July 29, 2018

Asia Set to Become World's Largest 5G Region by 2025, Says GSMA

Asia Pacific is on track to become the world's largest 5G region by 2025, led by pioneering 5G markets such as Australia, China, Japan and South Korea, according to the latest edition of the GSMA's Mobile Economy report. Authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the London, England-based GSMA, The Mobile Economy: Asia Pacific 2018 further says Asia's mobile industry added $1.5 trillion in economic value in 2017, equivalent to 5.4 percent of regional GDP, which includes direct ecosystem contribution (1.8%); indirect contribution (0.6%); and productivity improvements (3.0%).

The GSMA report presents the following five findings:

Mobile adoption growth slowing

According to the report, "Asia Pacific has been the biggest contributor to global subscriber growth in recent years and still has room for growth. As of the end of 2017, there were 2.7 billion unique mobile subscribers in Asia Pacific, accounting for two thirds of the region's population. More than half the world's mobile subscribers live in Asia Pacific – mostly in China and India."

In addition, the report explains that "growth has reached its peak and has started to taper out: between 2017 and 2025, the subscriber base is set to increase by a CAGR of 1.8%, down from 6.0% over the previous four years. Three key factors explain this slowdown:
  • The region is home to some of the most penetrated markets in the world, with minimal opportunity for further subscriber growth;
  • The region includes markets with very low penetration levels, where socioeconomic issues such as rapid population growth, poverty and inequality, unplanned urbanization and natural disasters create barriers to mobile adoption; and
  • Some markets have seen their previously strong growth stagnate due to the challenges of connecting those still unconnected, particularly poorer and rural communities.
"Despite reaching its peak in terms of subscriber growth, Asia Pacific will account for just over half of new subscribers globally by 2025. We forecast 424 million new subscribers to be connected across the region by 2025, bringing the total to 3.2 billion, or 73% of the population."

4G takes the lead, while commercial 5G approaches

The report points out that 2017 saw the first year when 4G surpassed 2G in total share of mobile connections. "The region is home to some of the world's most advanced markets in terms of 4G adoption, such as South Korea, Japan and Australia. However, emerging markets (including India, Bangladesh and Indonesia) will be the key drivers of 4G growth over the next few years. Across the region as a whole, 4G is expected to surpass 50% of connections by 2019 and will then dominate to 2025."

What is more, "5G will gain a foothold in the region by the end of the decade. With launches expected from 2019, networks covering 37% of the population by 2025, and increasing availability of 5G-enabled devices, 5G connections will scale rapidly, particularly in markets such as China, South Korea, Australia and Japan. By 2025, we forecast 5G connections to reach 675 million across Asia Pacific, accounting for more than half of the global total for 5G."

Mobile contributing to economic growth and enabling innovation

In addition to the aforementioned GDP growth rate, "the mobile ecosystem supported more than 17 million jobs and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with almost $170 billion raised in the form of general taxation. By 2022, the mobile economy in the region will generate more than $1.8 trillion of economic value added as countries continue to benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by increased take-up of mobile services."

Moreover, the Asia Pacific "region has become the world's largest retail e-commerce market, driven by the burgeoning economies in China, Japan and South Korea, where payment platforms such as Alipay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are fast becoming ubiquitous. More recently, however, a combination of market and demographic factors has resulted in countries in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, becoming the key drivers of growth. Mobile internet users in these markets are among the most engaged globally on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia, which provide scalable, readily accessible platforms for smaller retailers to transact online with their customers."

As a supporter of startups, I found particular value that "the startup ecosystem in Asia Pacific is growing rapidly, with the number of active tech hubs in the region's emerging markets doubling over the last year and venture funding into South/Southeast Asian countries tripling since 2016. Most emerging markets in the region are benefiting from big deal flows and growing interest from international investors, taking advantage of the optimism to improve their ecosystems and acting as alternative investment destinations to the more established markets."
Mobile essential to addressing social challenges

Having traveled to the Asia Pacific region on a number of occasions over the past few years, I have witnessed how the large-scale societal adoption and use of digital technologies has become "a key driver of measurable economic, social and cultural value, including increased productivity, a rise in employment rates, improved security and greater capacity to tackle social and environmental issues.

"Despite rapid growth in mobile internet penetration in recent years," the report claims "2.4 billion people in Asia Pacific remain offline, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, unable to benefit from the social and economic opportunities of the internet. As challenges around infrastructure, affordability, consumer readiness and content are addressed, an additional 1 billion people will gain access to the mobile internet across the region by 2025, bringing the total to 2.7 billion, or 63% of the population.

