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The ABC of doing business in Asia

Zafar Anjum | May 14, 2014
To be an Asia Business Champion (ABC) in a turbulent business environment, companies need to have the right sets of business and financial strategies in place, says Nathan Bell, Director of Marketing, Product, and Pricing, Telstra Global.

To stay afloat, expanding into newer, rapidly developing markets and thriving in them is crucial. In our study, we saw that Asia Business Champions are more likely to take the plunge and invest in a market that is still developing, compared to the rest. The returns of the investments might not be immediate but the long term rewards are plenty, giving companies a head start by the time the competition catches up. Patience is a key virtue when operating in Asia and unlike European or North American markets ROI can take some time to be realized.

Another challenge common among companies operating in Asia is the competition for high skilled talented employees in the region. Since each Asian market is at a different stage of development, the pool of skilled workers in not uniform. However, with the availability of user-friendly, advanced communication and collaboration platforms, training local workers have become a quick and cost-friendly affair. Moreover many countries, like Singapore for example, have government-led initiatives to boost skillsets and productivity of employees to pre-empt any likely shortage of talent in the future.

We believe succeeding in Asia needs to be a balanced two-pronged approach - on one hand, investments made in key markets or developing markets with immense potential are crucial. On the other hand, understanding the operating culture in each market and adapting corporate policies accordingly is equally important. Lastly, adopting the slew of new technology available in the market today ensures businesses have the latest, up-to-date tools to take on and thrive in Asia's competitive landscape.

What growth opportunities do you see in the overall Asian market and what will fuel that growth?

Asia is rapidly becoming the engine room of the global economy; while there are some clear stand-out markets, it is the region as a whole, in the development of its own ecosystem, which will fuel growth.

There are several areas of growth and opportunities present in Asia currently as matured markets like Singapore and Hong Kong continue to perform well. Maturing markets like India and China and growth markets like Myanmar and Vietnam are also posting strong figures and have the potential to grow further. 

First, there is growing connectivity between each market as a result of increasing internet penetration rates in markets like India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Inter-market connectivity allows companies to conduct business in real time and respond to market changes better.

There is also quicker adoption of key technologies like cloud computing, for example. A challenge companies face currently is the lack of uniform technology advancement within Asia, with some markets having comparatively more advanced technology infrastructure than others However, with quicker adoption of important technologies, the playing fields will become more level, making inter-market business transactions more seamless and collaborative. 


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