Asia’s digital advantage

Jeongmin Seong, senior fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute, discusses the rapid development of Asia’s digital economy, its impact on the global innovation space, and the important roles governments play in the Asian digital economy.

What are the top three most disruptive, powerful forces shaping Asia’s digital ecosystem 10 years from now?

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Asia’s digital economy is developing rapidly. It is not only shaping the future of Asia, but also the global innovation landscape. And there are three reasons behind this.

The first is Asia’s scale and speed advantage. Asia has more than half of the global Internet population. China and India are the top two and other countries are catching up rapidly.

Second is the rapid emergence of Asian digital innovators. Asia is home to about 40 percent of global unicorns and the time to get to unicorn status is about 50 percent faster than the Western counterparts.

Third is the role of the government. In some cases, governments didn’t intervene much, and they created lots of white space for innovators to experiment. For example, in the space of mobile payment or mobility. In other cases, government has been an active promoter of artificial intelligence (AI) and the digital ecosystem.

How should CEOs be responding to these forces as they think about their business strategies for the next decade?

All of this means that in order to win in Asia, CEOs need to embrace digital transformation strategies in a very bold way. They need to think about how to use the data, partnering with the digital champions, and also digitizing their own operation as well.

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