Seven Tech Trends For Businesses In Asia Pacific
Learn how agility differentiates the winners amidst this period of disruption.
What’s needed most right now to accelerate innovation, drive growth and do business amid uncertainty is ready-for-anything agility and adaptability.
But the overarching focus of the new trends centers on invisible technology and with it, a new mentality – how we can harness intelligence to fundamentally change how we connect, run our business, or simply, make life easier for customers.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) fueled enterprises
Already, AI affects our lives in transformational ways – the navigation apps we use, the media services we stream, or the ride sharing apps we rely on. We are also turning to AI for help in diagnosing and treating coronavirus, and in technology tools to track and fight the pandemic.
In the future, more technologies will be embedded AI – not just in our homes or transport, but in our enterprises.
Currently, more than 50% of companies in Asia Pacific have launched AI with the top three priorities including customer experience, faster and better business decisions and increasing operational efficiency. Others are using AI to increase sales – for instance, one Japanese clothing retailer improved its sales 10-30% by understanding how to better allocate staff.
In addition, the science of predictive data analytics is transforming the business landscape, using machine learning and statistical modelling to predict future behaviour and outcomes. We’ve gone from being able to look at what happened, to what is happening, to predictive analytics about what is going to happen.
2. Democratization of machine learning to empower more digital upstarts
Machine learning is now so widespread it is fast becoming less of a disruptive technology and more an integral part of companies’ competitive strategy. In fact, technology is transforming so fast you don't need coding or data science skills to do it. That’s a real game-changer, especially for Asian SMEs.
We expect to see empowered Asian companies starting to build more of their own AI solutions, thanks to the power of ubiquitous, high velocity computing in tandem with off-the-shelf algorithms.
We also expect to see more digital upstarts with business models built entirely on new AI-enabled services and product innovation. Take, for example, Native Union, an up and coming luxury tech brand that’s tapping into global demand for wireless charging.
3. Wider adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) across Asia Pacific
With high cost-effectiveness and scalability, RPA uses robotics to automate and streamline tedious tasks – it’s in even greater demand now because of new requirements for social distancing and less human-to-human contact in business processes.
Bots have also been used by authorities in Asia Pacific during the COVID-19 pandemic to gather infection data and speed up collation and contact tracing. But the advantages of RPA were clear long before coronavirus. For instance, in Singapore, we used a robot to automatically send messages for missing scans to on-road couriers to improve customer service. That’s turned a three-step process – ordinarily taking FedEx staff up to four hours daily - into a 20-minute automated task. Our teams, freed up from collating this information, instead focus on value-added solutions and interaction with customers.
4.Strategic automation to become integral
Strategic automation means taking a holistic approach, aligning business values with automation. Rather than focusing short-term on specific areas which might need automating, strategic automation looks at the overall needs of the business simple or repetitive responsibilities,so they can focus on more meaningful work,enabling more real-time decision making and further optimizing operations.
We know from our own experience that when launching any new technology, core business values such as compliance, accuracy, consistency and reliability, scalability, job satisfaction, cost saving, productivity improvement, and customer experience – are key to decision-making about when and what to automate.
In the future, it’s the bots themselves that could be making more decisions – automatically identifying the best processes to automate, acting on insights and intelligence.
5. More connected, intelligent networks
This is about technology we don’t see – or even think about. Take for instance, banking. Already we tap to pay. Or healthcare – where sensors, for example, are bringing real time insights to the secure movement of sensitive goods.
The challenge for business is to ensure connectivity and intelligence that’s customer-centric.
Our own teams throughout Asia Pacific are increasingly using technology to personalize small business interactions and optimize delivery – simultaneously raising and serving customer expectations that would otherwise not be possible.
6. Optimizing customer experience with speed and agility
It’s also about the convergence of other critical trends. For instance, Gartner predicts AI will be a mainstream customer experience investment in the next several years, with 15% of global customer service interactions to be handled completely by AI by 2021, up 400% from 2017.
Not surprising then that Forrester cites this year as the time when companies will not just accelerate AI adoption, but become sharply focused on AI value.
So being agile enough to change course when needed, and resilient enough to weather the storm, are key factors for future success.
7. Smart tech will accelerate cross-border B2B commerce
The global B2B eCommerce market was valued at US$12.2 trillion in 2019, more than 6 times the B2C market, with Asia Pacific way out in front with almost 80% of the B2B market.
Asia Pacific will continue to power one of the biggest trends in B2B – the rise of vertical marketplaces – with greater value-added services, including personalized customer experience.
This new frontier of cross-border e-commerce is marked by an amazing array of technology, of what’s being traded, and the participation of more players, all thanks to digitization.
For instance, McKinsey says new technology in the logistics industry could cut shipping and customs processing times by as much as 28%.
What’s more, by removing some of the friction that slows the movement of goods today, these technologies together could potentially boost overall trade by 6 to 11% by 2030.
Takeaway? Agility and flexibility are crucial in the 2020’s
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