The GSMA report encouragingly notes that "[m]obile is also playing a key role in tackling various social and economic challenges as outlined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the mobile industry's contribution can be seen across all 17 SDGs, there are two areas of particular relevance in Asia Pacific: firstly, leveraging mobile operators' big data capabilities to address humanitarian crises, including epidemics and natural disasters; and secondly, supporting initiatives in low- and middle-income countries to reduce the gender gap in mobile internet and mobile money. Mobile technology provides access to tools and applications that help address these issues, and enables new technologies and innovations to build more efficient and environmentally sustainable societies."

Advancing digital societies in Asia Pacific

"As more countries continue to implement their strategies for digital transformation, proving identity online will become essential to participation and inclusion. To create digital societies, governments worldwide recognize the importance of a digital identity – being able to verify an individual's identity electronically. A digital identity acts as a gateway to enable faster and easier interaction with public institutions, and is essential for individuals to participate in a full digital lifestyle."

I strongly agree that "data privacy and the security of digital identities has assumed greater importance." The report adds: "While mobile operators apply high standards of privacy, data protection and security for their customers' data, the inadequacy of legal frameworks can worsen customer perceptions about operators' use of their data and potentially reduce their willingness to use mobile devices to access identity-linked services. A digital identity system must have a foundation of trust if it is to generate widespread acceptance among users."

Crucially, the report suggests "[c]oncerted action between governments and mobile operators can help reap the benefits that stem from digital identity and address the challenges presented by increasing cross-border data flows and cyber-attacks that affect digital commerce between countries and overall trade. When governments develop a national strategy underpinned by an enabling policy environment, the prospects are much better for mobile-enabled, digital identity services to accelerate a country's digital transformation, support digital and financial inclusion, and offer the benefits of convenience and reach."

What aspects of GSMA's report do you find valuable to your business?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

July 23, 2018

Looking Beyond Blockchain's Hype for its Strategic Business Value

As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, my colleagues and I are making efforts to better understand the workings of blockchain, which is a distributed ledger, or database, shared across a public or private computing network. Our efforts include reading an increasing number of articles coupled with attending events where we meet people whom are experts in the technology, founders of startups or managers representing investment firms that provide financial support to such startups. Despite the hype and enthusiasm surrounding blockchain, I am concerned about the lack of business model or strategic business value for the emerging technology.

In an article published by McKinsey & Company entitled "Blockchain beyond the hype: What is the strategic business value?" the authors note:
Blockchain was a priority topic at Davos; a World Economic Forum survey suggested that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027. Multiple governments have published reports on the potential implications of blockchain, and the past two years alone have seen more than half a million new publications on and 3.7 million Google search results for blockchain.
Most tellingly, large investments in blockchain are being made. Venture-capital funding for blockchain start-ups consistently grew and were up to $1 billion in 2017. The blockchain-specific investment model of initial coin offerings (ICOs), the sale of cryptocurrency tokens in a new venture, has skyrocketed to $5 billion. Leading technology players are also heavily investing in blockchain: IBM has more than 1,000 staff and $200 million invested in the blockchain-powered Internet of Things (IoT).
However, "Despite the hype, blockchain is still an immature technology, with a market that is still nascent and a clear recipe for success that has not yet emerged. Unstructured experimentation of blockchain solutions without strategic evaluation of the value at stake or the feasibility of capturing it means that many companies will not see a return on their investments. With this in mind, how can companies determine if there is strategic value in blockchain that justifies major investments?"

The article presents results from research that "seeks to answer this question by evaluating not only the strategic importance of blockchain to major industries but also who can capture what type of value through what type of approach. In-depth, industry-by-industry analysis combined with expert and company interviews revealed more than 90 discrete use cases of varying maturity for blockchain across major industries."

McKinsey's analysis suggests the following three key insights on the strategic value of blockchain:
  • Blockchain does not have to be a disintermediator to generate value, a fact that encourages permissioned commercial applications.
  • Blockchain's short-term value will be predominantly in reducing cost before creating transformative business models.
  • Blockchain is still three to five years away from feasibility at scale, primarily because of the difficulty of resolving the "coopetition" paradox to establish common standards.

The article further suggests companies should take the following structured approach in their blockchain strategies:
  • Identify value by pragmatically and skeptically assessing impact and feasibility at a granular level and focusing on addressing true pain points with specific use cases within select industries.
  • Capture value by tailoring strategic approaches to blockchain to their market position, with consideration of measures such as ability to shape the ecosystem, establish standards, and address regulatory barriers.
"With the right strategic approach, companies can start extracting value in the short term. Dominant players who can establish their blockchains as the market solutions should make big bets now."

