Disruptors create opportunities for ASEAN’s essential industries during global pandemic

November 26, 2020 | 10:56
The rapid digitalisation of ASEAN’s essential industries such as education, healthcare, and supply chain amid the global pandemic has opened new possibilities for digital disruptors, according to a new study by Cisco and Jungle Ventures.
disruptors create opportunities for aseans essential industries during global pandemic

A new report from Cisco and Jungle Ventures examines how the region’s essential services are innovating amid disruption

Titled Emerging Disruptors from the Global Pandemic, the report looks at the transformation of essential services in the region during COVID-19 and the models of successful disruptors.

It highlights how the national digitalisation agendas of many ASEAN countries has helped ease the transition for the region’s organisations to remote operations and working during COVID-19. As a result, ASEAN is emerging as one of the fastest growing mobile-first economies in the world, with the development of a multiple digital-native platforms spanning essential sectors.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated our inherent human capacity to innovate at scale and with speed, when faced with disruption. Some of the hardest-hit sectors at the start of the pandemic like education, healthcare, and supply chain logistics were able to reimagine the future, implement innovative strategies, and adopt an entrepreneurial and resilient mindset. We are now seeing large waves of innovation emerging which will cater to this new reality,” said Naveen Menon, president of Cisco in ASEAN.

disruptors create opportunities for aseans essential industries during global pandemic
Naveen Menon, president, Cisco in ASEAN

The report also showcases how changes in the global economy have contributed to the emergence of startups transforming and adapting industries and disrupting organisations. With the majority of the ASEAN’s economy still largely offline, this presents a large opportunity for technology startups. Recent data from STATION F, one of the world’s largest startup campuses, shows that 18 per cent of startups globally have made a pivot to address a new market since the start of the crisis and a further 13 per cent are considering a similar move in the next six months.

“Business disruption can be the trigger for innovation and many startups in ASEAN have been at the forefront of this digitisation shift to fill the gaps and capture the new opportunities that have emerged. As one of the largest early and growth stage venture capital firms in Southeast Asia, we are excited to partner with founders who are looking to solve these new, emerging, and very real challenges and build long-lasting, category-leading businesses,” said Amit Anand, founding partner of Jungle Ventures.

disruptors create opportunities for aseans essential industries during global pandemic

Amit Anand, founding partner, Jungle Ventures

The paper provides deep analysis on how businesses in three key sectors – education, healthcare, and supply chain & logistics – have responded to this crisis and adopted technology quickly and innovatively to minimise interruptions to their services.

Narrowing gaps in education

COVID-19 saw the shutdown of schools and learning institutes disrupting billions of students globally, including 160 million students in ASEAN, based on UNESCO data. Teaching quickly moved online, but on an untested and unprecedented scale, making it challenging for teachers to adapt. Despite its 350 million internet users, technology infrastructure and internet connectivity, the prerequisites to enabling distance learning were not equally accessible in different locations and communities within ASEAN.

The report finds that many companies have yet to venture fully into a blended learning and virtual learning experience but some key disruptors have already emerged and are forecast to gain further prominence. One of them is Jarimatika Foundation, which focuses on upskilling homemakers to shape the minds and skills of Indonesia’s next generation.

A new normal in healthcare

The report shows that a shift to digital technologies forced by the pandemic can represent a turning point for legacy healthcare organisations that are willing to invest in new digital technologies and transform their models. Agility and innovation are two important advantages for disruptors entering the healthcare market.

Leading disruptors in this sector include Homage, a Singaporean startup that is leveraging the rising demand for preventive care amidst a growing ageing population in the country by introducing personalised, expert, yet affordable care at home.

Moving forward, the study found that healthcare professionals and industry players must continue to adopt and leverage digital technologies well after the world has won its fight against COVID-19. Public and private healthcare facilities will need to adapt, while governments should enact policies to support this shift. This has the potential to shape a new normal in healthcare where technology-enabled primary and preventative care delivery models will emerge as game-changers in the long term.

Transforming supply chain and logistics management

The global pandemic has seen countries and companies around the world grappling with their heavy reliance and high concentration of supply chains in certain regions. COVID-19 created ripple effects across the global economy and cemented the importance of supply chain visibility and network mapping.

The study recommends that building the right business and strategic workflows can help resolve issues in supply chain and logistics management. Some of the key technology players changing the logistics market are those offering digital procurement solutions through a valuable and seamless combination of software and services. Moglix, a Singapore-based dedicated digital procurement platform emerged as one such company which enables manufacturing companies and their key sourcing partners to digitise the entire procurement workflow. While crisis control will never be fully automated, comprehensive supply chain visibility with real-time precise data will become a key success factor in the future.

Catalysing innovation and positive change

Changes in the global economy and the emergence of disruptors have demonstrated the need for startups to transform to adapt to and capitalise on the new growth momentum. In addition, the report recommends that governments and policymakers in ASEAN need to determine how their respective countries can capitalise on opportunities to modernise essential industries. Enterprises in ASEAN that are looking to capitalise on and support this digital disruption need to also work with their ecosystem partners to enhance offerings.

“A multi-pronged approach involving close collaboration among governments, the public sector, and private sector stakeholders is required to drive positive change in ASEAN’s startup ecosystem. We believe in the value of an innovation ecosystem and remain committed to fostering and scaling high-growth technology startups across the ASEAN region,” said Rajiv Menon, head of Cisco Investments and M&A for Asia-Pacific and Japan.

By Thanh Van

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