How Open Innovation is Driving the Next Era of Growth for Singapore

How the government is fostering a deep tech ecosystem, designed to encourage open innovation.

Something surprising happened amidst the gloom and doom in the early months of the Covid-19 crisis — companies began to come together to collaborate on an unprecedented level, putting the ability to create value before profits.

To fully reap the rewards from innovation, companies need to prepare for the transformational challenge ahead. Successful innovation often requires operational and structural changes to how business is done. Such changes are difficult for any employee, team or even business unit to undertake. Smart companies, however, will seize this opportunity to rethink their innovation infrastructure.

To reinforce this effort, the Singapore government launched various initiatives to support technology-focused start-ups – one of these initiatives is SGInnovate, a private organization wholly owned by the Singapore government to develop a deep tech ecosystem in the country.

Recently, Jacqueline Alexis Thng, partner at Prophet, and Dr. Lim Jui, CEO of SGInnovate, held a webinar to discuss the importance of open innovation for businesses today and share their predictions on what the future holds. Here, we share some of those key insights:

How is SGInnovate working to create an ecosystem where innovation can thrive?

Dr. Lim Jui: SGInnovate is facilitating the building of a deep tech ecosystem in Singapore by adopting a triple-helix approach that consists of considerations of investment, community building and talent.

On the investment front, SGInnovate is currently Singapore’s only deep tech career and skills development platform and this platform allows us the opportunity to notice and invest in deep tech companies at their earliest formation. To date, we have about 80 portfolio companies and have catalyzed over $700 million of follow-on investments.

On the talent front, we support the development of entrepreneurial scientists by partnering with institutions to enhance beneficial collaboration at the earliest stage. We also hold regular events to help entrepreneurial scientists connect with companies to raise awareness of their new technologies and then take these ideas further.

We hope to build a community that connects every party, including not only deep tech scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, but also regulators, investors, vendors and manufacturers, helping them to push their innovation agenda.

Why is adopting an open innovation approach important?

Jacqueline Alexis Thng: Open innovation is a business model that incorporates traditional corporate capabilities with external talents and innovations. This business model challenges the traditional silo mentality where companies have conventionally upheld secrecy around R&D as a means to protect their assets. It not only allows for businesses to find new ways to solve pressing problems but through unlocking new relationships with partners with complementary skills, it also offers the potential for future collaboration.

“To fully reap the rewards from innovation, companies need to prepare for the transformational challenge ahead.”

Siemens, for instance, opened up its Additive Manufacturing Network to anyone needing help in medical device design. Similarly, Ford worked with the United Auto Workers, GE Healthcare and 3M to build ventilators. This recent burst of collaboration reminds us of the massive potential that open innovation brings, whether you’re in a crisis or not.

Dr. Lim Jui: These initiatives are often the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to innovation, the challenge faced by many companies in recent years has been the lack of knowledge, skills and best practice. Organizations such as SGInnovate thus help to foster these networks of collaboration through open innovation, building a community that involves an active free flow of ideas and best practices.

We encourage established companies to do what we call ‘reverse pitching’. While normally it is entrepreneurs who pitch to investors and companies for funds, at SGInnovate, we also encourage companies to review innovations from a different perceptive by inviting them to pitch to entrepreneurs.

Where is the future of innovation headed?

 Jacqueline Alexis Thng: Accelerated by COVID-19, digitalization and connectivity has become more essential than ever. We’ve seen a shift in consumer behaviors towards more personalized, contactless and immersive experiences enabled by digital technologies, from healthcare, e-commerce to entertainment.

To respond to these future trends, the Singapore government is said to invest SG$24 billion ($18.1 billion) over the next three years to help local businesses build “deep, future-ready” capabilities for innovation and transformation. They will also enhance programs to support innovation efforts especially in areas such as MedTech and food manufacturing that has seen growing demand across Asean members.

What are SGInnovate’s top two priorities for 2022?  

