A futuristic perspective of Southeast Asia
The COVID-19 pandemic tested the resiliency of every industry and adversely impacted, even shut down, many businesses around the world. For example, social distancing and lockdowns decimated the restaurant industry, closing millions of restaurants globally in 2020. However, the e-commerce industry, which was digitally prepared with online shopping tools, thrived with a 183 billion dollar boost in online shopping spending.
So how are markets in Southeast Asia adapting to a post-pandemic world?
Digital preparedness enables business continuity and resilience
From my vantage point, working with customers and talking with my contacts through the worst of it, I found that closed borders and crippled supply chains caught many businesses by surprise in 2020. Nations, businesses, and people were forced to recognize the importance of data and rethink the way they manage the flow of data. Markets in Southeast Asia were particularly impacted in two areas—business continuity and data transfer capabilities.
- Businesses scrambled to keep entire processes on track, towards their customers and business partners, but also internally, towards business and technical stakeholders.
- Working from home presented organizations with VPN connectivity and Wi-Fi issues.
- Relationships were challenged, as face-to-face collaborations had to be substituted for video conference calls, which were once recognized as “poor substitutes” for meetings “in person.”
- Onboarding new partners required secure and reliable data transfer and agile integration capabilities for which many business partners were not prepared.
- In several instances, the exchange of traditionally hard-copy information with trading partners had to be digitized.
Industries that had engaged in digital transformation prior to the pandemic were better prepared to face the supply chain and customer experience challenges precipitated by the crisis. For example, the financial services and logistics industries were leveraging data as a strategic asset and modernizing their platforms with digital integration way before the pandemic started. In a recent study, the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) concluded that the more focused companies are on digital transformation, the better they are able to weather disruptions.
Now, there is a renewed focus in Southeast Asia on prioritizing and re-tooling mitigation plans to address execution limitations and resource capabilities. Requirements emerging from organizations involve re‑platforming, listening to peers about best practices and consolidating resources. Businesses in Southeast Asia that I work with and read about are reimagining the way work is done, such as eliminating their reliance on paper for core business activities, adopting hybrid work models and reevaluating business models and organizational structure, in addition to other aspects.
Financial services shifts from traditional to digital banking
Digital transformation has accelerated the shift from traditional banking to digital banking. Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore was not only prepared with strategic investments that bolstered a strong digital ecosystem, but now it’s leading the way with a number of global banks in defining how people work in the “new normal.” The bank plans to reduce office space by about a third in Singapore as it embraces hybrid working. Several Economies in South East Asia have announced intentions or plans to issue Digital Banking licenses,.
Logistics providers prosper from the e-commerce boom
The logistics industry outperformed most sectors during the pandemic. Digital transformation has been vital for building better visibility into fleet operations and performance data, as well as for implementing advanced digital supply chain management solutions. As we witness a boom in e‑commerce logistics and trade facilitation, increased investments into regional logistics startups is a visible trend.
A perspective of the future
Organizations are experiencing increasing complexity in their landscape with cloud adoption, consolidation and modernization, re-platforming, technology refresh, and an exponential increase of endpoints that enable their business partners to transact electronically in a secure manner over the Internet. “Be Prepared” is the mantra that echoes the corridors of organizations intent on overcoming challenges thrown by unexpected events. To avoid disruptions during emergencies, enterprises need strategies that include the usage of a comprehensive integration platform that is foundational to leverage data assets. Digital preparedness is the key to success.
“The value of digital channels, products and operations is immediately obvious to companies everywhere right now,” according to a senior analyst at Gartner. “This is a wake-up call for organizations that have placed too much focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience. Businesses that can shift technology capacity and investments to digital platforms will mitigate the impact of the outbreak and keep their companies running smoothly now, and over the long term.”
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 Gartner, “Coronavirus: CIO Areas of Focus During the COVID-19 Outbreak,” Laura Starita, 6 March 2020
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Written by: Gurudutt PBGurudutt PB, Managing Director, SEEBURGER Singapore Pte Ltd is responsible for business & market development related to SEEBURGER’s business integration technology and solutions for diverse industry verticals that include Financial Services, Utilities, Regional and National Trade Facilitation and Single Window capacity building, to name a few. Gurudutt has more than 25 years of regional business and technology experience working with product and solution delivery of enterprise application integration, EDI, B2B, MFT, API, Analytics and Big Data, Mobile, Digital Transformation and industry specific technology initiatives, both on-premises and in the cloud. Gurudutt has been with SEEBURGER since April 2017 and prior to this with international business integration technology providers working in various leadership roles in Asia.