I am not questioning the value of blockchain in itself or the technology's ability to transform a variety of sectors including agriculture, financial services, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retail, and transport and logistics. However, having witnessed the rise of the dot-com bubble in the 1990s and its crash in 2001, I hold reservations about the mad rush to dump money in companies focused on developing solutions around blockchain. Many of the companies I have encountered over the past few years have yet to present a viable business model that addresses the fundamentals every venture should be incorporating including a plan to monetize the technology, a coherent sales and marketing strategy, and a strategy to mitigate various risks that will prevent their business from becoming a successful (i.e., profitable) enterprise.

The McKinsey article begins by noting: "Companies can determine whether they should invest in blockchain by focusing on specific use cases and their market position." Good advice when trying to avoid the business trap of "if you build it, they will come."

Do you have concerns about blockchain's strategic business value?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

July 20, 2018

Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume Should Not Be Identical

The previous post on this blog focused on four ways job seekers and jump-start their job search. Identifying what kind of jobs you want to search and apply for is one step followed by updating your resume and LinkedIn profile. Based on my experience as an employer, many people mistakenly assume they should copy and paste the content from the former into the latter. Erica Breuer, founder of Cake Resumes, wrote an article for The Muse that presents four differences between the LinkedIn profile and resume.

1. It Should Tell a Bigger Story

Ms. Breuer says "[y]our LinkedIn profile is a place for all that additional color you cut your from your resume to make it one page. But I'm not just talking about including portfolio items, projects, more skills, and so on (although those are great things to incorporate).

"Let's take your professional experiences section, for example. You have the opportunity to give the backstory on interesting twists and turns that can't be explained on your resume. So, instead of sticking with bullets, share a bit about your work."

Similar to the resume, I recommend including milestones or measurements of success as you tell your bigger story on your LinkedIn profile.

2. It Shouldn't Be Tailored

I agree with Ms. Breuer that "[y]our profile should include a few crowd-pleaser items that will appeal to a wider audience." Regularly sharing articles that you find interesting gives people an understanding of the sources that help you make informed decisions, which is a valued-skill to many employers.

Moreover, authoring an article, which provides insights into how you synthesize information or identify a problem and formulate proposed solution(s), is another feature you can utilize to help make your LinkedIn profile standout from the crowd. Publishing an article also provides people within your network with an understanding of your written communication style, which many employers, myself included, find valuable.

Ms. Breuer's second point provides a reminder for job seekers to tailor their resume to the position they are pursuing.

3. It Should Include Back-up

"On your resume," Ms. Breur explains, "information is more or less taken at face value until it's time for your interview. But when you're making statements about your talents or work style on LinkedIn, you have the advantage of backing your claims up."

She adds: "You can say, 'I always go the extra mile' in your summary, but a dazzling recommendation from a former boss proves it. Or, instead of just including that you love to write, keep your profile's publications section up to date with new articles. Are you an expert with Salesforce? Get the skill endorsements to reflect it."

It is important to note, however, that I have endorsements for skills from people whom I have never met. Unfortunately, this diminishes the value of skill endorsements. Nevertheless, I certainly support posting recommendations from your former colleagues, clients or managers to your LinkedIn profile.

4. It Shouldn't Be Too Formal

"Robotic third-person resume language is not going to cut it here," says Ms. Breur. "A summary that reads like a bio on the back of a book is one that no one reads. Instead, draft it by writing the way you speak."

I support her suggestion of using "a conversational tone and pepper in details about your work that humanize you. Don't just talk about what you do; talk about why you love doing it. Instead of focusing on the number of years of experience you have in XYZ industry, explain how you got your start there. Weave in bits about the types of teams you've enjoyed working on, your personal philosophy, or what kinds of projects inspire you the most."

Lastly, the Muse published an article that contains a useful infographic entitled "17 LinkedIn Profile Must-Haves." Below are a few points that I see of particular value in having a strong LinkedIn profile:

Brand Your Professional Headline
"Include information designed to encourage your potential visitor to find out more about you."

Align Your Industry
"Be found by the right people by being specific about your industry(s)."

Be Active!
"Update your status on a regular basis" and "share thoughtful/insightful news within your industry."

Strut Your Stuff!
- "Add items to your profile, such as projects, test scores, courses, patents, certifications, and volunteer/causes."
- Looking for work? 42% of hiring managers surveyed say they view volunteer experience as equivalent to formal work experience."