Dr. Lim Jui: Since our founding in 2017, we have been very invested in digital deep tech, which enabled us to be an early investor in areas such as AI, cybersecurity, transportation tech and so on. However, starting from last year, we moved more to digital health, acting as an advocate for areas in drugs, diagnostics and agri-food that don’t necessarily receive the attention they deserve from private companies.

1. Medicare

Medicare has always been a key focus for SGInnovate because of our ability to work closely with researchers and institutions at an early stage of innovation. With Covid-19, many previously under-addressed needs have been unearthed.

Telemedicine solutions, for instance, are gaining traction in SEA, as consumers now wish to meet their medical needs remotely due to their fear of the virus. The pandemic also exposed the fragile public healthcare system and the lack of healthcare professionals. As a result, there has been an increasing demand for telemedicine to fill this gap in healthcare.

For example, WhiteCoat, Singapore’s leading telemedicine platform for on-demand remote healthcare services, has been backed by SGInnovate to launch a mobile application that connects consumers to an extensive and curated network of medical practitioners and allied healthcare professionals for a best-in-class telehealth experience.

We expect the growth of digital healthcare solutions to continue to catch steam as Covid-19 has made the subject matter a top priority for consumers and institutions alike.

2. Agri-food

Agri-food tech is our spearhead to the sustainability space. We look at innovation in food as a means to tackle climate change because the methane impact from eating meat is resulting in such sizable carbon emissions. In Singapore, where we don’t have farms or livestock, our focus could be on things that we already know, such as how to manipulate certain wavelengths of light to accelerate plant growth.

Covid-19 has also greatly accelerated the growth of this industry. A silver lining of the pandemic is that we have successfully unified all research power in the fight against a common enemy, which gave birth to solutions like the vaccine we have today. In the same way, global scientific intelligence has also come together in the fight against climate change. That is why at SGInnovate, the ability to look externally and collaborate with global research power is an important strength we harbor to help drive innovation within this space.


Open innovation is a more profitable way to innovate because it can reduce costs, accelerate time to market, increase differentiation in the market and create new revenue streams for the company. With COVID-19, businesses experienced an opportunity to innovate through the crisis and now it’s about how they can continue to fully embrace open innovation beyond. Companies must consider how they can make these altered ways of approaching innovation truly stick in order to unlock speed, creativity and business growth.

Are you interested in increasing your innovation capacity? Prophet’s Experience & Innovation experts can help you to underpin a superior approach to innovation. Get in touch here.


Webinar Replay: Innovation as a Future Growth Driver for Singapore

The pandemic is changing the role of innovation. SGInnovate’s CEO explains how that plays out in Singapore.

58 min

Innovation is the cornerstone of business growth today. Figuring out the right formula results in big ideas and opens the door to new business opportunities. In this webinar, our expert speakers, Jacqueline Alexis Thng, Partner of Prophet, and Dr. Lim Jui, CEO of SGInnovate, discuss how innovation is driving future growth in Singapore.

Watch to learn:

  • How SGInnovate is driving innovation and investing in Deep Tech (newly researched, frontier technologies) in Singapore
  • The essentials of open innovation, including its benefits and best practices
  • The impact of coronavirus and the future of innovation

Download the presentation here.

To learn more about how to create winning innovations that grab customers’ attention at once, download our latest whitepaper High-Concept Thinking: 6 Ways To Create Striking Innovations.


Mastering Business Complexity Through Experience-Led Solutions

Moving forward requires separating complex problems from those that are merely complicated.

The last decade has seen accelerated business change more than any time before. The maturity of connected technology, the scale of global growth and the breadth of new business models have delivered a wholly different set of opportunities for businesses to work through. Most large enterprise businesses are evolutions and conglomerations of 20th-century industries that efficiently solved complicated problems around scaled development, distribution, price and marketing. 

While these attributes may have conquered vertical integration and built resiliency at one time, today, they are no longer sufficient to address the business issues of our connected markets and empowered consumers. This is even more evident now in a post-pandemic world. Businesses in 2021 are being challenged by interdependent complex issues and new delivery models, which require an experience-led approach to problem-solving. 

