27/06/2022 |

Top 3 Questions On How to Modernize Your APAC Business

Business owners ask me these three questions
about moderinizing their businesses.
Here are my answers.

Digitalization in Asia

Recently, I had conversations with several corporate leaders. The discussions revolved around digitalisation, automation, efficiency and service delivery. We touched on why some businesses are still behind in transforming while many companies in APAC reported success. What is holding them back?

In a 2021 survey from BakerMckenzie, the mentioned ‘digital laggards’ remained a floating subject, despite that it was common to embark on digital transformation during the pandemic. Undoubtedly, the telecommunications/media, transportation (Uber/Grab), and consumer goods (online groceries, FMCG) industries led the adoption, merging with current trends, responding to the demands of the ever-changing consumer behaviours. But how about the other sectors, such as manufacturing, hospitality, energy and agriculture? Based on the survey, these sectors mentioned above are behind.

Yet, with 83% of the 6 billion person world population owning a mobile phone, modernization is inevitable, regardless of age, industry or business preference. (Source: Bankmycell)

In countries such as Singapore and Australia, the modernization and digital transformation of business are mature. Yet, other APAC countries are trying to catch up, and many small-medium enterprises (SME) or family-owned businesses in the region are still struggling to modernize their businesses. More prominent organisations have also delayed the transformation or journey of change due to a few factors, such as costs, talent, readiness to adopt, corporate culture, technology advancement, and others.

Drilling into the top three common questions that I get from today’s business leaders about how to modernize their businesses:

  1. How do I optimise my current team to support the growing demands of my business? 
  2. How can my company prepare our business for a world that is highly fluid and agile? We have existing business processes, and this means that we are often inflexible and stuck in the old ways. 
  3. How can my company stay competitive when the competition is outside of my region and in the international market?  

While there are no right or wrong answers because any new change towards the future is favourable to the implementor and organisation, there are some best practices that I have taken from our previous experiences in supporting our customers as they modernize their businesses.

How do I optimise my current team to support the growing demands of my business?

When managed well, overflowing business inquiries, tasks, and orders are a ‘good problem’. However, when incoming requests are outgrowing your team, seek the aid of technology to support your current or growing team. Start by identifying silos and supporting groups that struggle with backlogs.

Depending on what you have identified, start researching tools that solve the problems faced by these teams. This may be as simple as automating the mundane task of digitalising store inventory updates and company assets. Or, it could mean implementing a customer service software with unified chat channels to handle the first-line of support flowing to operational tasks within the same portal.

Tip 1:

A critical point in selecting the best cloud solution is that your company have the ability to scale, pivot, expand and change when your business needs grow over time.

Tip 2:

Remember to avoid any in-house system that will expire as quickly as new technology advances. Most cloud solutions are always supported by the manufacturers and are updated to the current technology demands.

How can my company prepare our business for a world that is highly fluid and agile?

We have existing business processes, and this means that we are often inflexible and stuck in the old ways.

An efficient way is to start building a transformation or modernization team that establishes a roadmap for the company. People will be the key to successfully carrying the motion forward. In a survey from Mckinsey, the keys to success involve:

  • a management team with clear direction,
  • a tool to support employees to be successful, and
  • encouraging groups to share creative ideas to transform. When minds are coherent with vision, the focus will be more apparent.

While training and knowledge are essential, these also allow businesses to evaluate new ways to modernize their current practices. Keeping current with the latest technologies introduced in your industry or being the early adopters could give your company a competitive edge. In the example of the agriculture industry, using automated machines in the greenhouse and robots to handle basic farming activities will help accuracy in delivering quality fresh produce to the market and scalability in volume.

For training, you may look at upskilling your team by optimising their daily tasks, offering personal development courses or participating in technical workshops that help the team manage their work better during technology adoption or world order changes. A few examples could be:

  • learn virtual selling for sales teams,
  • introducing smart contracts for finance,
  • human connections through remote working courses for HR professionals, or
  • simply implementing the usage of machine learning tools for the customer service team.

Tip 3:

The ability to pivot and be fluid in your processes and business activities gives your company a step ahead in offering a shorter time for delivery, hence adding brownie points to customer experience excellency versus your competitor.

How can my company stay competitive when the competition is outside of my region and in the international market?

We often hear this from our customers when their local market is no longer sufficient and the business intends to go for a bigger market beyond.

One of the fastest ways is to magnify your external corporate online presence and digitalize your back-end business operation processes to support the customer-facing activities. The ultimate goal is to bring business back to the home base. There are many ways to do this beyond static social media posting and cold calling for sales and marketing. Some companies have proven the use of lead generation campaigns, email campaigns, webinars, Google advertising, remarketing and customer-referral programs.

For back-end operations, keep in mind adopting technology/solution that can capture and help your team deliver the product and service, end-2-end, as a complete customer journey and customer experience. A survey from Smarkarrot shared that 77% of customers with a good CX will likely recommend the brand to another. The adoption of technology will also close the gap and be able to complete all the intended emotional customer touch-points.

Tip 4:

Ensure cohesive software solutions to track work tasks, manage customer details, or capture data for KPI management reporting are in place. To save collectively, avoid manual recording and excel tabulation.

Another complementary positive activity is to leverage the heart of your business, the people – your team. Take time to build a ‘Go-To-Market internal team’ (GTM) to support regional or international market penetration strategies. Involve topics such as culture and adoption rate, tailoring to local markets, specific industry or country preferences, and finding the proper positioning for your product or business in new areas.

Having a timeline is crucial, and companies often choose to use project management based software or ticketing software to support the GTM activities (similar to digitizing Gant charts). It helps reduce human error, highlight goals and measure the effort and cost of the modernization.

In short, there are more ways to optimise the current business with tools, technologies, skill sets, industry expertise consultancy and best practice mirroring. Move the goal post once you have achieved the previous set of goals. The business world is ever-changing, progressing and modernizing our daily lives. And so shall we, towards the future of doing business.

Let’s connect if you want to have an in-depth conversation on modernizing or building your current business.

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