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Groundbreaking technology trends in Asia

  

Groundbreaking technology trends in Asia

Over the past few decades, Asia has undergone a colossal economic and technological growth.

Thanks to its middle class growing in prominence, technology adoption and information consumption has exponential grown within the last decades. What used to be a technological market that mirrored the West, Asian tech companies are fast becoming the leading players at the cutting edge of technology in the world.
Over 552 million consuming household living in urbanised areas - chiefly based in China, India and Indonesia, according to a 2015 McKinsey report for the Singapore Summit. This situation has fueled the rise of “disruptors” championed by tech companies across Asia, such as Alibaba, Tencent, Flipkart and Grab (photo), now well over $10 billion valuation. These tech companies are labelled as “disruptors” for operating within the realm of disruptive technologies and generating innovations that are drastically changing the rules of business and redefining the market.
According to Edward Tse - author of “China's Disruptors” and leading global strategy consultant who has spent over two decades working with senior Chinese executives - the market has changed rapidly as homegrown companies lead by innovative, competitive entrepreneurs have taken the place of more cumbersome government-linked organisations.
This has resulted in a new generation of Asian tech companies that rival those from the US and Europe. Here are some of the innovative technology trends across the region:
Online shopping and virtual payment
Internet has changed the we shop. With the technological revolution and a growing number of people buying their products online, companies operating in the retail industry has have to adapt to these changes. This change has become more dramatic with the smartphone as people can virtually buy anything from anywhere and anytime. That plus the fact that a growing number of people have internet access and a mobile device, the landscape has changed considerably within the last decades.
Alibaba - Asian's biggest player in the industry - understood the opportunities of online shopping and made the most of it in 2014 when it had an initial public offering worth US$21.8 billion. Founded by Jack Ma, the company started as a business-to-business (B2B) online marketplace and then launched Taobao as its consumer-to-consumer (C2C) arm, which made it a competitor up against one giant in the industry - eBay.
Since Alibaba knew the market, it didn't follow in the steps of eBay as it suspected that the low popularity of credit cards and the charging of transaction fees wouldn't be appealing to Chinese customers. Therefore, they came up with an easy-to-use free online payment system for Taobao, which drove its market share to 70% in 2006, and then there was no competition, the game was won.
The payment method they devised - known as Alipay - now dominates 50% of China's online payment and it has prompted other companies throughout the region to mirror this scheme. Ever since, Alibaba has widened its horizons and is expanding its dominance globally.
“The success of these endeavours resulted from their willingness to understand and adapt to previous e-commerce models to the local setting.”
Automated Stores
Although we have seen that online shopping is on the rise, there's still a market for physical stores. With technological changes, on the rise, however, physical stores has had to adapt. JD.com - a Beijing-based company - has devised automated stores where you walk into a shop with no cashiers and no retailers, only aisles of products. Then you walk up to an item, scan its QR code and automatically proceed to make a purchase. Founded by Liu Qiangdong, JD.com has taken it a step further and aims to create a fleet of automated drones to deliver your parcels.
App for Everything
Tencent's WeChat, a messaging app that has revolutionised the industry in China and has massad 980 million active users so far. This powerful app is a combination of WhatsApp with some features of Facebook, Instagram, Google, Spotify and even Uber. This all-powerful app allows you to share images and music with friends, make bookings for restaurants or spas, and even make online payments.
Ride Sharing
Just like Uber in the West, ride-sharing companies have revolutionised public transportation in Asia. Particularly Grab, which is a major player in Southeast Asia. This app dates back to 2011 when Anthony Tan pitched a taxi-booking app at the Harvard Business Plan Competition. The popular app allows users to hire rides from licensed partners, instead of flagging down a taxi. It became an effective way to combat peak-hour shortages of public transportation.

Tech Replaces Workers in the Philippines

  

Tech Replaces Workers in the Philippines

As the tech revolution meets its climax in the Philippines, traditional jobs such as call center employees are being replaced by robots. Companies might be able to cut costs by downscaling their call center operations in favor of artificial intelligence, but customers value having a real human on the other end of the line, which fosters loyalty to a company, which makes the business more profitable in the long run. If you seeking help with your bank account or mortgage, and you call the help line of a company, how would you feel if you reach an answering machine rather than an actual human being?

