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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.

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.

Anyone surveying the media landscape can see that digitisation and its technologies have a seemingly unstoppable momentum, even in corporate supply chains. But many businesses are still working with the same organisational, IT, and management structures. How long can this go on? What impact will digitisation actually have on supply chains? And what does this mean for those who work in the fields of global trade, logistics, supply chains - and IT?

"Everything that can be digitised will be digitised." This bold prediction was made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spoke at the Economic Council's annual Economic Conference in June 2015. In Asia Pacific, it has been forecast that annual smart city technology investments will almost quadruple by 2023, reaching US$11.3 billion.Even now, over 70 percent of Asia Pacific enterprises already have an Internet of Things (IoT) solution in place or are in the process of implementing one.

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-Charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office in Singapore, in his opening address at IoT Asia 2015, predicted that "the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be the tsunami of the IT revolution, with an estimated 30 billion devices installed by 2020." By comparison, only about 2 billion personal computers and another 2 billion smartphones have been deployed.

What is digitisation?
In spite of the fact that 'digitisation' is a widely-used term at global trade and logistics events, no consensus definition exists. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines 'digitise' as 'to convert (as data or an image) to digital form'. In contrast, in 2011, market research firm Gartner defined digitisation as "the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities." Rather than attempting the impossible of defining what exactly digitization is and is not, Gartner decided that this concept would be easier to grasp in terms of understanding the value to individuals and businesses who harness technology to enhance their competitiveness and success.

According to Strategy&, the consulting business arm of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), an entire generation, Generation C ("connected"), will have grown up in a primarily digital world by the year 2020. Exponential growth in IT applications, the increased affordability of smart devices, and improved internet speed and access have led to higher demand for connected devices. These are able to sense, communicate and share information, providing a wealth of possibilities in decision-making, status monitoring, and activity planning. This is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Why now?
Driven by innovations such as 3D printing, big data, sensor technology, and cloud computing, digitisation is becoming increasingly critical to add value for businesses across a range of industries.


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