Next 10 years to be 'decade of innovation' for Asia

Region "historically" less innovative than Western counterparts but this is set to change as companies here look to new ideas for long-term growth, says consultant.
Written by Liau Yun Qing, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Asia has "historically" been less innovative due to its role as the "back office" of developed parts of the world, said a Frost & Sullivan analyst. However, companies in the region are improving in order to compete with the Western world for long-term growth, he pointed out.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia Thursday, Aroop Zutshi, global president and managing partner of Frost & Sullivan, noted that during the first phase of their economic development, countries such as China and India were largely seen as the manufacturing base and back office for companies from the Western world.

Such an image, however, is set to change, he said. Noting that many Asian companies have already entered the Fortune 1000 charts, Zutshi added that more companies in the region will focus on innovation as they recognize that in order to be successful in the longer term, they will have no choice but to follow in the footsteps of their Western counterparts and innovate.

The Frost & Sullivan global president highlighted India's Tata Motors' sub-US$2,000 automobile and South Korean electronics giant Samsung's advancement in LCD displays as examples of innovation from Asian companies. "The next decade will be the decade of innovation for Asia," he predicted.

In his keynote speech at the Singapore leg of Frost & Sullivan's GIL (Growth, Innovation and Leadership) Global 2011 event, Zutshi also highlighted seven perspectives CEOs should note in order to make good and informed decisions. They were: competition; customer; technology; industry convergence; economic; global; and best practices.

Elaborating, he told ZDNet Asia that industry convergence and best practices were often missed out by CEOs.

A company that does not fully recognize the convergence of different industries, he warned, will miss out on new opportunities and become irrelevant within a few years. According to Zutshi, Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs was "the most recognized visionary" who foresaw the convergence of entertainment and digital media.

Apple's launch of the iPod music player and iTunes changed the dynamics of selling records, he noted. Consumers no longer need to purchase a full CD just for one song they like; instead, they are able to buy each song at 99 cents, he said.

Best practices, he added, is often cited as "the biggest internal challenge" by CEOs. Even the best plans can be thwarted by the lack of best practices as the strategies are not able to reach their full potential, he explained.

The consultant pointed out that such resources are available in the market, as companies such as Frost & Sullivan publish guides, tool kits and case studies to equip companies with industry standards and related information.

IT, urbanization, healthcare to shape world
In a separate presentation, Manoj Menon, Frost & Sullivan's partner and managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, revealed 10 global mega trends that the research firm believes will influence and shape the world over the next decade. Companies, he pointed out, need to be aware of the trends and look for areas in which they can participate to grow their business.

Among the ten trends are: urbanization; e-mobility; social trends; technology; innovating to zero; infrastructure development; healthcare; connected devices; new business models; and the increasingly rapid span of influence.

Elaborating on the trends, he noted that urbanization means city areas will become more populated, which will lead to greater pressure on infrastructure. To keep up with the population increase, cities will need to become smarter and this requires the integration of ICT and city planning.

Menon also predicted the growth of electric vehicles, which will create a new ecosystem that includes not only automotive makers but also utility companies, charging station manufacturers, integrators and so on.

On technology, the analyst said cloud computing will "change the ICT landscape in an unprecedented way". He predicted that in the future, companies will have a "cloud-first policy" and choose to invest in a hosted IT product over on-premise technologies.

According to Menon, more companies will also look to "innovating to zero"--reducing to zero carbon emissions or footprint, accidents or security breaches.

He concluded that the 10 trends are individually important yet interconnected. Thus, companies should look to synergize with other players to better capitalize on the trends, he said.

Editorial standards