December 31, 2019

2020 Will See a Pick-Up in Global GDP Growth and Global Trade, Despite Continuing Trade Tensions

"After a gloomy year, the world's major industries are looking for an upturn in 2020. However, much will depend on policies in the US," says a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU), the research arm of The Economist, in its Industries in 2020 report.

In its Industries in 2019 report, The EIU "highlighted five major risks that could undermine global business during the coming year. Four of those risks came true: the deepening of the US-China trade war, an emerging market downturn, tussles over technology and sanctions on Iran. These all dented economic growth and consumer confidence, dragging down sales across several business sectors during 2019. The fifth risk we mentioned, Brexit, has still not happened, but continues to overshadow business in Europe."

The EIU is "expecting a pick-up in global GDP growth and global trade in 2020, despite continuing trade tensions. However, regional trends will diverge, leading to mixed growth forecasts for the six major business sectors covered in this report: automotive, consumer goods and retailing, energy, financial services, healthcare, and telecoms. While there will be opportunities on offer, there are six factors that will determine the direction of these industries in the coming year:
  • "A sporadic recovery. Although the global economy will accelerate, growth will be led by an upturn in non-OECD markets, while OECD markets will remain subdued. However, GDP growth in China will also continue to slow, affecting global demand for many goods and exposing problems with manufacturing overcapacity.
  • "A watershed election. The US presidential election in November 2020 will be a turning point for several sectors. The re-election of the Republican president, Donald Trump, would slow the rollout of renewable energy, for example, while a Democrat victory could bring new efforts to reform healthcare, as well as sharp increases in corporate taxes.
  • "From trade to regulation. The US-China trade war will broaden to affect markets including the EU and Japan. However, the focus will turn from tariffs to regulation, particularly that of the financial and technology sectors. We expect more US sanctions against Chinese companies, as well as legal skirmishes over intellectual property.
  • "Asian alliances. While the US continues to raise trade barriers, Asia is forging ahead with new trade deals. The 16 countries in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) aim to sign an agreement in 2020, creating the world’s biggest free-trade agreement. Meanwhile the 11 countries in the overlapping Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) will continue to ratify that deal, while opening negotiations with potential new joiners such as China.
  • "Brexit hangover. Even if Brexit happens on January 31st 2020—as currently expected—uncertainty will not disappear. The transition period could be fraught, with short-term disruption to trade flows heightening political wrangling over future trade deals.

What is more, "These factors will affect all six of the industries covered in this report, to varying degrees.

"The automotive sector, which has tumbled in 2019, will benefit somewhat from the recovery in many emerging and developing markets. We see car sales heading into positive territory after dropping in 2019. However, commercial vehicle sales in particular will come under pressure from global trade trends as the US continues to threaten vehicle-producing countries such as Mexico, Germany, Japan, South Korea and China with increased tariffs. Brexit will also bring enormous challenges for Europe's vehicle sector, particularly for UK-based producers.

"Consumer markets will also be badly affected by global trade tensions, particularly in the electronics sector, while the political turmoil in Hong Kong will dent sales of luxury goods. This, combined with retail’s greater reliance on developed markets and the rise of online retailing, will slow global retail sales. We expect retail sales to rise by just 2.2% in volume terms, down from 2.5% in 2019.

"For the energy sector, the pledges made under Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2016 will begin to take effect in 2020, making this the base year against which 2030 targets will be judged. However, with the US on the brink of withdrawing from the agreement, global progress will be slowed. The target of slowing global warming to less than 2 degrees centigrade is looking increasingly unattainable, unless the US election results in an unexpected policy change. The oil sector will also be vulnerable to political shocks, although we expect slow consumption growth to keep prices range-bound.

"The financial services sector will see little uplift from accelerating global growth, because it will be more affected by the slowdown in core OECD markets. The economic weakness of developed markets will keep interest rates low, maintaining the pressure on banking and investment margins. Several major financial hubs, including Hong Kong and London, will also be fragile amid difficult political conditions. However, the expansion of digital banking will hold immense promise for increasing financial inclusion in emerging markets.

"For the healthcare sector, too, the US presidential elections will be a particular watershed. Debates will rage over healthcare reform and drug pricing. With other countries also bearing down on prices but expanding access to healthcare, we expect global health spending to accelerate sharply, while spending on pharmaceuticals slows.

