Navigating the Digital Landscape: Driving Growth, Resilience, and Long-Term Success

Insights on digital transformation, remote working, and tech trends in Asia-Pacific’s evolving economy

Communication, Project Management, Agile Methodology

Digital transformation continues to accelerate in Asian businesses in the post-pandemic era, writes Jostein Aksnes, CEO and co-founder of Seven Peaks

In today’s fast-paced world, trends come and go. Yet, the primary forces behind corporate success continue to be the same. Since 2020, the pandemic has been a catalyst for digital transformation among Asian businesses. Initially, many companies held back, waiting to see how the situation would unfold. Then, as the long-term consequences of COVID-19 became clear, organizations began making significant investments in digital transformation.

Digital products and cost optimization in challenging times

Companies have turned to digital products to help their businesses thrive, not just survive. This has been especially prevalent among restaurants and retail businesses, which have had to reach their customers online through e-commerce.

Cost optimization is crucial in these challenging times, and leveraging digital transformation to improve internal processes and efficiency saves time and improves margins. This is crucial considering possible upcoming downturns or global economic recessions.

Embracing hybrid and remote working

Employees’ desire for hybrid and remote working made businesses reevaluate their working methods after COVID-19 hit. Introducing the right tools for effective online collaboration, meetings, and communication was essential to the success of this.

A global survey found that 97 percent of respondents felt the COVID-19 outbreak sped up digital transformation processes in their organizations either “somewhat” or “a great deal.” Companies need to work with technology if they are to survive. And if used successfully, technology can improve processes and increase productivity and revenue.

Addressing the digital skills gap in SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) need to decide on their direction before investing in the right team to build the appropriate digital solutions. Understanding what needs to be built instead of only focusing on what is desired is crucial. Organizations must also learn how to maximize value from their relationships with tech partners.

A survey of SMEs in the Asia Pacific region conducted in 2020 found that the leading challenge in digital transformation was a lack of digital skills and talent in companies, followed by a lack of necessary technologies and commitment from management.

In-house tech teams vs. external partners

There are two choices when it comes to tech transformation: develop your own in-house tech team or work with an external partner. Building an in-house tech team offers opportunities for quality assurance, maintenance, and support. Yet, building high-quality digital products is complex. It requires strong leaders, a seasoned software management team, and a significant financial and time investment. Hiring top tech talent can also be difficult for non-tech organizations.

Alternatively, organizations can work with external tech partners to solve their digital transformation challenges and build digital products. An in-house product owner is essential to bridging the gap between the business and the tech team and focusing on work that quickly delivers economic value.

Navigating tech trends with purpose

As a company, Seven Peaks is always on the lookout for new breakthroughs and technologies, but we’re careful not to shift our strategy based solely on the latest trend. We’re open to using new tools that can solve specific problems, but we avoid solutions that claim to be wide-ranging without addressing real-world issues. This includes current discussions around cryptocurrency, blockchain, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The acceleration of Southeast Asia’s digital economy

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) recently published its Asia-Pacific Digital Transformation Report. The report emphasized the need for stakeholders and policymakers to monitor digital transformation locally and nationally. The report also found that investment by the mobile industry in services, infrastructure, and other innovations in Asia and the Pacific was valued at $400 billion over the past five years. This had a massive impact on the digital revolution. And as a result, 94 percent of the population in the Asia-Pacific region is now covered by mobile broadband.

In 2016, Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company reported on how digitization is driving change in Southeast Asia. Covering Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the report predicted that the region’s digital economy will reach $200 billion by the end of 2025. The region achieved this staggering figure three years earlier than anticipated.

Predictions

As we look forward to 2024, digital trends will involve innovations that currently exist but will be developed further. These will likely include cloud computing, blockchain, 5G, and, of course, AI. Solutions for remote, augmented, and hybrid working, which became crucial during the pandemic, will continue to top many organizations’ lists of priorities. With the ongoing economic recovery in Asia, I foresee sustained growth in the main digital sectors of travel, e-commerce, online media, food & transport, and digital financial services (DFS).

Conclusion

In conclusion, I’m committed to helping businesses accelerate tech transformation and fuel economic recovery. By staying up-to-date with the latest trends, investing in the right technologies, and working with the right partners, we can collectively navigate the challenges and opportunities of the digital landscape. As businesses and economies continue to evolve, embracing digital transformation will be crucial to driving growth, resilience, and long-term success.

Jostein Aksnes is the CEO and co-founder of Seven Peaks Software.

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