Digital analytics key to growth: Asia Pacific CEOs

Businesses in the Asia Pacific economies are utilising technology in a variety of ways, but the two standouts are using data to forecast demand and using social networking to reach customers and make decisions. This includes making use of integrated systems, data from the networks and customer feedback.

These are among the main findings of the PwC study New Vision for Asia Pacific: Connectivity Creating New Platforms for Growth, that was released at an economic leaders’ forum of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Beijing.

Among respondents, those who believe they’re on top of their information foundation and, at the same time, are more responsive to changing demands, are far more likely to be ‘very confident’ of revenue growth in the next 12 months (63 per cent) than the average of their peers in APEC (46 per cent).

“We are all in the midst of transformation, in which information and speed are key drivers of success. We are competing, not only on the quality of our services, but also on the speed at which we provide these services,” said Noppadol Dej-Udom, group chief financial officer of Thailand telecommunications business, True Corporation Plc, one of the executives quoted in the report.

“Enterprises will need more and more connectivity and a better flow of information to survive in this digital era or they will be replaced.”

PwC's International Survey Unit conducted the APEC CEO Survey 2014 between June and August 2014 covering 635 CEOs and industry leaders across 39 nations with operations in APEC economies. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, is the premier economic organisation in the Asia-Pacific region. Established in 1989 by 12 economies, its 21 member economies today account for 55 per cent of global GDP.

Enterprises will need more and more connectivity and a better flow of information to survive in this digital era or they will be replaced.

The survey points out while many businesses are jumping on social media, they aren’t quite sure what to do with the data yet with only 12 per cent being ‘very confident’ that they’re profiting from their investments in social networks.

“In terms of using data to forecast demand, it’s a more positive story. Half of executives surveyed say their ability to forecast market demand for products and services is improving. Greater use of data to fortify predictive models plays a role,” says Craig Rice, PwC NZ strategy and markets partner.

The survey finds data-driven changes are having an impact with 57 per cent of executives saying they are more confident of their abilities to respond to changes in the marketplace, and half say they are more skilful at forecasting demand. These executives are more likely to be “very confident” of growth (67 per cent) than their peers.

Technology also seems to be driving collaboration. Nearly 60 per cent of executives say they are now more willing to share insights and resources with business partners in order to speed product development and gain market access. And more than 40 per cent say their company will likely enter a business combination outside of their core industry.

While many APEC businesses may not be ready to fully participate in the digital economy, close to one billion people are believed to be active users of social networks in Asia Pacific, representing a market penetration of 25 per cent and increasing.

“Asia Pacific today stands at a turning point as advancing technologies move beyond national boundaries and create new demands and even new industries,” says Rice.

“CEOs see the need to be bold in breaking down the barriers to growth. They want to finalise the Trans-Pacific Partnership, address intellectual property issues and encourage regulatory harmony in the region.”

“Businesses are investing in a different Asia Pacific with rising numbers of urban middle-income consumers demanding new, technologically advanced products and services from business and governments. In its 25th year, APEC has an ongoing and important role to play in helping to meet these demands and advancing growth throughout the region.”

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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