"In the telecoms sector, investment in 5G and fiber fixed-line services is likely to be a top priority in 2020. However, companies will have to invest with little certainty of a return and with regulation still uncertain. Moreover, the US-China trade war will continue to pose a major risk, given the dominance of Chinese companies such as Huawei in the build-out of telecoms infrastructure."

The report adds: "As a result of these trends, our key global forecasts for the six industries covered by this report are:
  • new-car sales will recover to grow by 1.7%, but CV sales will edge down by 0.1%;
  • retail sale volumes will increase by 2.2%, slower than the 2.5% reported in 2019;
  • global energy consumption will rise by 1.8%, with particularly strong growth for renewables, while oil prices will remain range-bound;
  • bank balance sheets and lending will expand by 6.5%, with Asia leading the expansion;
  • healthcare spending will climb by 6.2% worldwide in US dollar terms, despite growth of just 3.1% for pharmaceuticals; and
  • global mobile subscriptions will increase by 3%, fixed lines by nearly 2% and broadband subscriptions by 6%.

"Despite these mixed forecasts, there will be opportunities on offer for companies that are competitive and international enough to take advantage. Even so, they will have to be nimble to adapt to rapid changes in the business and political environment."

Lastly, The Economist produced a video presenting its predictions for the top stories of 2020.

What are your predictions for 2020?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

December 30, 2019

Adoption of IoT Among Enterprises Will Drive Overall IoT Growth in the MENA Region

The previous post focuses on a report by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, a UK-based trade organization, about how the mobile technology sector is predicted to reach just over $220 billion by 2023 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. "The 2020s will see 5G activities become more widespread across the region. . . . By 2025, there will be 45 million 5G connections across the region, accounting for 6% of total mobile connections." The rise of 5G in the MENA region will lead to the adoption of connected devices or Internet of Things (IoT). This is the subject of another report published by GSMA Intelligence.

Realizing the Potential of IoT in MENA presents five key findings:

IoT connection growth in MENA second only to Asia-Pacific

"IoT connections in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are growing at a rate second only to Asia-Pacific. With a well-established smart city vision acting as a catalyst for the IoT market, initiatives from governments and the mobile industry are expected to be fundamental in helping IoT revenues reach $55 billion by 2025. The commitment to and innovation in IoT seen across MENA is also expected to benefit the GDP of the regional economy to the tune of $18 billion in 2025."

Operators need to move beyond connectivity to monetize IoT

"The region's IoT ecosystem (which includes operators, IoT vendors, systems integrators and business customers) needs to exploit the synergies available from 5G-based IoT deployments to innovate, adopt and deploy new services. These include 'applications, platforms and services' – a category of IoT services expected to win a majority share of the market worth more than $30 billion by 2025. To take a greater share of the IoT revenue opportunity, operators need to move beyond connectivity into strategic partnerships with ecosystem players and even governments to launch new value-added services."

Governments play a pivotal role as policymakers and customers

"Mobile operators and the ecosystem as a whole cannot gain traction without the vision and support of regional and national policymakers to develop the IoT market and capture the social, commercial and economic benefits available. Governments can play a pivotal role as both policymakers and customers, as they have their own digital transformation agendas. National governments can encourage IoT market growth through regulation (e.g. smart fire alarms) and by exploiting the power of IoT sensors and automation to enhance public services."

Strategic opportunity lies in integrating security and data protection in IoT

"This report illustrates the market potential across MENA's IoT ecosystem and points to growth trends in smart cities, industrial IoT and consumer IoT. But it also recognizes the challenges, with the biggest likely to be around security and data protection. The region has a strategic opportunity to lead on security by design and ensure cybersecurity and data protection are built in from the start. The GSMA and mobile industry have contributed to the security initiative by introducing the GSMA's IoT Security Guidelines and IoT Security Self-Assessment. This report includes examples of best practices from the global regulatory environment."

Mobile operators are vital to the success of IoT in the region

"Mobile operators possess foundational assets and capabilities for targeting the IoT ecosystem in the form of 5G and NB-IoT networks, the power of the SIM, and key customer-facing channels and partnerships to help take IoT propositions to market. Operators are in the process of establishing these assets in the IoT ecosystem, making them vital to the success of IoT services in the region."

