Michael Barnes, VP, Research Director
Asia Pacific has shifted into innovation mode after two years of navigating the pandemic. In the digital sphere — specifically, access to virtual government services, use of digital currency, and cross-border digital frameworks — the region will extend its lead over other regions in the coming year. How can businesses take advantage, and what other trends should they anticipate? VP and Research Director Michael Barnes explains on this week’s episode.
Even before the pandemic, APAC countries led the world in providing digital government services that streamline access to tax and health records and facilitate procurement for businesses, among other benefits. In 2022, at least 1 billion people in APAC will access these services. Barnes says the region will also make strides in other digital society “pillars” including digital currency adoption (such as China’s government-backed digital yuan) and data interoperability, which ultimately will facilitate cross-border trade documentation, data sharing, and other capabilities.
APAC tech firms looking to innovate need to stay attuned to these developments. “There’s going to be a lot of opportunity [in the digital society realm],” says Barnes. Firms that stay focused will “be able to potentially capitalize and create differentiated capabilities.”
On other fronts, APAC will lag its global counterparts. Just 40% of the region’s firms will make anywhere work permanent, compared to 70% globally. That’s not necessarily a negative, Barnes points out — there are logical reasons for the difference. Only one-third of the region’s manufacturing employees can work remotely, for instance. It’s also common in parts of the region for families to live in “high-density, multigenerational environments” where maintaining productivity at home is difficult, he says.
Firms operating in the region need to balance the feasibility of hybrid work approaches with employee expectations. “If you’re able to do that and have some flexibility, then you can greatly increase your chances of rolling out and sustaining a successful anywhere-work strategy,” says Barnes.
In 2022, Asia Pacific will also continue to trail on sustainability. Forrester research published earlier this year showed that only 26% of APAC firms had appointed a sustainability lead, compared to 92% in North America and 81% in EMEA. While there are promising signs for the future — a more recent Forrester study showed that 53% of large firms in the region have committed to target dates for reducing their carbon emissions — much needs to be done to catch up with other regions. Firms must not delay taking substantive action if they are to win and keep consumers’ business, Barnes says.
Tune in to the full episode for a deeper dive into these predictions. Also be sure to visit Forrester’s Asia Pacific Predictions hub.