The companies trend to downscale their human resources in the call center is mainly affected the Philippines, the call center capital of the world. Although you might consider India to hold this position, over the last decades American companies have opted to have their call centers in the Philippines due to lower labor costs and that they speak American English, rather than English with a strong Indian accent.
The Philippines might be over 10 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the U.S. but that doesn't stop the call centers employees from answering their phones calmly and nicely, as they work through the night.
Call center workers in the Philippines account for just 3 percent of the country's employed population, which is a low figure that has to do with the job requiring a high level of English. With salaries averaging $400 a month, call center workers earn more than service industry workers, which is around $285. Apparently, Filipinos stop studying because they know they can make more money in call centers if their English level is good.
Unfortunately, as automation technology advances - automating low-skilled tasks such as data entry - call center workers in the Philippines could lose their jobs. The revolution has already started and many companies are encouraging their customers to use chatbots, which are computer programs that use artificial intelligence to address basic customer service questions. For instance, Facebook messenger already hosts 30,000 chatbots from various companies that you can use to pay for meals or shop online.
Lately, the programs have become more sophisticated. For instance, the British company Celaton offers a technology system named inStream that refers certain tasks to human operators and remembers their responses. As video posted on the website narrates: “With each transaction, inStream is continuously learning, reducing the need for human intervention in the future.”
Automation might be good for business but it sure isn't for those that manage and represent call centers. Benedict Hernandez, the chairman and president of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines, which represents nearly 100 companies that employ contact center workers, has said the industry is struggling with these technological advances and needs to re-invent itself in order to survive.
Referring a study from the consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, Hernandez said low-skilled jobs in the outsourcing industry would decline by 28 percent within the next six years. According to Hernandez, however, most businesses in the Philippines have evolved past low-skilled tasks. “This is not a challenge but an opportunity for the Philippines to handle more interesting, more complicated tasks and come out a winner,” he said.
To meet these challenges or opportunities, however, the Philippines will need better-educated workers with excellent language skills. To that end, the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, vouched to invest in education to meet employers' needs. However, later on he cut the country's labor and employment budget to focus on the police and security services as the government is currently engaged in a war on drugs.
It's not a good time for complacency for call center workers. According to a research by an American firm, Forrester, automation will replace 6 percent of U.S. jobs in the following years. The report also predicts that the first jobs to go will be the customer service positions.
Craig Raines, COO of Sitel, one of the business process outsourcing (BPO) pioneers in the Philippines, said: “The question shouldn't be: is voice dead? The question has to be, how do you build a solution that drives the customer experience, that gets their issues resolved, process their transactions and doesn't leave you.”
Raines advised call center workers to upgrade their skills so they are able to work in tandem with artificial intelligence solutions, given that more consumers seek alternative communication methods like chat and email.

 

Entrepreneurs doing biz in the Philippines

  

Entrepreneurs doing biz in the Philippines

Companies developing tech-based solutions for consumers in emerging markets sea the Philippines as a land of opportunities and a testing ground for products and services with potential for global scale. The Filipino economy has grown exponentially in the last decades and market is a cross between the Western world and Southeast Asia.