Based on other reports and conversations my colleagues and I recently had with business leaders and government officials in the MENA region, there is a focused effort to rapidly scale the industrial IoT industry. The report encouragingly notes: "Adoption of IoT among enterprises will drive overall IoT growth in the region, resulting in industrial IoT connections overtaking consumer in 2018 and forming the majority of connections (57%), reaching 624 million in 2025 (see Figure 5). Governments in the region are both major customers and policy enablers of this industrial IoT."

Moreover, "Utility companies are installing smart meters to monitor customers' use of energy or water in near real-time, cutting costs and helping balance supply and demand. For example, Egypt and UAE utilize IoT-enabled water management to deal with insufficient groundwater reserves. Kuwait's Ministry of Electricity & Water in partnership with Zain and SAP is connecting over 1 million smart electricity and water meters, enabling real-time access to usage and billing data."

Lastly, "Smart buildings will continue to be the largest industrial segment throughout the forecast period, followed by smart metering."

Which IoT applications, platforms and services do you think will succeed in the MENA region?

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.

December 29, 2019

Mobile's Contribution in the MENA Region Will Reach Just Over $220 Billion by 2023

"5G services have become a reality in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region," notes a report authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, a UK-based trade organization. "As of October 2019, 10 operators had launched commercial 5G services in five GCC Arab States. Mobile operators in these countries are aiming to be global leaders in 5G deployments, while certain governments view the technology as a potential enabler for their digital transformation ambitions."

The report, The Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2019, further says, "The 2020s will see 5G activities become more widespread across the region, with trials and commercial launches expected in non-GCC countries. By 2025, there will be 45 million 5G connections across the region, accounting for 6% of total mobile connections."

While subscriber growth is slowing, mobile internet adoption continues to rise rapidly. "The MENA region has some of the most penetrated mobile markets in the world," the report explains. "By the end of 2018, nearly half of the 25 countries in the region had unique subscriber penetration rates of 70% or more. For context, the global average at the end of the same period was 66%. In the more mature markets of the region, subscriber growth has slowed to below 2% annually. However, there are still significant growth opportunities in frontier markets in the region, where subscriber penetration rates remain below 50%. On average, the region will record a CAGR of 2.7% between 2018 and 2025."

On the topic of mobile contributing to economic growth and addressing social challenges, the report says, "In 2018, mobile technologies and services generated 4.5% of GDP in the MENA region – a contribution that amounted to $191 billion of economic value added. The mobile ecosystem also supported 1 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with just over $18 billion raised through taxation. By 2023, mobile's contribution will reach just over $220 billion as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services."

The report's fourth and final chapter addresses how data privacy and governance take center stage in an expanding digital ecosystem. I concur with the assertion that "[f]or the digital economy to achieve its full potential, consumers must trust the online environment." The report adds: "As of 2019, more than 130 countries have enacted privacy and data protection laws. This number continues to grow, including across the MENA region."

What is more, "The European data protection regime, underpinned by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and its precursor – the EU 1995 Data Protection Directive, influenced the development of analogous legal frameworks around the world, including some countries in the MENA region. However, in most MENA jurisdictions, the protection of privacy and safeguarding of personal data is provided under general provisions of law rather than specific data privacy or data protection laws."

In addition to 5G, the report also addresses two additional trends shaping the digital landscape: cashless payments and blockchain. Regarding the former, citing the World Bank's 2017 Global Findex, the report asserts: "Cash is still the dominant form of payment across MENA, despite nearly 60% of adults owning a bank account. But this is changing rapidly, helped by growing innovation and investment in digital payment platforms as well as government policies to stimulate cashless payments. For example, Saudi Arabia has set an e-payment target of 70% by 2030, from just 18% in 2016, as part of the government's Vision 2030 reform plan. In Egypt, the government signed a law in April 2019 mandating the use of cashless payment by public and private entities."

As for the latter, "Distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) – including the most prominent example, blockchain – originated around the same time as bitcoin in the late 2000s, but are now being explored for financial, enterprise and public administration applications around the world. The MENA region is no different, with the growing application of DLTs across verticals and public sector services."

