Digital conversations in APAC

Digital Conversations in APACWhen we launched our new office in Singapore, we heard, from people across APAC, of the need to have a ‘digital first’ mindset, and the capability gap that organisations are facing with digital.  It was therefore fitting that we kicked off our series of seminars for the Singapore Marketing community with a digital focus, exploring the steps individual and organisations need to take, to take full advantage of the digital opportunity.

The invited guests spanned a breadth of industries from banking through to IT, FMCG to tech platforms, and offered rich insights into the capability challenges facing their organisations.

The seminar had two distinct focuses: first participants explored key steps to drive personal career success within digital. Then the group’s attention turned to the organisations they work in, and following a rich discussion, five key conclusions were drawn:

Champion Digital at the Leadership Level

There is a clear need for senior leadership teams in the region to grasp the transformative opportunity that digital presents and support the programme of change required. Whilst leaders often have a higher degree of digital literacy than their counterparts in other regions, the benefit is often felt away from the office rather than within the organisation where they can be resistant to change. The digital opportunities in APAC are vast, but the internal hurdles are also high and include determining the role of digital in achieving business objectives, the breaking down of siloes, integrating activities on and offline and joining the business up around the customer experience. To have the greatest chance of success, Digital Transformation needs to be a top-down initiative which benefits from continuous senior sponsorship.

Challenge Existing Conventions and Ways of Working

There is a need to challenge legacy ways of doing things which effectively create swim lanes for activity within region. The planning process, media buying and the relationships with retailers were quoted as examples of these and can make it very difficult to affect the changes needed and begin moving budgets to the channels where the consumers are, for instance mobile. The implication of this is the need to relook at processes and potentially involve new partners to form new ways of working.  

Organise for the Opportunity

There was agreement that common processes, ways of working and clear roles and responsibilities between global and regional teams is critical to leverage global scale whilst delivering most effectively for the unique opportunities within the region. The digital power platforms globally require an aligned approach but at the same time attention needs to be paid to key regional nuances, e.g. alternate partners for social, search and different pattern of usage for mobile amongst the customer base.

Innovate with new partners

A core principle in our recent Sharpening your Instincts thought piece < include hyperlink to blog > was to work with new laws of attraction, seeking out different partners to create value-adding digital work. This theme was picked up by the  group with participants expressing a desire to form coalitions of expertise with tech platforms as well as their agencies and therefore remaining agile in the fast changing Digital landscape within Asia.

Build a pioneering culture

Many of the discussions referenced the culture that is needed to support inherently pioneering activities and brave actions from the region’s marketers. Concepts such as failing-forward, where mistakes are accepted as long as lessons are learnt and shared were seen as invaluable in providing confidence and a safety net around those making key decisions. Many had a concern that the culture and ways of working were not geared up to support digital and there is an acceptance that to succeed in this space requires a culture shift as well as improvements in organisational capability.

The over-riding takeout from the discussions was a real sense of urgency and a desire to take on the challenges. The size of the customer base, the pace of growth,  the breadth of cultures and the array of platforms provides unique challenges but also a compelling need to pioneer in this space.


For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s digital capabilities, please get in touch. You may also like these short films and blogs on Marketing in the Digital Age.

Join the conversation @brandlearning and on LinkedIn.