Join Relevant LinkedIn Groups
- "There are more than 200 conversations happening each minute across LinkedIn Groups."
- "Joining a Group lets other contact you using the Group messaging feature."
- "STATISTIC: 81% of users belong to at least one group."

While not mentioned in the infographic, the value in participating in a LinkedIn Group provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge with people whom may be a prospective employer or have knowledge of an available job opening.

What do you think makes for a strong LinkedIn profile?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

July 15, 2018

Have a Clearly Defined Direction, Effective Networking, and Two Other Ways to Jump-Start Your Job Search

As a co-founder of CareerLight, LLC, a company that provides customized career training to international students to help them prepare for job opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, I share articles that may be of interest to our clients. An article that our clients found of particular value was written by Hallie Crawford entitled "4 Ways to Jump-Start Your Job Search."

Ms. Crawford, a certified career coach, speaker, author and freelance blogger for U.S. News & World Report, accurately notes that the reason job seekers give up on job searching, or feel overwhelmed before they begin the search, is because of "a lack of a defined strategy." She adds: "It's important to have a plan, a weekly schedule and to set realistic goals to have a successful search."

Below are Ms. Crawford's four ways a job seeker can jump-start their job search strategy:

"Have a clearly defined direction. Before you can start your job search, it's essential to know what your ideal next job is and what positions you want to apply for. During your search, all of your steps should take you toward that final goal. Otherwise, you won't get anywhere quickly in your job search."

Furthermore, according to Ms. Crawford, "Part of defining your direction is discovering or refining your personal brand. This includes things such as:
  • Your strengths
  • Your experience
  • Your personality type
  • Your values
"Not only will this help you search for the right kind of job, but it will also help you do better in job interviews. You will know yourself better and be able to represent yourself better to a hiring manager."

As an employer, I have a particular appreciation for those job candidates whom understand their strengths (and weaknesses), personality type, and values. The process of creating a personal brand is having a strong sense of self-awareness.

"Once you have identified what kinds of jobs you want to search and apply for, you will want to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. These items, as well as your cover letter, should represent you and communicate your brand. However, the formatting of your resume can detract from your brand, so make sure you are consistent in the font and format you use for your documents. Make sure to include keywords and marketable results in your resume and LinkedIn profile. Finally, ask a friend to proofread your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile."

A compelling cover letter should address your desire of wanting to work at the company you are seeking to be hired by (an employer or hiring manager will ask, "Why do you want to work for my company?"), an understanding of the position you are applying for ("Does the candidate understand the job requirements or responsibilities?"), and a summary of your skills and experience on why you are the ideal candidate for the position.

A resume that contains impeccable qualifications and an impressive work history will get lost if the document's format is poor. The ideal resume is one that starts with a strong list of qualifications and followed by experience demonstrating proof of the candidate's qualifications. Providing specific milestones or measurements of success are an added bonus!!

As someone who values technology, I prefer to view a candidate's LinkedIn profile over reading their resume. Therefore, a job seeker should spend time in developing a compelling LinkedIn profile. It is important to note that a resume and LinkedIn have distinctive purposes and should not be identical. I will publish a future post on this blog detailing those differences.

And yes, have a friend proofread everything. Failure to be attentive to details reflects poorly on your brand and hiring you poses a risk a company may not want to undertake. (I will NEVER hire a candidate that had a misspelling on their cover letter, resume or LinkedIn profile despite their impressive credentials.)

"Once your documents are updated, you must start networking, effectively. Networking is a critical element to your search, since 60 to 70 percent of jobs are found through the hidden job market. Try sites such as Twitter, Meetup, Facebook and LinkedIn. It's also helpful to reach out to your alumni or industry associations. Schedule two hours each week to keep in touch with your connections by emailing them an update on your search or an article, setting up a phone or coffee meeting and attending a networking event."

I strongly agree with Ms. Crawford's third point on jump-starting your job search. Networking and better yet, relationship-building, is essential to not just seeking out those hidden jobs, but advancing your career in the future.

"An underutilized tool that is helpful in your job search is the informational interview. This is a meeting or call with someone who works in the specific position or company you are interested in. Informational interviews are great for learning more about what it's actually like to have that job and networking into the organization you are interested in."

While my daily schedule is incredibly busy, I will make time to meet, either in-person or via a telephone call, with just about any job seeker who is interested in learning more about a particular company where I have an active role in its operations.

And Ms. Crawford is correct to explain that "[a]n informational interview is not a job interview, but bring a copy of your resume and business card just in case. Always follow up after an informational interview, thanking the person for their time."

What ideas do you have that will help job seekers jump-start their job search?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.