Thanks to the economic growth, Filipinos middle class have access to technology. That and investment have helped made the country attractive to foreign investors. A recent market study showed that Filipinos have some of the world's highest levels of online brand engagement, growth in internet penetration, social media account usage, and other indicators of digital uptake. These trends make the Philippines a promising market for tech companies of all types.
As the country's tech and startup ecosystems are growing, the number of entrepreneurs are also increasing exponentially. How could anyone resist if the Philippines have become a breeding ground for start-ups that succeed fast and reach the billion mark within a year. That's every entrepreneur's dream: the promise of growth. Most entrepreneurs have succeeded in the Philippines in the past decade.
Although most entrepreneurs have succeeded and the Philippines is in fact a great place to start a business, that doesn't mean that it is easy. Before you venture into starting your business there, you should prepare yourself and once you start, you must keep going because businesses require all of your energy, otherwise they won't succeed.
An entrepreneur's success does not only depend on hard work and luck, but also on an entrepreneur's vision for the company and the choices he/she makes. Here are some lessons you can learn from successful entrepreneurs doing business in the Philippines.
“I don't believe in luck. Believing in luck also means believing in bad luck, which often leads to excuses.” - Nix Nolledo of Xurpas.
“No matter how experienced or otherwise, always seek out other entrepreneurs and pick their brains extensively. I've never not learnt something from taking up opportunities to speak to guys who have been there, done it, bought the T-shirt and lived to tell the tale!” - Bruno Araujo of iMoney.
“Don't be afraid to have a target on your back. It means you are walking in front.” - Farouk Meralli of mClinica.
“Have nerves of steel, a heart of gold, and the grit to never stop until you get that one yes after 99 nos.” - Chow Paredes of Zipmathc.
“Logically speaking, this should be the mindset of your startup. Make your sales first, proposals second, fulfillment third, collateral fourth, and business cards last.” - Clayton Wood of TrueLogic Online Solutions.
“The only reason why I have successful businesses is because I had more failures. The vast majority of people are not Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Almost everyone is always wired to make mistakes. I see failure as a fine tuning of your entrepreneurial journey. The next attempt is always much better. You must view failure as a friend or teacher.” Jojy Azurin of Freelancer.com
“Understand the difference between a shortcut versus the right path. It's crucial for everyone to realize at the onset of any project or venture that although shortcuts seem to be a quick win, nine out of 10 scenarios will have repercussions in the long run.” - Ralph Santos of VMoney.
“No amount of education, talent, intelligence can guarantee your success. Many of the educated are in disarray, many of the talented are ignored, and many of the geniuses are disparaged. Passion, determination, and perseverance will warrant your success.” - Aisa Mijeno of SALt.
“Be honest. People respond to genuine people. When you say what's really happening, people will help and support you. Also remember: the startup community is really small. News travels fast.” - Valenice Balace of Peekawoo.
“You have to know your own strengths and weaknesses. It may seem obvious, but in explicitly identifying your capabilities, you open yourself up to new learnings and partnerships that will help you in your goals.” - John Bailon of Satoshi Citadel Industries.

 

Filipino Technology Inventions

  

tTechnology Inventions

Although the Philippines may be a small country, it can outshine any of its Southeast Asian counterparts in a heartbeat when it comes to technological innovations. Here are some inventions and inventors that will prove why this time is the Philippines and not Japan the country that is pioneering the technological revolution.

You've probably head of Bill Gates, but have you heard of Diosdado “Dado” Banatao? Given his contribution in computer industry, he might as well be just as famous. Diosdado Banatao is a Filipino engineer, entrepreneur and billionaire working in Silicon valley. Co-founder of Mostron, Chips & Technologies and S3 Graphics, he is now managing partner of Tallwood Venture Capital, which invests in semiconductor technology, computing, communication and consumer platforms. He is credited with designing the first single chip, 16 bit microprocessor based calculator. He also pioneered Graphics User interface accelerator and contributed to design 0 Mbit Ethernet CMOS.
Did you know that the inventor of the One Chip Video Camera is also Filipino? That's right, Marc Loinaz created this small piece of technology that can be integrated into everything from wristwatches to cars. For his inventions, he has received numerous awards, including Award for Technological Innovation from Discover Magazine and Distinguished Technical Staff Award from Bell Labs.
Another Filipino, Roberto del Rosario, invented the Karaoke. That one probably sounds familiar. As a musician, he also invented OMB piano, the Piano Turner Guide, the Piano Keyboard stressing device, among others. Rodolfo Biescas invented the multi-cooler fan - a fan and cooler all rolled into one - which is a simple invention but very useful in hot weather and it is perfect for the budget-conscious. It is so cheap that it has been dubbed as the “air-con for the poor.”
After witnessing the unfortunate fate of several Typhoon Ondoy victims, David Briones invested Rescue 72, which is a life vest and survival kit all rolled into one. In the event of a disaster, Rescue 72 will keep you safe until you can be rescued from a disaster, which typically takes 72 hours. The invention is equipped with compartments where you can put waterproof bags containing first aid kits, water, light snacks, and other items essential for survival.
Plastic-to-Diesel Converter was invented by Jayme Navarro of Bacolod who found a clever way to convert plastic bags into fuel. The process starts with the melting of the plastics and then the taking out of the polymers to mix with a catalyst. Pyrolysis will occur soon after to produce hydrocarbon gases. After a series of processes of purification, the resulting mix will be compressed and store. Up to 400 liters of diesel can be produced with 5,000 kilos of plastic bags. The fuel is lower in sulfur and environmentally friendly. This is also great news for Planet Earth.
Challenge 21 is an award-winning game designed by Leonardo Mejia yu of Malate, Metro Manila. The invention is a strategy game that combines the difficulties of scrabble, bingo, tictactoe, checkers and even basketball.
Eduardo Vazquez was awarded with the Investor of the Year award from the World Intellectual Property Organization for his contribution as the inventor of pre-fabricated housing system, Vazbuilt technology. To make his invention closer to the public, he opened his own construction firm, Vazbuilt, with the slogan: “building solutions for today and tomorrow.”
Vazbuilt housing system presents solutions to owners because the houses can be built faster and can be easily dismantled in cases of relocation or expansion. This is possible thanks to the company's pre-fabricated wall panels, columns, fences, and tie beams.
Feliz Maramba, also Filipino, was the one who invented the power generator fueled by coconut oil and the technology that can turn charcoal into gas.
You've probably heard of the penicillin - that antibiotic that was the greatest solution for infection - but what do you think people take when they are allergic to penicillin. That's Erythromycin and that antibiotic was invented by Abelardo Aguilar, a Filipino scientist and physician. The antibiotic can also be used to treat skin and respiratory infections. The US patent of the drug was granted to Lilly in 1953. Then the drug was released under the brand name Ilosone, and it earned its manufacturer - Eli Lilly Co - billions of dollars.
Despite his antibiotic's success, Aguilar did not get much credit fro his invention until lately. Over decades, he fought to get 50 million dollars of royalty from Eli Lilly company to support rural healthcare in the Philippines but failed miserably. Even after his death in 1993, his family continued to fight to get intellectual credit for his breakthrough in the medical industry.

