THE BOTTOM LINE

Disruption, technology and opportunity

DISRUPTION is all around us, and innovation is accelerating faster than ever before - especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Technology is upending traditional business strategies and creating opportunities to disrupt incumbents. Businesses in the region are starting to feel the effects of Industry 4.0. For example, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation have already streamlined accounting, e-commerce, and business intelligence. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are being used for entertainment, education and driving consumer engagement through immersive experiences. And now, 3D Printing is transforming production across a wide range of industries.

Through a combination of the technologies above, products will no longer be constrained by the physical. They will be able to travel across borders instantly, in a digital format, to markets where they can be made to order, personalised and locally produced.

SHIFTING CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS IN THE EXPERIENCE AGE

To excel in this new world, businesses must stay ahead of the disruption curve. It is not an easy task, but businesses need to focus on creating exceptional experiences for their customers. The latest technologies have transformed our world from one that was business-to-consumer (B2C) to one that is today consumer-to-business (C2B). Customers can - and do - expect experiences and solutions from brands, not just products.

Millennials are leading the charge, but consumers of all ages are increasingly opting to spend their money on spectator events, travelling, dining or other experiences - as opposed to things.

There are three key reasons for this, according to McKinsey: they have a more holistic perspective on what leads to happiness, a desire to share and document experiences with others, and an increasing fear of missing out.

The way to win over consumers has not changed - it is still all about providing the best possible outcome for the customer. Technology and innovation will play a crucial role in addressing these trends - we must find the key inflection points where technology can support and enhance business and user experiences considering what is happening around us.

LESSONS FROM A DIGITAL DISRUPTOR

Businesses must understand the customer journey, ensuring that they provide the services customers want, when they want them, and with a look and feel that resonates with their work or lifestyle. There is a need to continuously re-imagine relationships with customers and Go-Jek is a great example of a company in our region that did so through technology. Their laser sharp focus on customers has disrupted traditional service providers and removed friction from the chores of daily living, providing greater convenience for their users.

What started as a ride-hailing service in Indonesia has evolved into something bigger, expanding into a full suite of services. Drivers deliver everything from meals and groceries to cleaners, masseuses and hairdressers in Jakarta, all through a smartphone app. Go-Jek's digital platform keeps drivers busy throughout the day and their drivers became more productive and more efficient, while earning more money along the way.

Last year, University of Indonesia researchers found that Go-Jek drivers earned roughly 20 per cent more than the average monthly minimum wage.

Go-Jek addressed the day-to-day problems that their customers faced, maximising hassle-free experiences. It broke all the rules, going against the norm by entering multiple businesses at one time by solving customers' pain points. It is now poised to invest about US$500 million as it looks to expand into new markets.

New technologies and business models are empowering companies like Go-Jek and other contenders to reinvent and create new experiences for everyone.

TRANSFORMATION AND ACCELERATING CHANGE

Digital transformation goes beyond technology and processes, it allows for the creation of goods and services to provide stakeholders with seamless, differentiated and engaging experiences. Organisations that are actively embracing digital transformation and new technological opportunities are seeing significant, measurable results and gaining a competitive advantage.

At HP, we have applied this concept to our own business, transforming the way we engage with customers - through AI and automation in our online stores and customer service platforms, by bringing VR to the commercial space and through leveraging 3D printing.

Digitisation will be disruptive, but it will deliver enormous value if businesses develop a deep understanding of the trends that are shaping our world and harness them to stay ahead of the disruption curve.

To capitalise, rather than simply cope, businesses need to step back and rethink their approach to creating value, understanding that meaningful innovation is the key to delivering real outcomes and experiences.

  • The writer is president of Asia-Pacific & Japan at HP.