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. - 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, 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

“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

Filipino Technology 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.