 

Philippines leading on social media

  

social media

The Philippines ranked as “the most social nation” or the country with the most active population on social media, according to the latest State of the Mobile Web report released by Opera Software. Mobile Internet users in the Philippines have a tendency to visit social-networking sites more than any other. In fact, 86 percent of the page views from Opera Mini mobile browser users in the Philippines are to social-networking sites, which represents the highest percentage among Opera Mini's top-50 user countries on a global scale.

Social networking is one of the country's most active web-based activities. Filipinos are the most active users on a number of web-based social network sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter on a global scale. Tagged as “The Social Networking Capital of the World,” the Philippines have adopted an extensive cyberculture. With over 7.9 million Filipinos using the Internet, 6.9 million of them visit a social networking site at least once a month. David Jones, vice president for global marketing of Friendster - one of the most visited websites in the Philippines - said that “the biggest percentage of (their site's) user is from the Philippines, clocking in with 39 percent of the site's traffic.”
A study released by Universal McCann entitled “Power to the People - Wave3” declared the Philippines as “the social networking capital of the world,” with 83 percent of Filipinos surveyed are members of social network. They are also represent the largest photo uploaders and web video viewers, ranking second in terms of the number of blog readers and video uploaders.
According to the closely followed internet trends report released by social media management platform Hootsuite and United Kingdom- based consultancy We Are Social Ltd. the Filipinos spend an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes per day on social media sites such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter. The data is based on active monthly users data from social media companies.
The Philippines's social media usage, however, stands in stark contrast to its internet speed. The country's fixed broadband speed is among the slowest in Asia Pacific while mobile connections are among the fastest, which explains why smartphones‘ usage in the Philippines has increased exponentially.
Within a year, the Opera Mini user base in the Philippines increased by 41 percent, and is how the eight-largest in the world and second-largest in Southeast Asia. Its smartphone user base also increased by an unprecedented 90 percent.
The study shows the key trends revolutionizing the mobile web in the country:
It is undeniable that the mobile web usage is growing in the Philippines, with an increase of the number of page views to 62 percent. Browsing 638 webpages on average per month, the Opera Mini user in the Philippines browses more than the average, which is 615 pages.
With an 86 percent of page views by Opera Mini users in the Philippines, mobile internet users in the country have the highest social-media activity in the world. This also represents the highest percentage among the top-50 Opera Mini user countries. Which social network do they visit more? Facebook clearly dominates, while Twitter, Wordpress, tumblr, Pinterest, and Flirchi rank among the 20 most visited sites.
Most Filipinos have either a smartphone or a local phone brand. Indeed, more than half of Filipinos who browse with Opera Mini users do so on smartphones. The smartphone adoption rate has grown year on year in the Philippines. Meanwhile, local smartphone brands are increasing their market share. In fact, Cherry Mobile has overtaken Samsung, with a 27 percent market share, and another local brand, MyPhone, has 8 percent. These two local smartphone brands' total market share put together is 35 percent, higher than Nokia's 31 percent.
“The prevalence of the smartphone is driving internet usage in the Philippines,” said Eiko H. Raquel, Country Manager for the Philippines at Opera Software. “Filipinos love to share things with friends and families. This country used to be the text-messaging capital of the world. Now, with easier internet access and higher smartphone adoption, the Philippines has not only been crowned the ‘selfie capital of the world' by Time magazine, but also has now been ranked as the most social nation” by Opera."
Founded back in 1996 and with over 350 million customers, Opera provides faster and more innovative web browsers. Originally from Norway, Opera Software AS is a privately held company.

