Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to interview Ms. Tan Yen Yen, President, Asia Pacific at Vodafone Business regarding Vodafone’s achievements for 2018, the company’s aims for 2019, and the trends that will shape the industry in the following year.
1) Can you sum up your company’s focus and achievements in 2018?
In the era of unprecedented change, our focus remains on delivering what our customers need so that they are better prepared for the future. To that end, our biggest highlight for 2018 would be the refresh of Vodafone’s enterprise division brand – now called Vodafone Business – which renews our commitment on putting customers and tangible business outcomes at the core of what we do.
In the past year, Vodafone expanded our connectivity in building over 1 million km of fibre network globally. As a result, we were able to augment our relationships with global brands and collectively work towards building a connected economy. Vodafone also recently announced a partnership with Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors to provide customers with fully-connected in-car infotainment and connected car services. Connectivity was a focus area for Vodafone in the past year and will continue to be in 2019.
We were also positioned in the ‘Leaders’ category in IDC’s 2018 Asia/Pacific Communication Service Provider MarketScape for the first time. Vodafone was the biggest mover in this year’s study in terms of its year-on-year growth on the index, largely owing to our refreshed focus on further growing the enterprise practice in the region with a distinguished focus on customer excellence.
2) What are your expectations on the regional economy in 2019?
Vodafone just launched the 2019 Global Trends Report, which identifies customer centricity, ethics and purpose, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) deployment as key business priorities for the next 12 months.
The speed and pace of change as a result of digital transformation is driving businesses to rethink business models to ensure they can continue to deliver on evolving customer demands. 2019 will also be the year that businesses gear up for 5G to improve operations and the customer experience.
The coming year marks an inflection point in the regional economy’s growth. We see 5G as the catalyst for the Internet of Things to flourish. Singapore and Hong Kong are leading the region in supporting the development of 5G, with other nations to follow suit shortly. Higher bandwidth, lower latency and its ability to support more connected devices will see 5G enabling innovative IoT services and applications to be deployed at scale. This will be a game changer for businesses across multiple industries, from manufacturing to automotive as it offers access to real-time data, enabling increased efficiency, improved visibility into performance and ultimately a better customer experience.
3) What business trends in Asia capture your interest for growth next year? What do you think is the key industry trend to watch?
Digital transformation has driven the agenda in many boardrooms this year, increasing the impetus for businesses to rethink business models and ensure they can deliver on customer expectations. In 2019, leaders will need to prioritise how they adapt to changing demands, as disruption continues to impact every facet of a business.
Vodafone gathered the following key insights from our 2019 Global Trends Report, a survey of over 1,700 businesses on what matters most in the year ahead:
- Technology-led disruption is putting people at the heart of the business
As technology rapidly disrupts realities, the human relationship becomes invaluable. Businesses need to take a people centric approach to get ahead of changing customer needs in a market that is being reshaped by technology at lightning speed.
- Commercial success is tied to purpose, ethics and trust
As organizations go toe-to-toe on price points and new offerings, businesses need to seek differentiation in new areas and manage perceptions of their organisations carefully. Trust is an important barometer of customer loyalty.
- A balance is being struck between human and machine
Leaders are recognising the need to create an environment that allows people to thrive, supported by automation and machines. Employees’ expectations of the future of work is changing and businesses must heed the tide to attract and retain the best talents
It is clear that people must remain at the heart of every business that seeks to thrive in the increasingly digital world. Customisation is the name of the new game and businesses must tailor services to individual needs of all stakeholders. Communications and mobility technologies will become the cornerstone of transforming the human experience and improving lives.
4) What potential opportunities do you see in the industry next year?
Business leaders are starting to recognise the value of automation. While three-quarters of total task hours are still driven by humans, the World Economic Forum expects the divide between man and machine to equalise by 2022.
To address this shift, businesses need to rethink their approach to implementing automation at the workplace. Machines should complement and enhance their human workforces’ comparative strengths, instead of simply driving cost savings from reducing the number of human workers.
There will be an opportunity for the region to accelerate digital transformation initiatives with automation technologies next year, but only if business leaders create supportive workplace environments to do so. Business leaders will be tasked to embrace and address employees’ expectations and fears of machines in the workforce.
In our recent Global Trends Barometer report for 2019, we found that businesses are optimistic about the opportunities AI can provide, but do not yet fully understand its implications. This has caused an AI divide to emerge in the workplace and business need to act quickly to champion a positive mindset towards change. In order to make the best of the opportunity, enterprises need to demonstrate to employees that AI represents an opportunity. Additionally, this must be supported by a strategy that puts people development and growth at the centre, deploying talents to more strategic tasks and finding a role for those displaced by automation.
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