As John Brand and I recently wrote, business intelligence (BI) adoption drivers, technology understanding, and organizational process maturity continue to vary widely across Asia Pacific (AP). But there is one constant in this market: the regularity with which BI appears at or near the top of CIOs’ priority lists.

While the gap between global best practices and regional implementations is closing, social, cultural, economic, and underlying technology trends will continue to affect BI adoption in the region for the foreseeable future:

  • Social. The adoption of social computing is expanding rapidly across all AP markets, but is particularly strong in growth markets like China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. As in North America and Western Europe, this adoption is already having profound effects on how organizations identify, understand, and engage with customers and other market influencers. But the lack of significant BI investments means that organizations in these growth markets are far more likely to consider issues like sentiment analysis, predictive analytics, and near real-time data access when sourcing initial BI projects.
  • Cultural. Some Asian cultures are much more sensitive to organizational hierarchies than others and may have an aversion to speaking out of turn. In the context of BI, having more access to more accurate and relevant data — and in particular acting on that data — is not always seen as a good thing. While we’re seeing a growing appreciation for greater transparency and visibility of data, organizations should be aware that the sharing and usage of more accurate and visible information may still need to be judiciously applied, especially compared with their global counterparts. While exploration and data visualization capabilities will be in strong demand generally across the region, institutionalized and enterprisewide solutions may be shunned.
  • Economic. While AP is fast becoming more globally integrated, local economic conditions still affect BI strategies and implementations. For instance, the choice of a single standard platform across the organization in a global enterprise may require the global operation to subsidize the cost of compliance to the standards within local AP markets. The disproportionate cost of license fees is a significant factor to consider, but limited access to in-region expertise and labor must also be part of the equation, as it may result in the sourcing of higher-cost skills from other, more expensive labor markets.
  • Technology. Technology has affected AP cultures deeply, for a variety of reasons. Historically, Japanese organizations have been averse to implementing packaged apps, while companies in both Japan and South Korea typically prefer to source from local brands. Singapore firms are adept at taking existing technologies and further innovating around specific business apps. Organizations in the Philippines and Indonesia are more likely to stretch the concept of commodity technologies within the enterprise.

BI tools, technologies, and strategies will continue to differ across AP, forcing organizations to allow degrees of conformance in different markets instead of dictating and strictly enforcing global standards. Don’t discount these differences — embrace them as the surest way to drive increased BI adoption and effectiveness.