The Critical Difference Between Complicated and Complex Business Problems  

Understanding the difference between a complicated and complex business problem is crucial. Before a problem can be managed effectively, it must be recognized for what it is. If you manage complex things as if they are merely complicated, you’re likely setting your company up for failure.  

So, what is the difference between a complicated 20th-century business problem and a complex 21st-century business problem?  

Complicated problems are hard but can be resolved through systematic reasoning and processes. With complicated problems, you often can identify the constituent parts, optimize each individually and deliver value across a solution. Clear, MECE and broadly applicable. Whether that was global supply chains, optimizing manufacturing or franchising service experiences, the goal has been to optimize elements in the process to improve the bottom line and create efficient scaled solutions.   

Complex problemson the other hand, involve many unknowns and are created when different actors and systems interact in a way that can result in unexpected cause-effect scenarios. These can be as distinctive as looking to improve retail employee career support globally, building a green energy marketplace or delivering home health care for people with chronic conditions.  

Dealing with such complex problems requires a more nuanced approach, including firsthand knowledge of how different incentives and constraints within a network of actors might adjust the experience for the people you are looking to deliver value for. This type of work cannot easily be strategized or architected from afar. Instead, it requires individuals to be active in the participation and immersion of the experience to identify the user needs, craft insightful hypotheses, test their ideas in the real world, thoughtfully measure outcomes and iterate.  

“Applying a 20th-century solution approach to a complex 21st-century problem will invariably fail to account for all the conditions, levers and expectations of the people involved.”

Recently we worked with a large retailer to help them understand the opportunity to create a B2B prosumer offering. Through interviews and testing, we realized that a major improvement to attracting and retaining customers in this new audience required better data-driven services for their front-line employees. Through rapid prototyping in coordination with their employees, we developed a new inventory interface, tested with real customers, and operationalized this in under 12 weeks to unlock a new experience and expand the share of wallet with a new audience. 

Business Problems Today Need a More Resilient, Experience-Led Approach to Solve Them 

Applying a 20th-century solution approach to a complex 21st-century problem will invariably fail to account for all the conditions, levers and expectations of the people involved. The focus should be less on knowing the answer and more on understanding the opportunity deeply. It is the best time to innovate. It is the worst time to stand still. 

Taking an experience-led approach to problem-solving helps businesses to:  

  • Achieve desired outcomes
  • Build business value by finding new ways to delight users with solutions that are fit for purpose
  • Capture better intelligence and awareness of the context in which users are interacting 
  • Solve for non-obvious needs that create greater value for the user

Ultimately, an experience-led approach to problem-solving helps you to deeply understand a complex environment and context in order to iterate a solution that delivers against multiple needs. Companies are better positioned to thoughtfully understand what needs people have and deliver more impactful experiences as a result. 

We worked with a large healthcare company to identify new product offerings for a very complex set of patients. In working with the customers and the client’s customer support team, we found that many services that were meaningful fell into categories like supporting the caregivers, coordinating third-party care services and restorative care for the families of patients. This insight led us to develop a more holistic product offering through partnerships instead of relying on the client to build or own all the capabilities and still monetize a product. 


More Businesses Need to Become Outcome Obsessed 

You have probably heard the phrase of focusing on ‘outcomes over outputs’. However, focusing on what a great outcome looks and feels like for the user, helps us to think more broadly on all the contexts we can use to design experiences and products. In a world where better, cheaper and quicker is not enough, focusing on outcomes helps us to frame opportunities that are inspirational instead of simply tactical.  

This is a fundamental shift in focus for many. It brings with it a lot of baggage in questioning the norms and constraints that we have worked under for centuries – and that have underpinned the development of, what by all rights, is a successful society. We are no longer judged on only what we can deliver and if it was functional, but if it was impactful and delightful for the user. When we help companies create new business offerings, or reinvent their existing product capabilities, our goal is to make sure we are not just optimizing for complicated issues but developing muscles to compete in an increasingly complex environment. 

Prophet’s Experience & Innovation practice can help you to underpin a rigorous approach to business problem-solving. Get in touch here 


Three Signs You Need a Customer-Centric Transformation

These common blindspots get in the way of breakthrough insights.

