also higher than Gartner’s pervious prediction from last quarter when the firm did not expect IT spending to hit 2008 levels until next year.