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Technology can keep Asean ahead in the game: top execs

News   •   Aug 25, 2015 15:08 +08

High-tech manufacturing processes will help region keep its edge with consumer demand changing quickly

ASEAN can retain its competitive edge in the world by banking on its flexibility in manufacturing, with technology playing an instrumental role, say leaders of various key sectors across Asia.

This will be the case moving forward as consumer demand is changing quickly today, said VR Srivatsan, managing director of Asean at Autodesk, a multinational corporation in 3D design software.

"We are on the brink of the biggest change in how we design and make things since the Industrial Revolution," he noted.

Competitive advantage now lies with fast-moving companies, he observed, adding: "We're seeing Asean companies leverage rapid prototyping tools to bring customised products, market faster, and leapfrog traditional manufacturers."

Mr Srivatsan said accessibility to technology, increasing customer sophistication and the sharing economy will continue to change the game in unprecedented ways.

He cited the case of Vietnam, which is the third largest adopter of the company's cloud rendering product A360, after the United States and the UK.

"This puts it ahead of India, and even Australia, which typically leads cloud adoption in Asia-Pacific," he said.

Kimberly-Clark Asia-Pacific president Achal Agarwal similarly highlighted increasing expertise in e-commerce and other digital capabilities as Asean's current strengths.

The region's openness to technology has contributed to the ease of manufacturing in Asean's individual markets, he noted.

For it to be attractive collectively as an entity, however, more has to be done in the area of economic integration across the region, he said.

"It will be important to harmonise regulations and make the supply chain flexible between its markets and to other parts of Asia-Pacific," added Mr Agarwal.

Mr Srivatsan and Mr Agarwal will be among the speakers at the inaugural Asia Pacific CEO Congress (APCC) 2015, co-organised by Singapore Press Holdings' conference arm Sphere Conferences and The Business Times.

More than 250 CEOs of leading companies across Asia are expected at the event on Aug 18 and 19 at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore.

With the congress theme Leading Transformation, APCC aims to cover key areas including the overview of Asia-Pacific in the world, driving businesses forward with digital transformation, and the possibilities of SG100.

BT editor Alvin Tay said: "APCC 2015 will harness the intellect and influence of these leading CEOs and, through the high-level discussions, push towards achieving the shared goal of sustainable prosperity for the region.

By Ong Hui Qun

Published on the The Business Times Online on 29 July 2015