The CEO of a large financial-services organization recognized that their customers were defecting to fintech disruptors, ranging from SoFi to Acorns to Robinhood. The customer base was shrinking and revenue growth was stagnant. But while everyone constantly talked about customer-centricity, the executive team didn’t realize how unfocused they had become. This became clear when they couldn’t explain why some customers were leaving and which customers should be their future source of growth.

“How can we find our way back to growth when we don’t even know who our customer is,” the CEO asked.

The company realized it needed to undergo a transformation.

Most Companies Aren’t as Consumer-Centric as They Think

The pressure for reinvention feels more urgent than ever as organizations look to find their way past the turbulence of the pandemic. Customer behavior has shifted radically and with it, so have customer expectations. Markets are resizing. Supply chains are disrupted. Digital commerce is growing rapidly. Customer experiences are the new product.

Despite these changes, companies, theoretically, are 100% committed to customer-centricity. Unfortunately, all that noise has caused many to relax their true commitment to customers — even if they can’t quite see it. (Of course, some have never been customer-centric, despite years of lip service.)

In our transformation work, we’ve come to understand the root of this lack of focus. Companies missing customer-centricity often struggle with at least some of these internal barriers:

Failing To Connect the Dots

Customer-centricity requires a deep and connected view of the customer, supporting real-time, integrated customer insights. This constantly refreshed stream of data is a tool that all functions should use, and should be buttressed by meaningful, qualitative research including deep listening and active interrogation. The data helps spot the critical shifts in customer behaviors. Tools like ethnography are critical to getting at the why behind the trends in the data. Both ingredients are critical to customer-centric growth.

“Customer-centricity requires a deep and connected view of the customer, supporting real-time, integrated customer insights.”

Too often, companies invest in one-off research studies without thinking through how the insights can be operationalized, distributed, and refreshed over time. Or, they over-rely on data collection as the sole source of customer truth without delving into the why behind the behaviors they are seeing. Without the combination of data and insights, companies can easily lose their way.

Finally, different business units typically “own” these insights, which means they aren’t shared or connected across the organization. The result is that sales, marketing, product and service teams each see a different side of the customer, and no one is connecting the dots or able to see the bigger picture.

True customer-centricity flows from an ongoing and distributed source of new insights — this includes a combination of survey and perceptual data along with database and behavioral insights. Staying on top of what consumers want today and in the future will be crucial to identify the right products, services and experiences that lend themselves towards new opportunities for growth.

Unwillingness To Put Yourself Out of Business

Companies that pay lip service to customer-centricity build products and experiences to fit existing capabilities or business models and then optimize margins based on testing. They think about what they want and what’s good for their margins. They look at existing resources and say, “What can we build with what we have?”

Customer-centric organizations approach innovation and experience design differently. They are unencumbered by how things are done now. Instead, think about how to best meet customer needs today and in the future.

This is inherently risky. Nike’s 2017 decision to sell directly with consumers meant ditching large wholesale customers. To some, that seemed reckless.  Within a year of adopting a direct-to-consumer model, their revenue grew by nearly 6%, and Nike continues to be one of the world’s most fast-moving, beloved brands.

Fear of Going All-in

Companies that aren’t all-in on customer-centricity might think that engagement is a metric only the marketing team needs to focus on, or that managing Net Promoter Scores is a role for the servicing department. They may be willing to overhaul some areas or happy to tweak the existing business model. But complete reinvention? That’s often off the table.

However, there is no such thing as a partial transformation. Genuinely customer-centric organizations know that to accelerate growth, it takes alignment through the entire company. Whether in sales or HR, supply chain or R&D, these organizations set shared transformation goals around the relationships they seek to create with their customers, and they hold everyone to account. Hiring, compensation and operating models are linked to these customer relationship goals in ways that reinforce the right behaviors and business decisions.


Customer-centric transformation strategies are powerful for companies to gain relevance and win a place in people’s hearts. When organizations put this objective arbiter – the customer – at the center of all decisions, it provides the clarity needed to unlock growth. Of course, these transformation agendas take digital and enterprise objectives into account. But by committing to a customer-centric path–and the promise to follow those customers anywhere, companies become increasingly more relevant. They become indispensable to the lives of their customers and they find uncommon growth.

