Asia Pacific

Building the right digital foundation for a post-Covid world (The Business Times)

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin’s proverb has never rung truer as Covid-19 upends how we live, work, and communicate. As the pandemic situation remains fluid, businesses will need to remain agile and constantly evolve to stay relevant and thrive in the shifting landscape.  

To give businesses the extra boost they need to adapt and position themselves for the future, several initiatives announced in this year’s Singapore Budget were focused on helping businesses shift from business continuity to invest in digital technologies that can help them evolve, innovate, and capture future opportunities. It is estimated that the growth of Asia Pacific’s digital sector can result in more than US$8.6 trillion of economic surplus over five years, till 2025.

Furthermore, the pandemic has irreversibly changed consumer behaviour, leading to a permanent and significant increase in digital services usage. In 2020, as many as 40 million people came online for the first time in just six Southeast Asia markets, pushing the number of internet users in the region to 400 million.

Evidently, organisations can reap massive economic benefits if equipped with the right digital capabilities. While more than 70 per cent of organisations in Asia Pacific have stepped up digital transformation due to the pandemic, it does not necessarily mean that most organisations here have the capabilities to seize the immense opportunities emerging in the digital space. 

During the pandemic, the driving force behind many digital transformation projects was to alleviate the situation’s immediate severity and maintain business continuity. They were not meant for the long term. Businesses will need to continue to evolve their digital capabilities to keep pace with changing business demands. 

Reassessing digital technology investments to support internationalisation endeavours

For most businesses, the transformation they underwent so far is only the first phase of their journey.

In the years ahead, one key trend we can expect is a surge in internationalisation efforts as businesses expand across geographies and enter new market segments to find new revenue streams and drive growth. This will lead to the emergence of more businesses with operations and consumer bases across multiple markets.

One of the first steps these businesses can take is to reassess their technology capabilities and strategise how they can connect with customers much more intimately across borders through digital platforms. This will enable them to access new segments and respond quickly to market changes in different locations.

The need to improve how businesses connect with their customers digitally is especially pertinent for companies looking to expand their footprint in Southeast Asia. More than two out of five consumers in this region said they were dissatisfied with their digital experience. 

For businesses with a presence in markets that are still working to flatten the Covid-19 curve, it is important to provide customers with an immersive, personalised digital journey that can rival the physical in-store experiences the company provides in more mature and developed markets. This ensures customers have a consistent experience, no matter where they reside, enhancing the brand promise and equity. 

Achieving this will require businesses to provide their teams with unified, collaborative platforms that work seamlessly across functions and geographies. Furthermore, to enable their employees to continue to deliver exceptional customer services, they must provide the infrastructure to support remote access to enterprise applications.

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The Business Times

24 May 2021

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