 

Best Apps to explore Asia

  

Best Mobile Apps to explore Asia

Why get a travel guide when you can get an app that does everything for you? Some apps give you the information right away, they help you book a room, a tour or a trip with a few taps on your phone and they have up-to-date information. Mobile apps are revolutionizing the world of travel today: they are handy, easily accessible and provide every kind of information you need while you travel. Here are some mobile apps to travel around Asia:
Findery is a mobile app that allows you to share your experiences while exploring the world. A cross between geocaching and social networks, you can leave “digital notes” about a place and explore other travelers' memories as well. Findery is an interactive travel journal that allows you to add your videos, photos and music clips when you share a “digital note” or memory.
Combine this app with eOasia tours to access memos of all the places your guide takes you to and other travelers can read your suggestions. Open the in-built map to check out notes of nearby areas that travelers have left behind. This app is not only available in English, but also in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Use Hopper app to get the best fares on air tickets. Designed mainly for iPhones, Hopper advises you when the best time to book air tickets. Unfortunately, the app only shows you when you should buy the ticket but you can't purchase it straight from the app.
Having Triplt mobile app is like having a personal assistant while you travel. From your travel confirmations, itineraries, tickets, car rental and hotel bookings, this app stores and manages all of your bookings. This saves you the trouble of going through your emails to check your bookings and what's more, you can even access them online, which can be incredibly useful when you are traveling and Internet access is limited.
You can even sync this app to your Google calendar, and allow it to send travel confirmations to Triplt for alerts. That will allow you to check flight number, hotel address, or confirmation number on the go. This is perfect for when you are backpacking around Asia as it allows you to find all your bookings in one place and keep track of your tours.
Travel Pocket is like having a personal accountant when you travel. This is a great expense tracker when you are traveling and it even has a currency converter. This gives you control over what you are spending and what you are spending your money on while you travel. It also gives you a summary at the end of your trip so you can see how much money you spent and what was most expensive during your trip. You can even export this into a spreadsheet.
The Converted is an app used for conversion of measurement and is useful for Asian travelers as various countries use different units. With over 200 units, 165 currencies and 52 other units including weight, temperature and speed, this app makes traveling in Asia that much more convenient.
Rome2Rio helps you plan your route by showing you different ways to get to your destination. This app is particularly helpful when you travel in Asia to save you from getting scammed. The app will help you take the local transportation, including buses, ferry and trains, and it also allows you to book a flight.
Open Signal is the network solution when you travel. It shows you Wi-Fi networks, measures signal strength and phone signals. It even shows you the area coverage and speed of local cellular carriers on a map. The app also helps you choose a local SIM card and allows you to keep track of your monthly data usage.
It's not that easy to get your bearings when you land in a new country, particularly if it's a big city. City Maps 2 Go is the ultimate travel guide and map as you can access it offline. Beforehand, you have to save places you want to visit, pin places such as your hotel, and you can access it offline. It saves you data usage or it is particularly convenient when you have no Internet at all.

 

Philippines: next tech tiger

  

tech tiger

Although the Philippines has one of the fastest-growing economies in Southeast Asia, it is not clear it will become the next tech tiger since it also has the slowest internet in the region. Whether it is slow internet connection can hinder its tech revolution or not, some people are certain that the country posses an opportunity to turn it into Asia's next tech tiger.

