The ASEAN Digital Economy (& Enterprise Innovators Within)

In 2018, Singapore will take over the chairmanship of ASEAN with the grand plan of accelerating the growth of companies in the region.

Tapping into global mega-trends and booming digital economy, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has outlined a business-driven agenda that Singapore intends to deliver with two focus areas:

  1. to streamline regional trade rules governing e-commerce, and lower barriers to entry for seamless economic activity
  2. to promote digital innovation and deepen connectivity across region to drive businesses growth, especially startups, small and medium-sized enterprises

Smart Nation in Singapore

Ranked 2nd for connectivity in APAC, Singapore has taken the lead to invest in new urban infrastructure – from doubling existing railway to developing smart nation platform and data centers (Singapore hosts 50% data center capacity in Southeast Asia); besides collaborating with various solution partners to co-develop new products, solutions and services across different industries, from manufacturing, healthcare, to retail.

In fact, as the IoT hub in Asia (more than 40% Asia HQs of global MNCs are located here), we’re seeing increasing numbers of IoT innovation and digital centres/labs being launched in partnership with the Economic Development Board, e.g. TÜV SÜD Digital Service Center of ExcellenceAccenture IoT Center of ExcellenceFujitsu Digital Experience CentreENGIE Lab, and many many more.

AIBP Site Visit to IBM Studios Singapore in 2017. I was fortunate to sit in a CIO panel during our site visits to IBM Studios and Microsoft Technology Centre earlier this year.

Digital Innovation across ASEAN

Since its founding in 1967, ASEAN’s share of global gross domestic product has almost doubled from 3.3% to 6.2% last year. The region has become the world’s sixth largest economy with a combined GDP of US$2.55 trillion.

Frost and Sullivan expects spending on IoT implementations in the region to grow 35% from an estimated US$1.68 billion in 2015 to reach US$7.35 billion in 2020, and it is of no surprise that digital collaboration has been identified as key for the region’s growth.

Putting aside facts and figures, we do see a growing number of IoT PoCs and digitalisation success stories in ASEAN, within each nation AND across industries – the Enterprise Innovation Awards was launched at the Asia IoT Business Platform series this year and here are some of the winners:

  • Banking & Financial Services – Krungsri Consumer (Thailand)

With the ultimate aim to understand customer insight and maximize customer experience, Krungsri Consumer invested in Big Data foundation (Hadoop), Big Data analytics, and Real-time Decision Marketing (RTDM) technology.

Moving away from traditional mass marketing into personalized marketing, and from service standardization into service individualization, they have achieved 50% increase of campaigns response rate with less expense on lead generation, resulting in THB 35 million incremental income per month.

  • Industrial & Manufacturing – Sime Darby Plantation (Malaysia)

Sime Darby Plantation’s digitalisation strategy has not only reduced the need for greenfield expansion, increased productivity, but also provided transparency on business practices and reduced operational costs.

Through digitalisation of their data aggregation process, they have managed to save RM1 million per year on manpower, paper, and transportation fuel. Raspberry PI architecture was utilised instead of a conventional server set up, which has reduced electricity consumption by 158,000kW per year, equivalent to reduced carbon footprint of 130 metric ton CO2.

  • Healthcare – Carehealthplus Systems International (Philippines)

Fast and reliable healthcare information is needed to fulfil clients’ demand on hospitals and other health institutions to be served at the highest and accurate manner.

Carehealthplus has successfully implemented networks using the most innovative way of communication from all over the country, leading to clients satisfaction and trust.

  • Transportation & Logistics – Blue Bird Group (Indonesia)

After the first launch of My Blue Bird App, Blue Bird Group’s digital initiatives continue to be refined – from management dashboard, cashless payment and IoT in fleet tracking, predictive fleet behavior management, etc.

These initiatives have resulted in not only increased customer satisfaction (especially among millennials) and corporate customer acquisition, but also increment in customer bookings and drivers target hit.

Driving Smart ASEAN


In line with Singapore’s vision to facilitate digital interaction within ASEAN, we will be hosting key stakeholders from leading public services and private enterprises in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar next February 26-27 in Singapore, where key digital initiatives, e-commerce technologies and digitisation challenges in each country will be discussed.

Here is a piece on my observations from last year, and with the maturing mindset of end users, we look forward to hearing again from the above winners and a government panel.

Drop me a note if you’ll like to chat about a specific market or industry innovation, or if you’re interested to host a site visit for our ASEAN tech leaders.

Sue Yuin Ho

3 November 2017

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