Microsoft, together with research firm TechRepublic Premium, looked into the impact the pandemic has had on the Asia Pacific region’s work styles, business operations, and how it has accelerated an increase in overall technology adoption, realizing a new normal of hybrid working.
Amid the pandemic, Microsoft found that while organizations have prioritized technology adoption to enable remote working environments and overall business transformation, the change was not driven through technology alone. A forced mindset change was in play, encouraging organizations to rethink ways of working, how individuals, groups, and managers interact with one another and the change management needed to adjust to the new normal of work focusing on the emotional impact of the change.
“Striking the right culture, technology and measurement, is essential in creating a successful remote working experience. A culture characterised by a growth mindset, trust between managers and employees, as well as within peers, can empower teams to continue to work productively and innovatively,” said Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau.
Microsoft’s study also highlighted trends that employers should pay attention to as they plan their new normal strategies.
The increased risk of burnout — Those who have started working from home are fielding calls from their bosses late into the evening, underlining the need to re-draw boundaries for out-of-hours contact.
Career progression concerns – Organizations will need to reassess how performance is measured.
Need for flexibility and empathy — Distractions are a challenge while working from home.
Tech training and preparedness – As technology becomes a growing staple for employees, training will need to go hand-in-hand to unlock the full potential of hardware and software.
Incorporating a social element – Organizations need to intentionally focus on policy and company culture rather than raw technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a huge boost to the development of digital landscapes and solutions as countries learn to adapt to the new normal. This pandemic-fuelled push towards digital evolution has encouraged innovators and businesses across these regions to step up, paving the way for the development of more effective solutions and deeper cooperation across nations to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Southeast Asia has made huge progress in terms of digitalising its societies even before the onset of the pandemic. Part of this growth involved countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore leading the way in terms of e-commerce, mobile banking, and ride-hailing. When the pandemic first broke out in Southeast Asia, the region was relatively quick to implement strict measures to curb the spread. Businesses, decision-makers, and innovators across the region positioned themselves at the forefront of developing tech solutions to help their societies cope with the shifting demands brought about by the pandemic.
Whereas in Latin America, with its high internet penetration rates and large mobile-minded middle class, the region is prime for embracing and adopting tech solutions to adapt to the new way of life. While the statistics seem promising, Latin America continues to struggle with low levels of entrepreneurship that is largely necessity-based. The growing demand for digital solutions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the lack of resources and innovation to meet it, creates a huge potential for solutions from without the region to play a part in enhancing the well-being of Latin American society.
While Latin America and Southeast Asia appear to be vastly different at first glance, they share the similar population sizes, economic realities, and rapid increase in internet penetration rates underscore the adaptability of digital solutions across both regions. Southeast Asia possesses the technological capabilities and know-how that Latin America is ready to embrace, while Latin America serves as a largely untapped market that can provide raw materials and human capital to fuel the growth of Southeast Asian businesses.
Several Asian startups have already taken the leap and are actively seeking to expand and share their solutions with the Latin American market. DiMuto, a Singapore-based agri-food trade tech solutions platform, has been making headway in the region’s strong agricultural sector by driving the digitalisation of supply chains. Talkpush, a Hong Kong-based recruitment platform, has also been on the path of expansion in Latin America as the demand for digital recruitment solutions amidst COVID-19 continues to increase.
SME Association of Malaysia national vice president Chin Chee Seong said even as MCO restrictions are being progressively uplifted, it is no longer business as usual with SMEs having borne the brunt of the impact brought forth by Covid-19.
“While SMEs have already started to evolve to digital companies, those that have moved very gradually to accommodate this have found themselves to be disproportionately affected by the current situation. Today, what’s extremely crucial is for SMEs to realise the role of technology as a strategic business enabler,” Chin said.
Meanwhile, The National Tech Association of Malaysia (PIKOM) immediate past chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah observed that the acceleration of digital economy has opened SMEs up to more varied and intense competition. For Ganesh, it’s never too late for SMEs who still have yet to develop a commanding online presence.