With a fast-growing middle class who can afford technology, a large English-speaking population, a society that is addicted to social media, and low labor and operating costs, the Philippines apparently has all the ingredients of an emerging tech tiger.
There's an opportunity for growth as the population is ready for a tech revolution: they have money to spend and they love being online but the slow internet connection frustrates them. If internet speed is already atrocious, coverage is no consolation: stepping out of the city means traveling decades back in time.
A recently arrived tech entrepreneur Peter Fabian said to the BBC that the Philippines looks like “the end of the world” to any seasoned Silicon Valley investor. The reason why Philippines has been left behind in the region is because entrepreneurs looking for the next tech hub overlooked the country and invested in other Asian tigers, such as Singapore and Thailand.
Despite being late in the Southeast Asian boom, there's still hope for the country. Mr Fabian, for instance, said: "We see the Philippines as a good testing market." That is why he chose Philippines for his start-up after researching emerging markets across the globe. He did this in spite of his business being dependent on technology, as it aims to use big data to build a credit card company aimed at the middle class who are not customers of traditional banks.
The reason behind this bold move is that Mr Fabian saw the country as a land of opportunities since there is not much competition with only a few experienced tech entrepreneurs around. Mr Fabian also saw the opportunities the Philippines has being a former US colony. The country already has a large English-speaking population which echoes some similar cultural values and the country shares many US institutions, making it more familiar and easy to navigate.
"The attitude towards foreigners is very welcoming, which cannot be said of a lot of people in Asia," said Mr Fabian. Although the Philippine start-up scene is limited, there are some initiatives in this direction. For instance, some businesses adapting Western products to the local market, including fast fashion ecommerce, daily deals sites or taxi service apps.
Meanwhile, others, like Ron Hose who is a Silicon Valley-bred entrepreneur and investor based in Manila are investing instead in looking for solutions to local issues. Therefore, they are coming up with new products that are particularly designed and built for the local market.
"There are a second set of problems that are unique to emerging markets that companies and entrepreneurs in developing countries are not really building products for," he said.
"An entrepreneur sitting in an office in Silicon Valley," Mr Hose said, "is not thinking about the problems of a Filipino who is sitting in a Jeepney (local taxi) for an hour and a half a day to go to work, or whose home gets flooded 10 times a year during typhoons."
His company, Coins.ph, offers financial services to people who have no bank account. According to Mr Hose, it may be true that each country is unique, but there are vital common problems that are similar across emerging markets, like being unbanked - which he already addressed - or having no access to education.
"If you solve one of these needs, then the market is larger than any one of these countries. If you can solve banking for people in the Philippines, you can solve it for 500 million people in South East Asia," he said.
Richard Eldridge is another Manila-based tech entrepreneur who co-founded Lenddo, an online loan company that provides consumers access to financial services and helps them use their social media activity to develop creditworthiness. Based in The Philippines since 2001, MR Edridge has seen the impact of the economic boom on the Philippines.
While running an outsourcing company, he noticed that many of his employees - who are part of the middle class he is targeting - kept soliciting loans from him. "It fascinated me that they were coming to me and not going to a bank and getting loans," said Mr Eldridge. That's the story of why he left the multinational in 2011 to start his own company Lenddo with New York-based chief executive Jeff Stewart. Although the Philippines remains Lenddo's home base and largest market, the company has expanded to other countries such as Mexico and Colombia. Given the success and growth of the company, it is now looking at 30 other emerging countries for expansion.

 

China Tech Domination in SE Asia

  

didi

A Chinese billionaire surprised the audience of a pitch from a startup in Singapore when he wrote “Speed x Market Share” on a white board. This formula means that to succeed to you in a market, you need to be the first and the largest, no matter what the cost. This simple formula is now revolutionizing the Southeast Asian tech scene as China takes it over.

