Asia’s economy dominated until the 19th century, before being knocked off its pedestal by Europe and then the US. Since then, while the region has grown to become home to more than half the world’s population and soon half of the world’s middle class, it has not yet retaken this financial crown.
That could be set to change. According to the Financial Times, Asian economies, as defined by the UN trade and development body UNCTAD, are expected to become larger than the rest of the world combined in 2020.
Driving this growth are China and India, but also a number of the region’s smaller and midsize countries, especially Indonesia, Vietnam, one of Asia’s fastest-growing economies, and the Philippines, while Bangladesh has overtaken 13 other economies in the past 20 years.
But with the IMF cutting its growth predictions for Asia economies due to headwinds from policy uncertainty, trade disputes and weakness in major trading partners, how soon this might happen is potentially now an open question.
So what can companies in the region do to ensure the return of the ‘Asian Age’?
Technology will certainly play a part, especially the cloud and emerging, data-driven technologies like AI, automation, Blockchain and IoT, and we are already seeing customers harnessing such solutions for positive change.
For example, companies across Asia at the forefront of driving digital transformation by harnessing new self-driving data management tools to gain deeper data-driven insight, faster than ever before.
They include organizations in the electronic payments industry such as VeriTrans in Japan and AsiaPay in Hong Kong, TV-commerce, in the form of SK Stoa in Korea, in electronic contracts with FaDaDA in China utilizing tools in this area, and digital change consultancies like Zhongkai Wisdom Government Software, in China and Huron Consulting in India.
Equally, established businesses like Vodafone Fiji, Telecom Fiji, Hong Kong Maxim’s Group, and others are using the same offerings as a transformational technology that can help them keep up with the ever-growing flood of data.
These will bring many benefits such as supporting the roll out of smart cities, but also will make dealing with their security more challenge.
We believe our latest cloud predictions provide a good idea of how enterprise clouds are evolving and how they will look by 2025. Based on our interpretation of industry research and insight from our customer base, they suggest that by this time we will see things like:
- Most enterprise application including some form of AI.
- Automated business processes enabling more personalized interactions in HR, Sales, and other business domains.
- Data scientists being progressively in higher demand, even as they become more efficient due to AI-driven data gathering and analytics techniques.
- Cybersecurity attacks becoming more sophisticated with the use of IoT and AI, and the risk of internal data breaches growing.
- Most supply chains depending on augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, machine learning, and IoT.
But what will the impact of these be on business in terms of the opportunities and challenges and what do Asian businesses need to consider in order to help drive the geography’s economy back to the top? Here are a couple of areas, I believe will have the most impact:
Data literacy to become as easy as abc – by 2025 we will be producing the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day. With much of it heading into the cloud. Here, new autonomous data management and visualization technologies will help users at all levels of data literacy to see the pictures in the data rather than just rows and columns on spreadsheets, as well as use data in new ways. In the same timeframe, we would expect to see most all enterprise applications will embed AI in some form. This will take us add further understanding by additionally providing suggestions of what the pictures mean and the best actions to take.
This means that most everyone in an organization will start to gain predictive insight, helping them gain a better understanding of their operations, employees, markets, and customers.
But insight will only be as good as the data involved, and staff need to educated and empower to ask questions and action the right answers.
Welcome to the Experience Economy. We are surrounded by unprecedented choice and convenience, from online orders arriving in hours to rides arriving in minutes and answers arriving in seconds. As a result, we often demand instant gratification in both our personal and also, increasingly, our professional lives.
Here, AI and autonomous technologies are permeating the workplace, streamlining routine business processes and freeing up professionals to focus on more meaningful and productive human interactions. Conversational AI is creating a new standard of engagement. For example, in finance, machines will field queries about invoices and POs, expenses and budgets, enabling a new level of self-service. In recruiting, operations are being streamlined by automated workflows that track applicants, schedule interviews, and field requests from new hires.
This means business leaders need to rethink the experiences they deliver across the entire value chain not just for customers but also employees to supply chain and core financial processes.
AI will be foundational to security. By 2025, there will be 600 times more sensitive data shared in the cloud and a thousand fold increase in security risk from both external threats as well as those that may come from internal sources and misconfigurations. In fact, by 2025, 80 percent of security attacks will come from an inside source.
As fast as AI and IoT become common tools for cyber attackers, so these need to become as commonplace in the tools deployed by organizations to combat them – it will be machine versus machine. This will provide new approaches to monitoring for the threats of external attackers. It will also help across the increasing levels of hybrid and multi cloud reliance given that organizations will continue to keep one foot in the on-prem world, while shifting most of their data into the cloud.
Identity management will also be advanced by AI, helping bringing context based around behavior- and location-based data, usage patterns, systems information and more. Furthermore, by 2025, 80 percent of identity will be based on the identity of things instead of individuals in order to further protect companies from sophisticated security threats.
So organizational leaders need to continue to look to advanced security capabilities at every layer of their business and IT infrastructure—from the application access, to the data, down into the silicon—to ensure data security, privacy, and compliance.
The changing jobs and workforce. As the rise of automation in the workforce is, in some areas, displacing the demand for human labor, the prevalence of AI is simultaneously creating new opportunities in the job force.
In terms of displacement, by 2025, much of recruiting will be taken over by AI and bots. In sales, AI systems will filter prospects by analyzing large datasets and identifying the leads that are most likely to lead to sales, and by 2025, a significant proportion of sales will be automated, enabling sales reps to focus on relationship-building and customer engagement.
At the same time new opportunities will come, potentially creating many million new roles.
This will lead to an increased demand for “human skills” and the need for the global up-skill of employees – and technology is helping with that. For instance, by 2025, most businesses will expand their use of low-code development to empower non-developers, helping streamline and simplify operations and speed project execution and improve the experiences of their customers.
To support these new roles and the organizational structures needed, which will be centered around agility and flexibility, businesses will need the requisite technologies and culture that can enable a new way of working.
Only by considering these key technology changes in the context of business impact, opportunities and challenges will Asian businesses be able to be sure to boost their economic impact and reignite the new Asian Age.