Keeping pace with the evolving business ecosystem with the right digital transformation roadmap
- In terms of technological advancement, the introduction of AI and machine learning for statistical analysis has been paradigm-shifting.
- By 2025, Malaysia expects the digital economy to create 500,000 new jobs, connect every home to the Internet, and offer full access to an online learning environment.
Southeast Asia is going through a rapid and unprecedented digital revolution, which is being fueled by growing consumer classes, a strong start-up industry, cheap and readily available devices, and young, tech-loving populations who have embraced social media and e-commerce. The Southeast Asian countries’ roadmap for digital transformation is changing the region.
According to Human Resources Online, Malaysia expects the digital economy to generate 500,000 new positions, provide Internet connection to every home, and provide full access to an online learning environment by 2025.
Many organizations that have digitized are better positioned to use technology to accomplish realistic and measurable business objectives as Southeast Asia makes a move to the digital economy.
Tech Wire Asia had the chance to speak with Gibu Mathew, Vice President and General Manager in Asia-Pacific at Zoho Corp, on how fast the digital transformation is happening in Asia and how Zoho is empowering businesses across many industries as we move into the endemic phase.
Changing APAC region’s business ecosystem
According to Mathew, looking back at the pandemic from two years ago, the first step was to set up virtual meetings and have basic communication between employees within the business. This level of basic communication, Matthew claimed, was a necessity.
The payment was also a significant issue for those selling directly to customers. Therefore, setting up those websites and e-commerce sites and establishing digital payments is crucial.
On the other hand, IT teams at mid-sized businesses had to set up employee computers using remote control software and set up any essential software, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoho Meeting, or whatever is necessary for the employees.
“These are only basic growing pains that will occur during the transition. However, even if it was simply the basics, it is more crucial to expedite real transformation in how organizations do business than focusing only on the basics. So, if you ask me from the tools perspective or how the ecosystem has changed, what will make you stand out as a company is how you will actually be able to provide exceptional customer experience. So, those are the really significant changes,” Matthew explained.
Technological advancements that benefitted businesses
According to Mathew, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for statistical analysis has been paradigm-shifting in terms of technological development, particularly for business software.
He claimed, however, that there is no way to demonstrate the benefits because they are already evident. He asserts that AI is a massive game changer since it enables businesses to empower their employees to make better-informed decisions, following a major transition that we have seen in the past, such as the auto sector or other aspects of the machine.
Mathew explained, “One major issue firms face is with training, skilling, or upskilling their employees. This has been somewhat reduced because AI nowadays is about helping people to do their jobs better rather than replacing them. So that’s actually a very significant change and/or future of the technology that has advanced significantly over the past two years.”
Can design be successfully integrated into the digital transformation process?
For Mathew, the user experience (UX) aspect of technology implementation in a business is typically not given as much thought. So, lots of software ends up being shelfware because it’s so challenging to use.
“Therefore, design is a crucial component. That means you must ensure that your staff members utilize the tools you have created. Additionally, the tools you use for your core business can be modified for different stakeholders,” said Mathew.
Similarly, businesses should be able to alter the CRM’s front end for different roles so that no one can feel overwhelmed. Otherwise, they’ll encounter resistance from members of their own team.
With the news of the great resignation, a huge issue for businesses, it will be difficult for new employees to understand the system when they start working. Companies must therefore make it simple for the new employee to get on board.
“In fact, we introduced the first data design studio with Canvas. You can create a stunning user interface (UI) with just a drag and drop without writing any code. The new generation of employees entering the workforce today are already savvy and make use of social media and other tools in their personal lives. So, they expect the same standard, especially for business software,” Mathew added.
Drawing the privacy line
Mathew believes that in order to succeed, companies must adhere to the law. Today, much of the business software used, particularly by non-business users for personal purposes, infringes on privacy. By using the software, they sell a portion of their rights. They think the software is free, but there’s always a price to pay.
“Are you, as a company, helping your competitors by using advertisement-driven software? For instance, the largest companies in the world have been utilizing today’s AI for years. Therefore, unless they have proper business practices, keep in mind that when you consume products from the largest firms in the world, you are sharing your unique “secret sauce,” because of the data you are sharing with them,” continued Mathew.
Today, privacy must be respected at all costs. A company is essentially showing their value, not just in terms of the technical service they provide, especially if they are trying to establish themselves as a regional player or want a good chance of selling to countries in Europe. Having a proper privacy perspective adds value to the business.
How Zoho helps businesses stay up to date in the digital world
“When you look at the smartphone itself, how do we help businesses stay relevant, particularly in terms of technology? We have a low-code platform called Zoho Creator. We created the platform before smartphones became widely used,” stated Mathew. “Customers that use Zoho Creator were able to export applications as iOS and Android apps and upload them to the Play Store or App Store when smartphones came in.”
Zoho allowed them to keep using the old platform without making any changes or charging them extra. One of the critical things that Zoho makes sure of is that they work to keep technology updated and backward-compatible with all of their new releases.
“So, from a customer perspective, the reassurance that we give to our customers is we do whatever is needed to ensure that you are always up to date. If we have a new device to support, we will do it. If there are new experiences that our customers expect, we build on them,” concluded Mathew.
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