COVID-19 affected Asia Pacific first, and we expect the region will also emerge from the crisis first in 2021, before Europe and the US. Under the relentless pressure of new customer realities, the future is now in focus: The value of your company depends on how customer-obsessed, resilient, creative, and adaptive you are in jumping to the next growth curve in your industry. In 2021, businesses will further accelerate the pace of their digital activities, because they must.

Here’s a sampling of what a diverse group of our analysts from across the region see in the year 2021:

  • APAC will see a platform surge. APAC is already home to some of the largest platforms in places like China and India. However, we will see this battle ratcheting up in intensity, especially in India. Reliance’s Jio Platforms has already blazed the trail with a more than US$20 billion investment in their digital business. They are simultaneously lining up more investments for their retail platform. Tata in India has thrown its hat in the ring with an announcement of its super app. With Paytm, Walmart’s Flipkart in the fray, India will see some serious competition among these platforms. Likewise, Alibaba,, and Pinduoduo in China and Gojek, Grab, and Shopee in Southeast Asia will be competing in their respective regions to win digital customers.
  • 5G will finally make an impact, and China will be its epicenter. Markets have been hearing about 5G for some time. With low latency, high throughput, and many more technology promises, 5G has caught a lot of attention. However, it still doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of business impact. This is going to change. In China, with heavy government support, rapid rollouts across the country, and evolution of supporting tech, 5G will find an ideal breeding ground for innovations across various verticals. China’s experimentation and adoption of 5G-enabled business models and 5G-led innovation will offer valuable lessons to other countries and enterprises.
  • Values-focused firms will deliver higher profits than those focusing on profits alone. Up to one in three customers in the APAC region make values-driven purchase decisions. This generation of asserting customers is now beginning to vote for brands with their wallets. Brands can no longer work in the shadows with a constant spotlight on each of their actions, statements, and associations across social media. They must show their explicit commitment to respect customers’ privacy, for example. They must tackle complex economic, environmental, and social challenges that impact all of us. They must do so with integrity, competence, and transparency to earn the trust and loyalty of these values-conscious consumers.

In addition to these three important topics — we expect cybersecurity concerns to dominate the agendas of businesses and governments alike. We will see increased adoption of Zero Trust and evolution of regulatory frameworks for data protection and privacy. Further, we expect firms to sharpen their focus on employee experience as they struggle to deal with the people aspect of the pandemic.

There is so much more to discuss on these wide-ranging but very pertinent topics. Look out for our online events and outreach on predictions in your respective countries.

In the meantime, read our report for more details and more 2020 Asia Pacific-focused predictions. To understand the major dynamics that will impact firms across industries next year, download Forrester’s Asia Pacific Predictions 2021 guide.