The report importantly mentions that the "GCC countries are global leaders in the international money transfer market due to the large expatriate population across the region. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are the world's largest outbound remittance markets; the UAE Central Bank reported that remittances from the country grew 3% in 2018 to total $46 billion. Blockchain has emerged as a key technology to facilitate international remittances."

Infographic: GSMA Intelligence

What mobile services or platforms is your business developing or utilizing in the MENA region?

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.

December 27, 2019

Big Data Solutions Will Positively Impact 150 Million Lives over the Next Five Years, Says GSMA Report

"Mobile big data offers an opportunity to create widespread social impact in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," explains a report prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia on behalf of the GSMA. "Governments and development agencies are seeking new ways to improve how they design, implement and monitor projects through harnessing more accurate, timely and accessible information. The proliferation of mobile networks combined with new capabilities in leveraging 'mobile big data' (MBD) presents a generational opportunity to address this problem since MBD solutions already generate rich and timely insights that can now be harnessed to drive social impact."

Mobile Big Data Solutions for a Better Future outlines how advanced mobile network analytics and AI can be applied to drive societal impacts supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report includes an analysis of five cases where mobile big data solutions could have a significant impact. A detailed methodology describing how the potential impacts have been calculated is outlined in the full report.

Access to healthcare (SDG #11)
  • 60 million people could have better access to healthcare due to more informed infrastructure planning via mobile big data solutions that target health facility deployment planning.
Managing air pollution (SDG #13)
  • 120,000 lives could be saved across the world’s most populated cities as a result of better-informed measures to limit air pollution, resulting in lower congestion and better transport planning.
Disaster response (SDG #13)
  • More than 25,000 lives could be saved from natural disasters in major at-risk countries by 2025 as a result of mobile big data solutions being able to aid quicker evacuation from dangerous areas.
Disease prevention (SDG #3)
  • Communicable diseases could be significantly reduced from spreading by targeting locations at risk of exposure through mobile big data solutions to understand population movements. This could result in 650,000 fewer cases of tuberculosis alone in the next five years.
Financial inclusion (SDG #10)
  • 70 million more adults could take up financial services in countries with large 'unbanked' populations as a result of mobile big data solutions targeting groups to raise awareness, trust and confidence in digital financial services.

Image: GSMA

Lastly, the report notes: "Realizing the potential of MBD places a call to action upon stakeholders to adopt change at a local and global level, through the following steps:
  • Secure commitment and encourage collaboration between public organizations, civil society, NGOs, mobile network operators and stakeholders to work together and understand how MBD solutions and capabilities can help solve problems, save lives, enhance project outcomes and reduce cost. This will involve securing commitments to MBD adoption, identifying challenges and barriers to uptake for the use of MBD to create social impact, direct and indirect, as well as encouraging mobile network operators to harness their wider mobile big data efforts to specifically create MBD sets which can be leveraged appropriately for social impact.
  • Invest in and refine end to end processes in implementing organizations spanning project identification, design and execution, so that MBD solutions result in integrating insights and creating measurable impacts. This will involve identifying change initiatives in government agencies and development organizations to adopt and use MBD solutions, investing in skills and organization development and in new ways of working. Organizations will also have to learn how to measure MBD contribution to attaining the UN SDGs for 2030, and embed such measurement approaches into projects and supporting processes for project management.
  • Design MBD solutions for scale so that countries and organizations can move quickly from being stimulated by inspiring examples of social impact, to achieving widespread scale through repeatable implementation in different and localized environments and circumstances. This will involve implementing agencies and mobile network operators working with others to build sustainable solutions and scale impact.
  • Adopt privacy and ethics practices and frameworks to continue to promote responsible use of data for generating social impact in public projects.
  • Build sustainable models for solution development and scaling, so governments, development agencies, execution partners, mobile network operators and other ICT companies can work together to implement MBD solutions which are sustainable over a long period of time and are supported by business models that encourage continued investment and innovation by all parties involved.

As explained by the GSMA, I appreciate how the "report illustrates ways in which governments and development agencies are able to harness the power of mobile big data; improving the ways in which they design, implement and monitor public projects." And I concur that "[i]f these MBD solutions are adopted at scale, they can help to tackle global challenges and deliver social impact."

