This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.
ASEAN's increasing connectivity coupled with the rapid adoption of advanced technology is driving the rise of a digital economy ripe with potential. People and businesses have better access to information across borders and governments are beginning to build foundations to support the ecosystem of innovative startups.
Encompassing economies at vastly different stages of development but sharing immense growth potential, it is easy to see why businesses foresee a myriad of business opportunities there. Thailand sets an example of rapid economic growth; it has managed to boost itself to an "upper-middle income economy" from a low-income country back in the 80s. Myanmar, despite being one of the poorest countries in the region, has an economy that is steadily growing with an expected GDP growth of 8.4 percent in 2016, higher than Singapore's, a more developed country, at 2.0 percent.
Connecting and Expanding Businesses
Today, internet access in Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a steady rate of 7 percent from now through to 2019, with internet user growth in the region largely attributed to the widespread adoption of smartphones in emerging markets. Smartphone adoption is also accelerating at a staggering pace, expected to nearly double from 1 billion unique users in 2014 to 2 billion users in 2019. In Myanmar itself, the number of mobile subscriptions doubled from 15 million in 2014 to more than 30 million today. This combination is changing how businesses' strategies and goals in engaging the end consumer are shifting.
Doing business online reduces transaction costs and easily overcomes distance constraints, reducing barriers to new market entry while allowing organisations to reach a broader market. This brings endless network opportunities and access to a wider customer base as organisations are able to respond faster with better connectivity in a cost efficient manner.
On top of that, businesses can reach a more targeted customer base and forego the need of having to spend on travel - all leading up to cost-efficiency. A simple analogy is the online retail sector - although e-commerce is still at its infancy stage in most emerging countries, businesses are able to extend their presence much more easily than before. Zalora, a Southeast Asia fashion shopping website, recently expanded to Thailand and Vietnam, capitalising on its online business approach to streamline its operating costs. Exponential growth opportunities are available to retailers as internet becomes more accessible and more end users go online, if they start off the right foot.
Know the risk before diving
Unprecedented opportunities and attractive business returns are available to organisations looking to expand into emerging countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, and Myanmar. As these countries' economies open up, domestic and international businesses should look into expanding into these markets and reach more audience. Yet, organisations should also be aware that emerging markets carry higher risk than the average investment, including foreign exchange rate risks, poor corporate governance system, and political instability, which is why putting the right cybersecurity measures in place has to be core in the business strategy.
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