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The New Age Digital CEOs in Asia - Reimagining the Leadership ParadigmAnthony Raja Devadoss | 20th September 2017

Anyone who follows the global economic trend closely can vividly recall the robustness and ecstasy on South East Asian's 1990s economic boom. During that short interval, if we track the economic growth from 1980s to current, the countries, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia are believed to be main players in the world economy, as these countries were magnet of foreign investments from across the world, mostly technology, engineering and electrical. They were called "Asian Tigers".

Most business leaders in Asia are presently showing interest and urgency in embracing a new Industrial Revolution. About 80% of them believe that there is need for transformation to a digital business, to enable future growth. But studies show that only 29% of them said that they have a full digital strategy in place today.

The top CEOs after the holdings of several conferences, have agreed on the fact that customer buying experience today could be better. In fact, according to studies, customer engagement is the top priority for Asian business leaders as they turn to digital strategies to accelerate growth and innovation for their organizations. Every customer is first a consumer and they are looking for personalized experiences. Here’s where digital technologies come in.

Although the majority of business leaders are aware of the urgent need to transform digitally, to adapt to changing business climate, studies have showed that the transformation journey for most organizations in Asia are still at a nursing state. In fact, only 29% of entrepreneurs have a comprehensive digital transformation strategy and less than half (49%) are in the process of implementing specific digital transformation initiatives for parts of their business. While 22% still have a very large limit or no strategy of digitization put in place yet.

Studies of Asian digital transformation have shown that business leaders have begun to act on the need for digital transformation in order to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 4th industrial revolution in the region. Lessons learned from past industrial revolutions have yielded enough lessons that organizations that do not progress fairly quickly will be less competitive or even obsolete when confronted with disruptions in each industry. It is therefore urgent for organizations of all sizes to transform themselves digitally through changing demands both internally and externally, in order to remain relevant. This involves transformation into four key pillars; by empowering employees, engaging customers, optimizing operations and turning into new products, services or business models, and data and cloud are the key factors of these.

Specific Startups and Digital Leading Companies in Asia and Their Extraordinary Growth

There are roughly 500 digital companies in Asia amongst which we have the following top leaders;

One97 Communications (India)

A mobile Internet company in India backed by Alibaba Group, One97 is probably best-known for launching mobile payments platform Paytm, which is spun off into a separate company this year and is reportedly valued at more than $1 billion.

Paytm is an Indian electronic payment and e-commerce company based out of Delhi NCR, India. Launched in August 2010, it is the consumer brand of parent One97 Communications. The name is an acronym for "Pay Through Mobile." The company employs over 13,000 employees as of January 2017 and has 3 million offline merchants across India. It also operates the Paytm payment gateway and the Paytm Wallet.

Paytm’s platform, which gives users different ways to top-up their online account, is important because it provides e-commerce payment methods for the many Indian consumers who don’t have bank or credit cards. It also recently granted provisional approval to act as a payment bank by India’s banking authority, which gives Paytm more opportunities to expand its fin-tech services.

The paytm team strive to maintain an open culture where everyone is a hands-on contributor and feels comfortable sharing ideas and opinions. In addition to usability, the team strive to create accessibility, convenience and credibility of the system.

Practo (India)

The health technology startup, whose investors include Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Google Capital, and Chinese Internet giant Tencent, is eyeing international growth, with China first on its list of new markets.

Practo wants to improve healthcare with two main products: a marketplace that helps patients find the best doctors and cloud-based practice management software called Practo Ray.

Practo Ray has 10,000+ doctors on the system. Over 10 million electronic patient records (doubling every year) have been created, over 7.5 million unique patients and over 7 million appointments are being made every year. In Singapore, Practo Ray is also the largest online clinic management software provider in terms of market share, reaching this milestone less than 2 years after launch.

Practo.com has over 1,00,000 doctors listed from over 310 Indian towns and cities, with comprehensive coverage from the metros of Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Singapore. It has over 1.3 million pageviews and 30,000 appointments booked every month, with traffic growing at 24 per cent per month. The company has seven offices, in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Singapore. In terms of revenue, Practo has been growing at 50-100% QoQ.

Technology and healthcare are at the precipice of a bountiful union that will provide clinicians and patients with integrated health information and trends for top notch patient care. Technology-based services have been developed to address patient expectation of care and delivery of care and have been successful in that endeavor. Even though the complexity of remote clinical technology will increase in the coming years with wearable technology and digital therapies, the healthcare sector has a greater challenge to overcome the barriers of system interoperability and data access. Until the medical world accepts and addresses these issues the longer it will take healthcare to provide clinicians and patients robust infrastructure to drive healthcare trends into the future.

Coupang (Korea)

An e-commerce company based in Seoul, Coupang joined a small but growing list of Korean unicorns this summer when it scored $1 billion in funding from SoftBank at a reported $5 billion valuation.

South Korea’s high smartphone penetration rate has helped Coupang grow rapidly, but the company doesn’t just rest on its mobile commerce chops. It’s also built its own logistics network, with delivery staff who act as brand ambassadors by handing out product samples and handwritten thank you notes.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Coupang’s founder Bom Kim says that the capital will be invested in two key areas: the technology behind its mobile apps, which generates 70 percent of Coupang’s revenue and 80 percent of its total traffic, and its logistics network, which can provide delivery within the same day (or several hours in some parts of South Korea). It will also make additional hires for its engineering and research and development offices, which are located in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Shanghai, in addition to Seoul.