Do you agree that big data solutions will positively impact 150 million lives over the next five years?

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.

December 4, 2019

Global Economy Will Be Poorer by 2050 Due to Climate Change, Says EIU Report

"The world will be poorer in 2050 due to the impacts of climate change," according to Resilience to Climate Change: Why developing countries will be most affected by 2050, a paper published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU). "How much poorer, and the distribution of this loss, is the goal of our new study into the economic impact of climate change."

By 2050, The EIU expects "the global economy to be 3% smaller than our baseline projections. At the country level, climate research to date has shown that it is most likely that those countries that are poorer and with higher average temperatures that will be the most affected."

The paper, however, contains three case studies demonstrating that "this does not have to be a prescription of how the impacts will unfold in a given country; governance, institutional quality and policy effectiveness all have the potential to curtail economic losses." These case studies "highlight the importance of both economic development and policy effectiveness to tackle climate change."

Importantly, "Being rich matters when it comes to minimizing the economic impact of climate change. Economists believe that institutional quality is a major determinant of long-run economic growth, but our results also point to the importance of institutional quality in minimizing the impact of climate change. Poor institutions, therefore, can simultaneously harm economic growth and exacerbate the negative impacts of climate change."

The paper further explains that "[i]nstitutional quality matters for a country's resilience to climate change via two policy areas: adaptation and mitigation policies. Adaptation policies," according to The EIU, "are defined as a country's initiatives and costs undertaken to adapt to climate change, as opposed to mitigation policies that aim to reduce emissions. Such policies are wide-ranging and country-specific, but may include: building flood defenses, improvements in water storage, protection of energy and public infrastructure, improvement in agricultural infrastructure, marine forecasting and early warning systems for aquaculture industries."

As reflected in the image below, the paper finds that:
  • Africa is the least resilient region to the impact of climate change (4.7% smaller), followed by Latin America (3.8%), the Middle East (3.7%), Eastern Europe (3%) and the Asia-Pacific (2.6%).
  • North America (1.1% smaller) and Western Europe (1.7%) display the most resilience and are likely to see the least impact economically because both regions are richer and more prepared to tackle climate change from an institutional standpoint.

Lastly, The EIU presents its climate change modelling framework that combines "elements of the Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy (DICE) model, developed by American economist and 2018 Nobel laureate, William Nordhaus, and our new Climate Change Resilience Index. A truncated version of the DICE model is used to capture the global impacts of climate change and the central assumptions that are made at the global level. The truncated DICE framework is then linked with a country-level Resilience Index for the 82 countries that The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts out to 2050, thus enabling the economic impact of climate change to be estimated at the country level."

The eight indicators that make up the index are:
  1. Loss of land/physical capital due to extreme climate/weather events
  2. Impact on public services, basic needs and government expenditure
  3. Impact on agricultural sector (Loss of Crop yields)
  4. Loss of Labor productivity
  5. Tourism Loss
  6. Trade Loss
  7. Adaptation Costs
  8. Mitigation Costs
What economic development initiatives and policies should governments implement to tackle climate change?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

December 2, 2019

GSMA Forecasts North America's Mobile Technologies and Services Sector to Generate Close to $1.2 Trillion in Economic Value by 2023

In a press release about its new report, the GSMA, a UK-based industry association, "highlighted North America as one of the most advanced mobile regions in the world – a result of significant operator investments in 5G." Authored by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of the GSMA, The Mobile Economy: North America 2019 "forecasts that almost half of the region's mobile connections will be running on new 5G networks by 2025. This is being fueled by operator spending on new networks, which is forecast to total more than $380 billion (Capex) between 2018 and 2025. These investments are increasingly being focused on building-out 5G coverage across the region, enabling a range of new services for consumers and enterprise."