“If SMEs are intimidated or not familiar with technology, they could always look at outsourcing their e-commerce needs to build strong online presence. That way, they concentrate on what they do best – running the business – while letting the outsourced company take care of their IT and e-commerce needs” he said.
“The government has introduced many initiatives involving digital technologies and ICT applications to local businesses. Whilst not entirely converting all the processes into the electronic mode, it is useful in expediting business between the Government and the public,” said Chin.
The Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) x Singapore Week of Innovation & TeCHnology (SWITCH) will expand to become the world’s first week-long round-the-clock, hybrid digital and physical event.
The event saw more than 5,500 from the financial and tech community registered to attend, comprising representatives from the public sector, financial institutions, tech companies, startups and academics.
MAS and ESG said the event will feature a hybrid experience by combining together an “online city” with various physical locations around the world, centred on businesses activities to boost sales cycles, discover partnerships and generate investments. They elaborated that the “online city” will provide each participating organisation with a digital location where they can share and engage with participants as well as schedule one-to-one meetings.
Participants can access physical events hosted in their cities to network with local government and industry leaders, learn about the country’s key government initiatives and local early-stage startups or access closed-door roundtables. During selected hours, participants worldwide will see keynote speakers from different regions coming together to share their perspectives on topics such as Financial inclusion, Green technologies and Sustainability.
Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer at MAS, said, “This year, the extraordinary challenges brought about by the global pandemic has triggered a paradigm shift for SFF x SWITCH. We have an opportunity to redefine our approach and look towards an expanded and exciting new collaboration model. We are exploring a creative way to integrate global centres through an immersive digital engagement experience. We are confident that this approach will be able to bring together the global innovation community in spite of the current constraints in travel and meetings,” Mohanty adds.
INDIA’S plan to regulate “non-personal” data has jolted US tech giants Amazon, Facebook and Google, and a group representing them is preparing to push back against the proposals, according to sources and a letter seen by Reuters.
A government-appointed panel proposed a mechanism for firms to share data with other entities – even competitors – saying this would spur the digital ecosystem. The report, if adopted by the government, will form the basis of a new law to regulate such data.
“USIBC and the US Chamber of Commerce are categorically opposed to mandates that require the sharing of proprietary data,” says the USIBC’s previously unreported letter, which is likely to be completed and submitted in coming weeks to India’s information-technology ministry. “It will also be tantamount to confiscation of investors’ assets and undermine intellectual property protections.” India’s plan to regulate non-personal data is the latest irritant for US tech companies that have been battling tighter e-commerce rules and data storage norms that several countries are also developing.
The Indian panel has listed research, national security and policymaking among purposes for which such data should be shared. Three sources said tech executives participated in several meetings in recent weeks to discuss concerns over the report.
GoPay, Gojek’s digital wallet and payment solutions platform, announced that it is now available as a payment option for YouTube Premium and YouTube Music subscriptions in Indonesia. It claims it’s the first e-wallet to be available as a payment method on YouTube in the archipelago.
The tie-up materialized after Gojek received more investment from Google, along with Facebook, PayPal, and Tencent, to boost digital financial services in Asia.
“We are excited to offer GoPay as a new payment option on YouTube – a collaboration that is particularly timely as more people stay at home and seek out various forms of entertainment,” Timothius Martin, GoPay’s senior vice president of product marketing, said in a statement. He added that the Google-owned video app is one of the most accessed platforms in Indonesia during the pandemic, based on industry data.
To promote this new collaboration, GoPay launched a new advertisement on YouTube that was produced entirely with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and featured Indonesian actors Pevita Pearce and Joe Taslim. “The new CGI advertisement we launched in conjunction with the YouTube collaboration showcases how online services and digital payments are set to become even more ubiquitous going forward, and reflects the creativity of the GoPay team amid the pandemic. Through this, we hope to raise awareness of the convenience of using GoPay across circumstances and use cases, while we continue exploring new ways to expand payment options for consumers,” Martin added.
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