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Reviewing Returns of Digital Investments in ASEAN – Key Takeaways from AIBP Focus, 14 May 2020


In compliance with the lockdown and social distancing measures implemented across Southeast Asia, we had to put our regional travel and face to face meetings on hold. Amidst this downtime, we had the opportunity to host a focus group discussion with key executives of enterprises across the ASEAN region on the topic of “Outsized Returns from Data Infrastructure & Analytics Investments”.

90 minutes passed by too quickly! Drawing customer engagement use cases from banks and relating it to other sectors like smart cities, utility, healthcare on topics of business agility, digital literacy, to how organisations evaluate their returns over new digital projects, here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

1) Put Customer Experience (CX) at the center of digital transformation

What started simply enough as a new way of interacting with customers through the internet and mobile devices has evolved into a full-fledged business mandate to grow stronger, faster, and more efficient by building personalized customer experiences powered by data intelligence.

We had a great demonstration by Khun Anshera from Krungsri Consumer (Thailand) on Recommender System Suite, where they leveraged data (combining prediction AI and Geo-insights) for a more effective customer segmentation, which resulted in 4X campaign response rate.

2) Having an Adaptive strategy is imperative for business agility & continuity

Lockdowns and social distancing measures in Southeast Asia are playing a part in accelerating consumer’s adoption of digital banking services. As consumers turn to digital transactions, Sir Lito, Chief Innovation Officer of RCBC Bank (Philippines) shared how as one of the largest banks in the Philippines, the team was able to quickly adapt and push out digital channels in response to the exponential growth in digital usage. The test on the current infrastructure and servers was also observed by Kasikornbank (Thailand) and the Singapore Exchange.

Beyond banking, Dr Kiko, CIO of Maynilad Water Services (Philippines) spoke about his experience where the situation has forced them to rethink the way that his team had to manage the physical assets in 100 plants all over the Philippines and set up an infrastructure “overnight” where they could diagnose and remedy defects remotely.

3) Security and Privacy remain concerns when it comes to data sharing 

Mr Giang from VPBank (Vietnam) led the discussion on open banking, where we delved deeper into the increasing focus on data collaboration within the Fintech ecosystem putting the spotlight on privacy and security.

This problem is similarly faced by government agencies and the healthcare sector. For example, Zenda, CDO of Vinmec (Vietnam) brought up a point on data collaboration and classification - in their pursuit to ensure more precise diagnosis via data (structural and non-structural) sharing, a key concern that the industry faces is on building a data exchange platform that is protected, maintaining transparency and trust from customers/ patients.

Enhancing ROI of Enterprise Technology Investments

Drawing parallels between the conversations we had and his experience working with global executives, Han, SVP International of Systems, Oracle rounded off the discussion on the three main priorities - Efficiency; Time to Market; Customer Experience - when CFOs/ board of companies evaluate the returns over technology investments. Essentially, companies are seen to have shifted their investment justification from Cost Savings to Cost to Serve.


“It is key to have Data as the core for an organization’s digital strategy, driven from top so there are no silos in execution. In Southeast Asia, we have seen a range of digital explorers working on projects on an adhoc basis - the key moving forward is to think about scaling and not stop at one level.”

Citing RCBC as an example, it is important to have a top-down approach and focus on increasing the levels of digital and data literacy.

It was fun hearing from each participant and understanding the common challenges faced across industries and regions, when it comes to evaluating the returns over new digital projects - from addressing current developments, to planning for longer term’s strategies.

AIBP Focus is a series of discussions held online which brings together a focus group of ASEAN stakeholders to discuss topics related to enterprise technology adoption in the region. Drop me a note at sueyuin@industry-platform.com if you are keen to be involved in our subsequent sessions.

Missed out on the discussion? Watch the session here.


By Asia IoT Business Platform | May 26th, 2020

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