Coupang claims to be Korea’s “most well-funded private technology player,” with nearly half a billion USD in cash. In 2013, the company says it exceeded $1 billion in annual gross merchandise value and is currently operating at an annualized run rate of over $2.2 billion. It’s main competition is eBay Korea, but that is mainly a C2C business, while Coupang is a B2C play.

DJI (China)

Started in 2006, and HQ’d out in Shenzhen in China, DJI is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong. It manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, for aerial photography and videography, gimbals, flight platforms, cameras, propulsion systems, camera stabilizers, and flight controllers.

DJI is the world's leading company in the civilian-drone industry, accounting for 70% of the global consumer drone market.

Known for its high-end consumer drones, Beijing-based DJI spent 2015 laying the groundwork to tackle new use cases and stay ahead of competitors.

The company is building a software developer ecosystem so its drones can be used by enterprise customers in industries ranging from to logistics and mining to agriculture (one of DJI’s latest UAVs is sprays pesticides). One of its most notable clients is Walmart, which is using DJI drones for an experimental package delivery program.

Many fans call it the “Apple of drones, because of its 70% market share of consumer drones.

It is also known to be the first Chinese company to lead a global tech revolution! As of 2015, the company stands at $1.0 Bn revenues and with 4000 employees, operates divisions in China, Hong Kong, Japan, North America and Europe.

DJI manufactures a range of products for various purposes, mainly including – industrial, professional and amateur use that includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (e.g.: Phantom series, Flame Wheel, Spreading Wings), Gimbals, Flight platforms (e.g.: standalone ground-based camera platform), Cameras, Propulsion Systems, Camera Stabilizers, and Flight Controllers Camcorders, Modules, flight controllers for multi-rotors, Unmanned helicopter, helicopters accessories, etc…

According to Forbes, DJI’s market dominance has garnered it a $10 billion valuation, as private equity firms like Kleiner Perkins and Accel Partners have poured hundreds of millions of dollars in capital to gain a slice of an industry expected to grow 800% to $27 billion by 2021. Perhaps rightly so, DJI’s market leadership position, along with the company’s history, has drawn parallels to another pioneering tech giant: Apple Inc.

The price history chart of DJI drone

Fastacash Pte. Ltd. ( Singapore)

Founded in 2012, Fastacash™ provides a global social payments platform which allows users to transfer value (money, airtime, other tokens of value, etc.) along with digital content (photos, videos, audio, messages, etc.) through social networks and messaging platforms. The company has developed a patent pending link generation technology that enables the value transfer with a secure link.

The versatile platform supports any payment type and the social mobile payment solutions of fastacash is easily adapted for use across various industries and partners including banks, money transfer operators, mobile payment platforms, mobile wallet services, payment service providers, mobile network operators and social networks.

The Total Equity Funding of Fastacash: $23.5M in 4 Rounds from 7 Investors

Most Recent Funding: $15M Series B on July 14, 2015

iPay88 (Malaysia)

Having recently bag two ICT award for ICT Business Strategy Excellence and Top FPX Acquirer awarded by MyClear for the sixth consecutive year, iPay88 is prized for being a responsible and its continuous effort in achieving corporate sustainability. “This differentiates iPay88 as a socially responsible company,” said founder, KL Chan. Founded in 2006, iPay88 has become one of the widely used payment solutions gateway which helps e-commerce businesses across the ASEAN region - Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam as well as the Philippines.

Payment or transaction is an essential part in every industry ever since ancient times. Ever since 2006, iPay88 has envisioned a time where payment transactions are completed with virtual money. Recently, iPay88 has announced the launch of a revolutionary resolution to integrate digital payments with increasingly digital-dependent family lifestyles - Pay4Me.

The Pay4Me is an iPay88 payment solution that basically allows payment to be made on behalf of another person’s purchases. According to Executive Director and Co-founder, Lim Kok Heng, “Pay4Me is a useful and convenient online payment solution that is ideal for families with youngsters and older folks, or even domestic helpers who do not have easy access to credit or debit cards, or online banking options to transact online.”

“At iPay88, the path of innovation in business means doing something differently and better to make a positive difference in terms of value, quality or productivity by using emerging or proved technologies of the world. With Pay4Me, iPay88 offers a variety of different payment methods that cater to different age group and to serve different purposes. This ultimately could translate into higher sales volume for our merchants.”

Habibi Garden (Indonesia)

Indonesia’s tech industry is no longer just about e-commerce. Recently, we’ve seen more diverse ideas popping up from local and foreign entrepreneurs alike. Habibi Garden has developed an “internet of things”-based device that works as a sensor to monitor plant growth and output. The company aims to prevent crop failure in Indonesia, improve yield productivity and increase cost efficiency by avoiding over-fertilization and over-watering.

Habibi’s device is plugged into the soil to gather information on plant condition. The device collects precise information on light intensity, humidity, moisture and crop nutrients. Connected and networked with another piece of equipment called the Habibi dosing pump, the device uses the information collected to automatically feed crops based on real-time soil data.

About the Author Anthony Raja Devadoss

Anthony leads the team that brings BTI Consultant's client solutions into Asia-Pacific countries, including Executive Search, HR Consulting, Career Transition and Global Managed Services. With 12 years of experience with the Kelly Group, Anthony's role is to provide thought leadership, brand/strategy ownership and industry connection for BTI Consultant's business practices to infuse organisations with that indispensable competitive edge.

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