“It was the moment that I understood the Chinese strategy,” said Isaac Ho, the founder of Venturecraft Group, who's known in local medtech circles for whiskey-fueled networking parties. “If you are not the number one, you will become obsolete; if you are the number one, you can buy the newer technology. It's a winner-takes-it-all game.''
This is the story of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Didi Chuxing. The three corporations expanded to new territories at an unprecedented speed on an immense scale. They did this by following that simple formula laid out by the Chinese billionaire. After such expansion and investment, the first two are now listed amongst the 10 largest corporations in the world.
After those companies have conquered their home markets, which are now saturated, the country's tech overlords are looking to expand to the rest of the planet. The first obvious choice is Southeast Asia, which is a market where they can export that technology and grow quickly as the population in the region is twice the population of the U.S. and is home to the largest Chinese expats in the world; therefore, language and tradition will facilitate this expansion.
Over the course of 2016, Chinese investment in technology off shore more than doubled to $37.8 billion, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. Out of those, giant Alibaba paid $1 billion in 2016 for control of Singapore-based e-commerce player Lazada Group SA. Meanwhile, WeChat-operator Tencent - a backer of Sea Ltd., Southeast Asia's most valuable startup - invested around $100 million to $150 million in Indonesian ride-sharing giant Go-Jek. Even Asia's most valuable startup Didi has declared it intends to go global.
“What you are seeing is a change in mindset,” said Thomas Tsao, founding partner of early stage investor Gobi Partners. “They're starting to aspire, not just to be the biggest Chinese company, but they are thinking globally.”
China has paved the way to take over the regional economy for decades. Chinese investors have are transforming the region by pouring billions into everything from transport to real estate. According to an estimate by Credit Suisse Group AG, China nearly doubled foreign direct investment into the six biggest Southeast Asian nations in 2016.
Although little of that investment went to the tech sector, which is in its infancy compared to the Chinese tech sector, the country's tech giants are shifting their gaze to the region. China's tech domination of the region will be facilitated by Southeast Asia's deepening mobile penetration and an emergent middle class. The region is an asset for these tech investors as the tech sector is in its infancy, it's home to a large market and also hosts the largest ethnic Chinese population on the planet.
According to the International Monetary Fund, growth in the Asean-5 of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam is projected to exceed annually through 2022, outstripping North Asia's 3 percent on average.
No single player is dominant in the Southeast Asia's tech sector, which means the territory is still up for grabs, unlike China where just a few control the major spheres of search (Baidu Inc.), e-commerce (Alibaba), social media (Tencent) and ride-sharing (Didi). This means that Southeast Asia is an opportunity for new companies that can't compete in the saturated market of China or for the key players which can't expand any longer in the Chinese market. As China starts its way to dominate the tech sector of Southeast Asia, we are yet to see how it will all play out and which are the key players that will dominate the region.
Israeli tech pioneer Yossi Vardi says Alibaba's eagerness to expand quickly outside China reminds him of the U.S. in the 60s and 70s when American companies shifted their gaze outside of the American territory, looked outward for growth and that's the story of how they became multinationals. “This is very, very substantial and it's just a beginning,” he said.
“The opportunity in Asia is just unparalleled,” said Grace Xia, Tencent's senior director of corporate strategy and investment. “Southeast Asia is emerging at an accelerated pace, with a lot of similarities with China in terms of user behavior.''

 

Business Advice for Entrepreneurs in Asia

  

entrepreneurs

Here are some condensed pieces of wisdom for and by entrepreneurs in Asia.

“A lot of people complain about yesterday. We have no power to change yesterday. But this very day, 30 years later, is what we can control and decide. Change yourself, take baby steps, and stay determined for ten years. I thank the times of change and everyone's complaints. Because when everyone is complaining, that is your change, an opportunity. It's only in times of chang that someone can be clear of what he has and wants, and what he needs to give up. ” - Jack Ma, in his last speech as CEO of Alibaba.
Mark Chang gave a great piece of advice to once-budding Malaysian entrepreneur, Khai Yin, who then went on and founded GoodPlace.my: “I know only of the ‘kerbau' (buffalo) way, that is, to work hard and wait for the rain.”
If there's an entrepreneur that can talk about being resilient, then that is Firdhaus Akber who founded Streetdirectory and then he was ousted from the company and had to fight a lawsuit. “Entrepreneurs need to understand that they may not be successful on the first time. Most aren't. One needs to learn to pick themselves up and try again when they fail. What I learned from my Hong Kong investors was their nonchalant attitude towards failure. Why be so concerned about failure? If you fall down, pick yourself up and try again. Just keep trying, there's no one who will fail forever.”
What you can learn from Patrick Linden is the value of listening to the right advice: “It is important for entrepreneurs to stay firm to what they believe in. And if you need advice, go to the right people who have been there and done that rather than those who don't fully grasp the reality of entrepreneurship.”
And once you are at the top, you should follow Gou's advice and keep going, keep working hard and never easy up: “I never think I am successful. If I am successful, then I should be retired. If I am not retired, then that means I should still be working hard, keeping the company running.”
You also need to focus on what you think matters most to you and what you love, what you are passionate about, like Le Hong Minh advises you to: “You need to love your work, and work hard at it. to do that, you must pay attention to your priorities at the moment Constantly ask yourself, ‘what is the most important thing to you right now?'”
Even when you do what you love, don't forget that the purpose of a business is to make money. If what you do doesn't make money, then it is a hobby. That is what Sachin and Binny Bansal from Flipkart advise you to: “Perseverance and hard work are very important. The core of any business is to earn money. You have not done your job well until you find a stranger who is willing to open his/her wallet to give you money for the services/products that you are offering.”
Manuel V. Pangilinan from PLDT agrees with most entrepreneurs, particularly Steve Jobs, that the key to success is hard - and also honest - work. “The abiding lesson is that enduring long-term wealth, especially for self-made people, really comes from doing the right thing - no shortcuts, no corruption - and earning it the right way.”
Masayoshi Son, from Softbank, advises entrepreneurs to always think of the future. This is a great piece of advice and source of motivation because if you always think of the future, you are always going to work hard to make that prospect a better one. “Do not limit yourself to thinking in the present. Think above and beyond. Do not be bound by this age; aim to create a new age that will delight people throughout the world.”
Yoshikazy Tanaka, GREE, is also known as the Mark Zuckerberg of Japan. He says that the hardest part of it all is getting started. Once you've started your business, you've already overcome the hardest struggle: “I think the number one advice I can give is - you just have to start it. Just get your feet in the water and do it. I learned a lot from just trying it out.”

