4 key terms for tech enterprises in asia: Talent, Artificial Intelligence, Chindia, CBD

Technology in Asia is developing rapidly and tech companies themselves, their workforces, facilities, location and investment strategies need to keep pace. 

To chart the changes and identify actionable insights, Colliers International interviewed 12 major tech companies in depth since summer 2017, from Asia-founded to Western MNCs operating in Asia across hardware, software, platform and tech service enterprises. 

From our research with these major tech companies, four terms describe the key issues and areas of strategic change for technology enterprises in Asia: Talent, “Chindia”, CBD+ and AI (artificial intelligence, which we see as a form of “assisted intelligence”).

Acquiring talent is the greatest challenge facing the sector. Talent is concentrated near specific cities in key markets, notably China and India – which for the purpose of this report we have grouped as “Chindia”. These markets offer the highest growth potential but, more importantly, exposure to China is vital to learning and benefiting from new developments in e-commerce, mobile internet and AI. 

To retain talent, technology groups need to move toward the CBD or CBD fringe; campus sites are unlikely to attract skilled staff for key roles. AI may be seen to reduce occupier demand for space, but will also support high-value human roles, which require modern workspace in central locations, and fuel productivity. This will drive future growth and returns for technology companies.

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Acquisition of talent is the greatest challenge that tech companies face, ranking far ahead of other constraints; this was cited as the key problem in 40% of responses to our question on the subject. The enterprises in our study have particular respect for the tech education and ecosystem in China, with Beijing and North China, Shanghai and East China and India (notably Bangalore) being key sources of talent.

Talent is getting younger, with millennials the top or joint top employee age group for two-thirds of the companies. Companies may need to locate in CBDs or within the fringes of CBDs to access the best talent pool. This is where internet and IT experts are located, and they form the group predicted to be in highest demand in future, followed by hardware experts.


Artificial intelligence

Technology companies should harness AI to drive growth and boost returns. AI should be seen as a productivity enhancement tool, when blended with high value human roles, leading to “assisted intelligence” and driving value creation in the tech sector more than any other.  

The convergence of AI, the Internet of Things and alternative workplace solutions – with agile working the best design for many technology groups – looks set to transform the office, making it more collaborative, greener and healthier. This will help in acquiring and retaining human talent, accelerate revenue growth and enhanced value generated from employees in the workplace.



China and India offer the highest growth potential over ten years, and are also key sources of talent. It is vital for technology companies to have exposure to China to understand the developments in a dynamic market leading Asia in e-commerce, mobile internet and AI. 

We advise technology groups to consider locations in Shanghai or Beijing or, on a medium-term view, Chengdu, in addition to currently dominant South China. In India, Hyderabad is emerging as a strong alternative to Bangalore with lower rents.



We think technology groups need to move towards the CBD or CBD fringe to find and retain talent in R&D, software and IT experts, and sales & marketing, all groups which will increase proportionally with the integration of AI; and we expect the attractions of the CBD and CBD fringe to strengthen further over time. 

Business parks on city edges are an option for smaller or start-up groups. Different economic criteria apply to manufacturing units, for which location outside cities makes sense. However, technology occupiers attempting to concentrate all their operations in out-of-town campus sites look unlikely to attract all the high-skilled staff needed for the key roles of the future.




 2 x IT BPOS


 1 x OTHER 


Over the summer of 2017 staff in Colliers' Occupier Services and Research teams held detailed interviews with the Asian operations of twelve large technology companies domiciled in the US and Europe, China and India. These companies span the gamut of technology sub-sectors from hardware manufacturing to social media. Our interviews covered present and future real estate strategy, but paid particular attention to the question of how the need to acquire and retain talent shapes real estate location decisions.

The complete findings and methodology behind of study from the interviews with 12 tech companies is detailed in full research report, within the "Technology Occupiers Survey" section. Here, in summary, we combine the key findings from the study with our own research into the future direction of property markets to outline an ideal real estate strategy for technology sector occupiers in Asia. 

10 Key Findings

1. Acquisition of talent is the single greatest challenge facing technology occupiers, ranking far ahead of other constraints.

2. India and China offer the greatest potential in Asia on a ten year view, representing 56% of all positive responses expressed about particular markets. More surprisingly, mature Japan ranks third.

3. The technology companies that we interviewed consider China and India as the most important sources of talent, in particular Beijing/North China, followed by Shanghai/East China and Bangalore in India.

4. Leasing of additional office space and use of flexible working space account for 92% of expressed preferences about future options for expansion. However, one successful Chinese company has a clear preference for self-building and owner occupation.

5. Opinion is widely split about the best location for office and manufacturing facilities over the next five to ten years. The CBD fringe remains in the lead, but many occupiers prefer the core CBD, business parks and campus facilities.

6. Gen Y/millennial staff are the largest or joint largest age group for two-thirds of the occupiers in our study. 

7. The top three technology requirements of technology occupiers are high-speed internet, followed by secure servers and remote server access, which highlights location impacts.

8. The proportion of staff working outside company facilities varies all the way from almost zero to 90%, although the most common category is 10-30%. Certain companies believe that physical presence in the workplace is vital to collaboration and R&D, and so are happy for the proportion to be low.

9. By far the most common form of travel to the workplace is public transport. However, travel by car is still surprisingly important overall, accounting for 25% of expressed preferences about mode of transport for staff.

10. Technology occupiers regard public transport as the most important surrounding amenity for their workplaces, with restaurants, bars and shops in close second place. Car parking is also quite highly ranked - in Asia, at least, it seems the age of the automobile is not yet over.


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