The report reveals that:
  • There were 321 million unique mobile subscribers in North America in 2018, representing 83 percent of the population. The number of subscribers is forecast to rise to 345 million (85 percent of the population) by 2025.
  • The US is by far the largest market in North America (278 million unique subscribers), followed by Canada (29 million) and the Caribbean (15 million).
  • Around three quarters of the region's mobile connections are running on 4G networks.
  • The share of 4G connections will decline over the coming years as the market moves to 5G. New 5G networks are forecast to account for 46 percent of connections by 2025.
  • Mobile technologies and services generated 4.2 percent of North America's GDP in 2018, equivalent to $937 billion in economic value. This economic impact is forecast to increase to almost $1.2 trillion by 2023 (4.8% of GDP).
  • The region's mobile ecosystem also supported 2.3 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made substantial contributions to the funding of the public sector, with almost $123 billion raised through taxation last year (not including spectrum fees).
  • North America’s mobile sector is on track to generate $280 billion in revenue this year, a result of high levels of consumer engagement and spending on mobile services.

On the topic enabling the transition to a zero-carbon economy, the report importantly says: "Mobile technology's biggest impact on climate change comes from its ability to enable other sectors of the economy to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Operators in North America are providing connectivity for digital solutions that reduce GHG emissions, such as by reducing energy use or travel and transport."

Moreover, "As part of its efforts to fulfill the delivery of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," the report explains that "the mobile industry is making a specific commitment to SDG 13: Climate Action, reflecting the urgent need to accelerate action to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050."

Regarding connected devices (Internet of Things or IoT), the report notes: "The advent of 5G strengthens the development of the IoT market in North America, which will increase by 3.6 billion connections to a total of 5.9 billion connections by 2025." What is more, "Though short-range technologies (e.g. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) will retain a dominant presence, licensed cellular technologies will provide connectivity for an increasingly large number of trusted connections. Underpinned by operator deployments, LTE-M and NB-IoT will both experience robust growth."

As for cybersecurity, the report explains: "From e-commerce to online banking, online services provide myriad benefits, such as increased convenience and access to cheaper products. However, it also exposes consumers to privacy and data protection risks. In 2018, there were 1,244 data breaches in the US, which revealed nearly 450 million records – a 100% increase compared to 2017. Rising cybercrime is fueling consumer privacy and security concerns, which are the primary reasons for inactivity online."

What investment or business opportunities are you seeing in North America's mobile industry?

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.

December 1, 2019

Report Presents a Number of Steps Companies Can Take to Appeal to Millennial Customers in Asia

The previous post on this blog focused on a report commissioned by the Singapore Economic Development Board that examines the ways in which the consumer behavior and digital habits of millennials in Asia converge or diverge from those in other parts of the world. The Economist Intelligence Unit's (The EIU) Asia's digital millennials: Opportunities for businesses serves as the second of a two-part research program that explores what Asia's accelerating pace of digital adoption means for businesses, with a look at their strategies and operations. "In this EIU paper, executives from some of the biggest tech companies in the region share their experiences and approaches, illustrating that whatever their size or pedigree, companies must challenge their own thinking about what works."

In terms of improving a company's relationship with its customers, the findings include:
  • Businesses must match their mobile presence with a physical one, building trust and awareness by giving savvy consumers a chance to see, touch and try their products.
  • Companies must engineer their mobile platform to suit the tastes and expectations of users who are likely to demand of e-commerce platform more than just shopping, including entertainment, social connectivity and foreign products they can't buy locally.
  • Companies must create friction-free customer experiences by incorporating local preferences for payments platforms into their online services.

In terms of improving internal workflows and leveraging a business ecosystem, the findings include:
  • Companies must use their marketing, public-relations (PR), retail and supply-chain teams as hyperlocal eyes and ears to better understand and take advantage of the unique opportunities Asia’s ecosystems offer.
  • In a motivated but skill-starved region, companies must build strong local teams with a digital mindset.
  • Companies must build partnerships to complement their strengths with those of others—even potential competitors.

"In general," the report explains, "companies must keep a close eye on what underlying consumer demands they are aiming to address so as to fully capitalize on what Asia has to offer. These demands might change as the region evolves, so companies must also pay attention and adapt."

Moreover, "To keep up with increasingly sophisticated millennial consumers in Asia, companies in the region must be prepared to make a number of changes, from hiring staff to the products and platforms they build, including overhauling their online and offline strategies and thinking differently about their internal processes and the overall consumer journey."

Based on my recent travels to Asia, I am able to attest that the "fast-growing and dynamic region" is "rife with change." How is your business appealing to millennial customers in Asia?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.