Digital disruption is accelerating the transformation of Asian businesses more than ever. With the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, there is an even greater impetus for businesses to digitize more aggressively in response to rapid economic shifts in the post-coronavirus era.
Today, when we think of digital disruption, what comes to our mind is often the highly visible world of tech such as smartphones, drones, and autonomous vehicles. However, the new trends focus overwhelmingly on invisible technologies, and a new mindset of harnessing intelligence to fundamentally change how we connect, run businesses, or make life easier for our consumers.
In this article, we will share the top 4 technology trends in Asia-Pacific that we see as key to driving digital adoption in the years to come.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
- The main trend driving all others is that ongoing digital innovation will continue to be powered by AI – defined by Accenture as a constellation of many different technologies working together, artificial intelligence enables machines to sense, comprehend, act, and learn with human-like levels of intelligence.
- AI had already transformed our lives in many ways – the navigation apps, media services or ride-sharing apps that are so much integrated into our daily routines.
- More recently, we see AI being deployed to assist humans in the diagnosis and treatment of coronavirus, and in technology tools to track and fight the pandemic.
- In addition, the science of predictive data analytics is transforming the way businesses interact with their customers. From being able to analyze data to understand what happened, to a real-time understanding of what is happening to being able to predict what is going to happen.
- We also see a trend of machine learning increasingly being democratized as a result of open source initiatives and off-the-shelf algorithms. This will empower Asian startups and SMEs to start building more of their own AI solutions.
6G mobile network
- It is unbelievable that just as 5G networks were beginning to be rolled out, researchers are already working on 6G networks.
- 6G networks will offer even higher levels of capacity and lower latency speed compared to 5G networks. This means a near-instant and unlimited wireless connectivity.
- More than ever before, 6G networks will integrate a set of previously disparate technologies, including deepening learning and big data analytics, creating possibilities for extremely powerful applications.
- The 6G technology market is expected to facilitate huge leaps in the areas of imaging, presence technology, and location awareness, resulting in a proliferation of IoT usage.
- A possible use case is in the future of work, where users can collaborate more effectively by having a digital twin (e.g. in the form of a full-body human-size 3D hologram) of oneself participating in meetings remotely.
Robotic process automation (RPA)
- RPA is among the fastest-growing segments of the global enterprise software market, which grew more than 100 % globally in 2019.
- With high cost-effectiveness and scalability, RPA uses robotics to automate and streamline tedious tasks – it is in even greater demand now because of new requirements for social distancing and less human-to-human contact in business processes.
- 2 key areas of RPA: industrial robots – mainly deployed in a factory setting; and service robots – usually used in retail, hospitality, healthcare industries.
- One interesting innovation in this area is Digital People by Soul Machines, where a digital model of a real person capable of mimicking human-like interactions is used as a chatbot to create engaging and emotional connections with customers.
- An autonomous vehicle is equipped with technology that can sense and interpret its environment, thereby allowing for the vehicle’s operation without any human involvement. It can go anywhere a traditional vehicle can and do practically everything that an experienced human driver does.
- By removing humans from the equation, autonomous vehicles bring a host of benefits to both businesses and individual consumers.
- Singapore launched a commercial autonomous bus services pilot in end-January 2021 to assess viability of the on-demand service, passenger safety, service reliability and efficiency.
- Autonomous vehicles have also been tested in China by JD.com and Meituan to facilitate deliveries.
- According to a study on autonomous vehicle adoption by BCG, more than 12 million fully autonomous vehicles and 18 million partially autonomous vehicles are expected to be sold per year globally, by 2035.
In conclusion, we can expect that these trends will transform business models and change the landscape in which Sodexo operates in today. At Sodexo Ventures, we strive to identify partners in these areas who can help us build breakthrough products and solutions to transform our business and enhance our services going forward into the future.