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Digitisation in Asia – The future is now

Frans Kok, General Manager, AEB Asia Pacific | Jan. 15, 2016
The trend toward digitisation has begun and seems irreversible. Now is most certainly the time to embrace the challenges and make the necessary changes so businesses can future-proof their success in the digitisation age.

Furthermore, once in effect, the recently-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will improve the efficiency of trade among the 12 Pacific Rim countries involved, with transparent procedures that will move goods efficiently across borders. What makes theTPP potentially game-changing is that all customs laws, regulations, and procedures will be made readily available online, so that the information is easily accessible by businesses. Within the TPP, rules also will be put in place to ensure that government regulations in TPP markets will not impede cross-border data flows, or impose unnecessary localisation requirements.

The human role in digitisation
As businesses and supply chains move towards increased digitisation, management and organisational structures need to be re-examined. The roles of employees are under scrutiny as these developments unfold. The questions that inevitably arise are: Where do humans fit in in the businesses and supply chains if machines, means of transport, and goods all run on automation? Will humans still have a role to play in the future - and if so, what kind?

Here, opinions diverge: According to Professor Shantanu Bhattacharya, Academic Director of the Doctor of Innovation and Doctor of Business Administration programs at the Singapore Management University, "the role of people will change, but there will still be a need for people. We will always need people for the most complex jobs and the running of these machines".

But not everyone is so optimistic. According to Brian Prentice, VP of Gartner Research, IT's disruptive influence and the subsequent labor reduction effect of digitisation will have major social repercussions in the coming years. This will trigger "a quest for new economic models in several mature economies."

The digital revolution
The skills of today's technicians may lose their value, but other qualifications may also gain in value as production becomes more complex and requires greater expertise to manage. In light of this, training and continuing education are becoming more crucial than ever. Employees should learn about Industry 4.0 and keep up with the latest developments - and take action to boost their qualifications.

Digitisation is still quite some way from being fully integrated and implemented. The reality is dominated by a mix of electronic and paper-based processes, and organisational structures are often characterised by functional and geographic silos that fail to exchange information openly.

This leaves a good number of questions still open for customs specialists, IT directors, and logistics and supply chain managers. But the trend toward digitisation has begun and seems irreversible. Now is most certainly the time to embrace the challenges and make the necessary changes so businesses can future-proof their success in the digitisation age.

AEB graphic 3
Click on infographic to enlarge.

 

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