NCS kicks digital into overdrive amid triple acquisition in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong

Singtel-owned business takes control of ClayOPS, Riley and Velocity Business Solutions across Asia Pacific
Ng Kuo Pin (NCS)

Ng Kuo Pin (NCS)

NCS has unveiled plans to acquire three technology providers across Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong, expanding digital capabilities at pace with a specific focus on data analytics and cloud.

The Singapore-based business -- operating as a technology division of Singtel -- has reached agreements to take control of ClayOPS, Riley and Velocity Business Solutions, motivated by a desire to evolve into a B2B services specialist developing “new engines of growth”.

Specifically, ClayOPS goes to market as a Singapore-based data analytics and consulting services firm while Riley operates as a leading Australian cloud-based solutions consultancy. This is in addition to Velocity Business Solutions, a Hong Kong-based data analytics firm that provides a full suite of data analytics consulting and implementation services.

“These acquisitions are targeted and timely as they will accelerate our expansion into Asia Pacific, particularly in the high-growth markets of Singapore, Greater China and Australia,” said Ng Kuo Pin, CEO of NCS. “These markets are seeing digital adoption in both the public and private sectors ratchet up very quickly and we are investing in critical solutions and digital expertise to build out our suite of integrated services.”

Aligned to Singtel’s strategic reset announced in May, Kuo Pin said the trio of acquisitions will help boost the capabilities NCS NEXT -- the provider's digital services organisation -- in the key markets of Singapore, Greater China and Australia.

In turn, the aim is to create a “unique combination” of digital, data analytics and cloud services targeting government and enterprise customers, leveraging an established network of clients, partners and local expertise.

“NCS is committed to providing greater value for our clients and the industry through strategic partnerships and building an innovation ecosystem for technology players of different sizes and niche capabilities, to augment our service portfolio and give our clients access to innovation across the region,” Kuo Pin added.

With completion of the acquisitions subject to closing conditions, ClayOPS, Riley and Velocity Business Solutions will continue to run independently under NCS with respective senior leadership teams continuing in current roles within the companies.

As noted by Kuo Pin, all organisations are expected to further expand product and service offerings -- and in close collaboration with NCS NEXT -- "drive synergies" specific to enterprise-grade digital offerings.

Building digital capabilities

Founded in 2010, ClayOPS works with large enterprises to break down data silos across disparate systems with extensive analytics and technical expertise backed by processing methodology designed to deepen NCS NEXT’s digital capabilities in data analytics solutions.

The business will also add an "immediately accessible" portfolio of large local and multinational clients across industries, including property, healthcare and transportation.

“ClayOPS places great emphasis on a people-centric approach where we specialise in blending data and technology into people and business processes to ensure it becomes part of the organisational DNA,” said Matthew Choo, co-founder and director of ClayOPS.

“With our partnership, we are eager to bring our experience and developed capabilities in process methodology to the table and provide holistic solutions to NCS clients in their data-driven transformation journeys.”

Meanwhile, Australia-based Riley -- also established in 2010 -- has built out a strategic portfolio of services in cloud-native transformation, data supply chain and cloud operations with a specific focus on mid-market and enterprise customer segments.

"The cloud services market was in its infancy when we first founded the business in 2010,” noted Tom Bernadou, founder and managing director of Riley. “Over the past 11 years, we have witnessed first-hand how the cloud can transform entire businesses, industries, and community services.

“We are excited to join the team at NCS, and along with their scale and experience throughout the region, continue our mission of delivering to the market technical innovation, real business and community value, while accelerating the digital transformation agendas of private and public organisations across Australia and the region.”

Rounding off the acquisition drive is Velocity Business Solutions -- established in 2009 -- which provides a full suite of data analytics consulting and implementation services including design, development, support and enablement.

With its strong experience and clientele in the financial services, transportation and logistics industries, the acquisition will be crucial in supporting NCS’ Greater China growth strategy in the months and years ahead.

According to Ian Whitehouse -- founder and managing director of Velocity Business Solutions -- the business has achieved “profitable, organic growth and expansion” during the past 11 years with NCS representing the “natural next step” for the organisation.

“Velocity Business Solutions provides significant value on every project, through our data analytics offerings, commitment to customer success, business agility and consistent delivery,” Whitehouse added.

“The partnership will enable us to widen our data analytics solutions and services, expand our customer base and extend our geographic footprint into the Greater Bay Area of South China. We are looking forward to working together with NCS towards becoming the dominant player in data analytics across Asia Pacific.”

Next era of growth

The acquisitions follow the recent unveiling of a bold new go-to-market strategy for NCS amid plans to transition from a traditional service provider to a digital leader, underpinned by regional expansion, 2000 new hires and an enhanced brand identity.

As reported by Channel Asia, the move has been heralded as a “pivotal moment” in the history of NCS, one which spans four decades and sees the business realise potential as a “new growth engine” for the wider Singtel Group.

Motivated by a desire to maximise 5G opportunities, the “strategic reset” aims to enhance digital services, scale government and telco business segments and capture new growth opportunities in the enterprise sector, with a specific focus on the key markets of Singapore, Australia and Greater China.

“There isn’t a more opportune time for us to make the pivot from a traditional ICT service provider to a digital and technology services firm in Asia Pacific,” said Kuo Pin, when addressing media in early July.

“COVID-19 and the mass migration online have put digital transformation on everyone’s agenda, and we intend to leverage our strengths in the public and telco sectors to capitalise on this opportunity to redefine and grow our company.”

As part of plans to expedite expansion into the enterprise sector, Kuo Pin identified healthcare, transportation, financial services, industrial, commercial, communications, media and technology as priority industry verticals.

Supporting such ambitions is an intention to hire up to 2000 new employees within the space of the next two years.

Based on "individual preference, performance and aptitude", Kuo Pin said technology professionals in NCS will have opportunities to move across specialisations, working in different regions and industries, in addition to engaging with different customers and ecosystem partners.

NCS also plans to launch an "immersive learning academy and platform" -- NCS Dojo -- within the year, a place where the 10,000-strong NCS team can come together to share knowledge from real world projects through an apprentice-style practice-based approach.

“For NCS to play well in the bigger league of technology services firms in Asia Pacific, we must be committed to grow our people, our diversity of talent, and offer them exciting and rewarding careers and opportunities,” Kuo Pin added.

“We have launched a people transformation programme surrounding culture, skill specialisation and becoming a learning organisation. This is a top priority for us.”