That’s what we’ve achieved for our financial services client: A complete customer-centric transformation – a coordinated multi-year effort to impact every aspect of the business. Working with the CEO, chief growth officer and leadership team, Prophet helped design and operationalize this transformation agenda, prioritizing key markets and target customers, and reimagining products, services, and experiences to make customers’ lives easier. Within a year, new business revenue rose 8%, and new leads increased 20 times over.

Contact us to learn more about customer-centric transformation and what steps your organization needs to take to achieve uncommon growth.


Ask These 3 Questions to Evolve Your Digital Transformation

Even companies far along in the change journey need these basic reality checks.

Digital transformation doesn’t mean what it used to. In fact, the term, as it’s been used to describe so many corporate efforts over the last 20-plus years, means something different today: Building digital businesses. And that goal is very much alive.

Today, when companies talk about digital transformation, it’s because they want to find new ways to use technology to serve customers better. They hope to build business engines that continually reinvent themselves. They understand “transformation” isn’t an endpoint but a state of constant evolution.

Businesses also know that the need is urgent. Research from Altimeter, a Prophet company, finds that 92% of leaders believe their current business model won’t remain viable if digitization continues at current rates. However, many companies are conflicted about how to transform.

It doesn’t help that digital transformation conjures images of expensive failures. According to a 2019 study, companies like General Electric, Ford, Procter & Gamble and others have sunk up to $1.3 trillion in digital transformation efforts, and about 70%–roughly $900 billion–was wasted.

But the consequence of not pursuing digital transformation is worse. Almost every recent notable bankruptcy–from Toys R Us to Hertz to Frontier Communications–is linked to failure to transform.

Typically, efforts fail because those in charge keep insisting that digital transformation is rooted in technology. That’s where people get it wrong: digital transformation is based on people and enabled by technology. More specifically, initiatives collapse because leaders don’t approach their strategy with the right mindset. In the race to find easy wins and weak consensus, they focus on tech-driven tools and tactics rather than what these tools are in service of.  They also skip the three most important conversations required for successful transformation:

What Are Our Goals?

For the many companies that lurch from one quarter to the next, articulating a bold vision is difficult. And even for those skilled in adaptive business strategies, following customers in wholly new directions is daunting.

But it’s essential. Transformation can only succeed when leadership sets a clear, measurable vision for how digital will transform the business. Further, executives must do more than simply state their transformation agenda. They must champion the initiative and hold everyone accountable for their part in creating the necessary capabilities, products and services to bring that vision to life. Transformation cannot happen in silos. It must reach across the entire business and be embedded in all functions for real change to happen.

This is inherently risky. Nike’s 2017 decision to use digital muscle to connect directly with consumers meant ditching large wholesale customers. To some, that seemed reckless. But it paid off: its share price has nearly tripled since, and Nike continues to be one of the most fast-moving, beloved brands in the world.

Goals should be specific, and they must acknowledge the need to move at two speeds, with short-term optimization and long-term iterative capability building.

“Digital transformation is based on people and enabled by technology.”

Electrolux, for example, knew consumers wanted every aspect of their home to be connected. It not only included the appliances they use but the way they shop for them. So, the company set goals to make digital integral to every phase of the customer journey. This required a dedicated cross-functional executive team, including marketing, product, sales, IT and critical markets.

These solutions are, of course, tech-enabled. By developing marketing mix guidelines that optimized spending by brand, product and channel, Electrolux improved its operating margins by nearly 20% in just one year.  But these changes grew from a deep understanding of people’s preferences and the explicit goal of transforming a manufacturing business into a consumer marketing-driven company. Like Nike, Electrolux has become a more people-focused enterprise that’s turned it into a relevance-seeking machine, always in motion and constantly evolving.

How Do We Find the Capabilities To Get There?

A new digital business requires new capabilities. Companies must confront the question of how they will obtain these new skills. Will they build them? Buy them? Partner with another company?

