The Asian tech century

At IDC’s annual FutureScapes event this week, the APAC group vice-president of the technology analyst firm, Sandra Ng, took a shot at predicting the technology trends that will shape the things to come in 2019.

Among her predictions were the growing data management and monetisation capabilities, efforts to a harness APIs to build a developer and partner ecosystem, and the use of key performance indicators to measure the success of digital transformation efforts, among others.

Each of these trends underscores what many of us already know is the crux of digital transformation – to drive change across an organisation’s people and processes, undergirded by technologies such as cloud and mobile computing, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and data analytics.

While these trends should not surprise anyone in the technology industry, what made Sandra’s presentation different this year was the ‘digitally determined’ APAC companies that she had highlighted.

These companies include Taiwanese bank O-Bank, which has 20% lower customer acquisition costs than its peers, a Hong Kong nightspot operator that uses facial recognition to gather insights about patrons, as well as Indonesian conglomerate Lippo which formed a separate digital unit that created the OVO mobile payment app.

But what captivated the audience most was the slate of Chinese companies highlighted during the presentation. From the WeChat super app that even street beggars use to solicit digital donations to insurance giant Ping An that is morphing into a tech supplier, China’s companies are clearly at the bleeding edge of innovation.

Led by China, which is now on more-or-less equal footing with the US in developing frontier technologies like AI, Asian companies are no longer playing second fiddle to their Western counterparts.

In fact, the depth and diversity of talent and ideas has drawn more venture capitalists to Asia, which according to KPMG, accounted for the majority of global venture capital investments in the third-quarter this year.

The Asian tech century is now upon us, and things will get even more interesting over the next decade.

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