Thought leaders from DBS bank, Knight Frank and IPOS joined successful entrepreneurs from Benjamin Barker, Design Studio, Vault Dragon and Tradably to share new strategies that business leaders are relying on for quality and sustainable growth at our Welcome 2018 seminar on 2 February.
Internationalisation: Go Big or Go Home
Tay Woon Teck, Managing Director of RSM’s Risk Advisory division and moderator for the first panel drew attention to the fact that a global business was no longer confined to having a physical presence in foreign locations. Technology enables international businesses to exist virtually. This is exemplified by Alibaba Group, whose Single’s Day generated over US$25 billion in online sales across numerous countries.
This view of internationalisation is also shared by IPOS International. Executive Director Dexter Teo shared how IPOS has helped local businesses successfully preserve the value of their intellectual assets as they go global and explained IPOS’ future operating model where the agency serves not only to register patents, but to also help businesses actualize the commercialisation potential of their intellectual property.
The concept of digitalisation was also echoed by DBS’s Head of Data Science, Johnson Poh, who revealed that DBS’s offerings in India were largely virtual based and that this strategy has expanded the India customer base successfully.
Benjamin Barker’s COO, Damien Tan, also seconded the need to internationalise by using a digital platform. He highlighted that digitalisation is not solely about raising the top line but helps to improve customer retention. An online presence allows retailers to track customer profiles and buying patterns, creating an avenue to apply business intelligence.
Eugene Yapp, GM of Strategy at Design Studio, also expounded on the need for well-tested and reliable methods that add value to regional ventures and investments with strategic partners.
To sum up, the panel unanimously agreed that technology will help Singapore businesses plant and maintain a global footprint.
Innovate – igniting the flame from start-ups to giants
To emphasize how innovative exploits by established players have propelled them ahead of the competition, Bidyut Dumra, Executive Director of DBS Innovation Group, stressed its importance in traditional industries such as banking. Aimed at putting the “fun back in banking”, DBS developed innovation strategies by working in collaboration with internal stakeholder teams and external parties to understand the needs and wants of the future users of banking services and products.
However, innovation as a concept cannot stand alone, as DBS Head of Data Science Johnson Poh elaborated. He explained that data is one of the single largest intangible assets. The bank was able to use the data collected to validate assumptions, define the value that the bank wanted to create for customers, and materialise insights into new products and services.
Other insights into innovation were also shared by entrepreneurs from Vault Dragon and Tradably. “Start-ups must be fearless to create value to customers within their business markets”, remarked Nigel Teo, CEO and Co-founder of Tradably. Start-ups need to recognise that the fundamental ‘why’ of their existence has to do with the creation of products or services that address customer ignorance or discontentment. For instance, companies such as Amazon, Uber and Grab address the customer discontentment quotient by disrupting the industry and putting control back into the hands of consumers.
Alice Tan, Head of Consultancy and Research at Knight Frank, commented that innovation also has to take place in a traditional segment such as property and real estate. Traditional real estate players are still seemingly slower when it comes to adoption of innovation. Despite this, innovative thinking in this sector is still very much alive, with over 30 Proptech companies established in Singapore that focuses on using technology and analytics to create more value for the real estate segment.
Ching-Tse Tseng, CEO of Vault Dragon, added that while innovation is often accidental as is the case with many of the successful entrepreneurial stories, creating an environment fully accepting of disruptive technologies is a ‘must have’ for economic success in the long-run.
The constant threat of being outpaced by new technologies was highlighted by Rudy Lim, Head of Fintech (Singapore) Innovation Group, DBS Bank, who also remarked that harmonisation between the bank and Fintech companies play a critical role in DBS’s growth. To that end, DBS Fintech Innovation Group identifies emerging Fintech firms and funds their growth as well as collaborates with them through the sharing of technologies.
RSM’s Risk Advisory Partner, Dennis Lee, concluded the discussion by noting that a collaborative eco-system will pay off in the long run. Businesses that collaborate are more likely to enjoy success than those who outright spend resources competing. A dogged attitude towards pursuing innovation and successful commercialisation of innovative projects are integral towards success.