 

Philippines Railway Projects

  

mrt train

The Government of Philippines' cabinet-level agency National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board's Investment Coordination Committee (ICC) has approved Mindanao Railway Project's (MRP) Tagum-Davao-Digos (MRP-TDD) segment and two Department of Transportation (DOTr) rail projects. With this purpose, the board's ICC has advised DOTr to coordinate with the NEDA Secretariat to accomplish its approval requisites.

When Mindanao Railway Project is completed, it is expected to provide an efficient and reliable transportation, benefitting tourism, industry and overall economic development in the Davao Region area.
This project is the first part of the proposed 830km MRP loop, which includes a 102.28km commuter railway that will operate from Tagum City to Davao City. The project will locally financed and is expected to cost PHP35.26bn ($710m). The railway is expected to be finished by the third quarter of 2022.
ICC has also approved the North South Railway Projects (NSRP), which is a proposed railway line between Metro Manila, the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines and Legaspi City, the capital of Albay province, in the Philippines.
The project is part of the Government of Philippines' (GOP) aim to encourage economic and urban growth in the most populous regions of the Islands by providing essential connectivity through a world-class passenger rail service.
"MRP-TDD is expected to provide an efficient and reliable transportation upon completion, which would facilitate tourism, industry and overall economic development in the Davao Region area."
The Official Development Assistance (ODA) will finance the project, which will cost nearly PHP285bn ($5.75bn). The three tracks of he NSRP-South Line will run from Tutuban to Los Baños and from Los Baños to Sorsogon for the long haul (581km), and will terminate at Port of Manila.
The Malolos-Clark Railway Project (MCRP) will cost an estimate of PHP211.43bn ($4.27bn) and will connect with the ongoing Tutuban-Malolos portion of the North South Commuter Railway.
MCRP will operate from Malolos, Bulacan, to Clark International Airport (Phase I), and from Clark International Airport to Clark Green City (Phase II).
Although operations and maintenance will be conducted through a public-private partnership (PPP), ODA will also finance this project. Construction is set to start in the second quarter of 2019 and is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of 2022. Phase II is schedule to start as soon as Phase I is finished and it is set to be completed by 2024.
The NSRP is going to revitalize the oldest rail system in southeast Asia by delivering a 56km-long commuter rail and a 653km long-haul passenger rail services between Metro Manila and the under-served regions in South Luzon.
The project was launched by DOTC and the PMR in July 2015, which marks the start of the bidding process for the South Line, the Manila-Legazpi section. The winning bidder will design, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the project.
As soon as the line becomes operational in 2020, it will support ten daily trips, with seven train sets, passing through 66 stations. Each day, it will handle 316,000 passengers in the initial year of operation. The project will significantly alter transportation in the area as approximately 44,000 public and private vehicle users are expected to shift to the new railway service.
The NSRP is aimed at facilitating transportation and logistics services between the north and south, two rapidly-growing urban regions in Philippines. The project originates in Metro Manila, which is the country's largest city in terms of urban density, with a population of approximately 12m. Therefore, the railway will considerably alleviate traffic congestion in the city. Meanwhile, the Island of Luzon is the biggest and most popular island in the country, housing 48m residents.
After one study not finding the project feasible, another study was conducted and it found out that it was viable in a PPP format. This study was conducted on the southern section of the NCR to find out the viability of the commuter rail project when combined with the Mainline South of the NSRP.
The design and construction of the long-haul passenger rail line will include restoration and renovation of the existing track for safe use. It will also include upgrades for attaining a design speed of 75km/h and allowing a maximum permissible axle load of 15t.

 

  
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