After nearly two years of reactively dealing with pandemic-related disorder, turbulence, and uncertainty, firms in Asia Pacific are ready to proactively address changing customer and employee expectations. 2022 is a year to be bold. APAC organizations will implement future fit technology strategies such as cloud-native approaches to improve business agility and usher in a new era of regionally aligned hybrid-work strategies. This will lay the foundations for competing on the next battlefields: building customer trust and tackling climate change.

Here are a few of Forrester’s 2022 predictions for APAC business and technology leaders:

  • Only 40% of firms will make anywhere-work permanent, compared with 70% globally. As vaccination rates rise, workplaces are gradually opening. Globally, Forrester expects that 70% of large firms will embrace some form of anywhere-work in 2022. But region-specific pressures will force 60% of APAC firms to prepare to bring the vast majority of workers back to the office full-time. Only 34% of workers in the region’s large manufacturing sector can work anywhere. Outsourcing firms with purpose-built secure campuses and high-availability facilities can’t provide the same level of service in remote locations with poor infrastructure. Employees, unions, and regulators will push back on contact center operators who insist on surveilling employees working from home. High-density extended-family living likely accounts for the fact that 65% of APAC information workers are eager to return to the office; 58% say they are less productive working at home during COVID-19, compared with 46% globally. Firms operating in APAC need a region-aligned anywhere-work strategy that balances employee expectations with the feasibility of hybrid work approaches.
  • APAC firms will appoint a dedicated sustainability lead at a rate that’s less than half the global average. Companies must adapt to climate change or face extinction. Values-based consumers have made firms more aware of corporate social responsibility and sustainability; 42% of purchase influencers in APAC report that these initiatives have increased in corporate importance due to COVID-19. But too many firms’ sustainability plans remain performative. When asked what their firm is doing to meet sustainability goals, just 30% of APAC purchase influencers say their firm is making its sustainability efforts more transparent; 30% say it’s reducing its carbon footprint or e-waste; and 13% say it’s applying for B Corp certification. Among Fortune Global 200 firms in APAC, just 26% have appointed a sustainability lead at the director, VP, or executive level, compared with 81% in EMEA and 92% in North America. Most APAC firms’ sustainability efforts are driven by compliance and investor pressure, not strategic planning and risk management. This shortsighted approach will tick the box but not materially affect climate change. Appoint a sustainability leader and create a dedicated funded function — or risk alienating empowered customers, who see right through merely performative actions.
  • Financial services will be the first industry to adopt trust as a formal metric. The world is in a major crisis of trust, driven by concerns over public health, cybersecurity, data privacy, and sustainability. In response, companies and governments will use trust to demonstrate their commitment to customer relationships. In APAC, financial services will be the first industry to act. Four to six financial services pioneers will begin to measure and codify trust in 2022, as NatWest Group does with its net trust score linked to business KPIs such as customer deposits. Some firms will also take advanced measures to protect trust, like the consortium of 25 financial services and tech firms participating in the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Veritas initiative, which sets out principles for the ethical use of AI in credit risk scoring and customer marketing. Companies that ignore the trust imperative will lose 10% to 40% of their customers, starting with those unwilling to forgive firms for breaching their trust.

To understand the major dynamics that will impact Asia Pacific organizations next year, download Forrester’s complimentary Predictions guide. To dive even deeper, check out our Predictions 2022 complimentary webinar series and engage directly with the analysts who made the predictions.