Consumers think of Starbucks as a coffee shop. However, Starbucks has long known that it can only fulfill its purpose if it puts the right technology in the hands of both customers and baristas. Consistent investment in loyalty and payment systems has paid off in a digital universe that now powers 50% of U.S. sales. with a quarter of sales from mobile devices. For Starbucks, building that proprietary technology was the right path. Tech has even become a revenue source on its own, with the company now licensing systems to international franchisees.

Acquisition is another route, sometimes chosen by some of the most innovative companies. That includes Apple, which recently bought Mobeewave, a payments company based on nearfield communication, rather than build its own. Even digital natives need help given the pace of change in customer expectations.

All three approaches may make sense, depending on an organization’s near-term goals and long-term ambitions. Deciding among these options requires a candid assessment of current organizational capabilities and what it will take to achieve them.

What Do Our People Need To Take Us There?

Organizational change is always tough and managing for digital transformation is even harder. If companies want people to work and think differently to transform the business, they can’t expect them to do it on demand. Behavior and mindset are emergent. Organizations need to enable the workforce with the right skills to create value, whether through upskilling or temporary support.

This requires evolved governance and tools that make it easy for them to do the right thing for the new strategy, and in the right way. Incentives must be realigned to give people space for experimentation, so they can navigate the ambiguity that comes along with almost all transformation strategies.

To do this right, most companies will require a complex revaluation of their capabilities, governance systems, talent mix and employee value proposition. They need new recruiting, retention and incentive practices as they prepare for the future and must enlist a diversity of talent that is new to them. They need short-term innovators and long-range thinkers, fast movers and patient tinkerers. Transformation requires a cultural revolution, hiring new types of people and skillsets, and then leading them differently.

At Prophet, we talk about the “body, mind and soul” of an organization; and that to digitally transform, a business needs to address all these elements. In Prophet’s Human-Centered Transformation Model™, an organization first determines what it wants its DNA to be – its purpose, its brand proposition and its strategic plan to win. Next, it goes to work on the “mind” (its talent, capabilities, and skills), the “body” (governance, process and tools) and the “soul” (its values, behaviors and rituals).

All are necessary for the digital transformation to have its full impact.


The risks inherent in digital transformation are real. But those risks must be weighed against the consequences of not pursuing digital transformation at all. Those include countless lost opportunities, and ultimately, extinction. Increasingly, people want to buy products and services in multiple channels, on their own schedule. And employees want to work with companies gaining in relevance. They’ll give up on digital laggards.

It takes bravery to convince corporate boards that it’s time to reinvent a company’s operating model. (After all, it isn’t supposed to be easy.) But by defining a digital vision, adding the required capabilities and building a future-ready workforce, companies can become responsive, adaptive and genuinely digital businesses.

Talk to us about how might we can help your organization digitally transform using Prophet’s Human-Centered Transformation Model™.


Business Transformation for Growth: Three Rules you Can’t Ignore

How customer-first thinking, sharpened digital strategy and renewed purpose drive high-impact change.

Companies are aggressively pursuing business transformation to drive top and bottom-line growth and establish a more effective business model for the future. The pressure for reinvention feels increasingly urgent as organizations look to find their way past the turbulence of the pandemic. Markets are fluid, technology is shifting and people are demanding more digital solutions than ever before.

Companies that settle for incremental progress simply won’t be able to keep up with fast-moving customers.  Companies that embrace this new landscape, however, can achieve uncommon growth – purposeful, profitable, transformative and sustainable. With agile and adaptive approaches to transformation, they can uncover new sources of revenue and relevance in record time.

“When a company’s purpose is clear, that North Star illuminates everything they do. It informs an approach that bridges corporate purpose with its promise to customers.”

Business transformation for growth isn’t easy and companies, especially ones burdened by unsuccessful transformation efforts, are justifiably reluctant to try again. Another common barrier is knowing where to focus and how to start. Too often, leadership gets derailed by decisions about technology. However, all transformation efforts – even ones undertaken as digital transformation – aren’t about tech. They’re based on people.

Taking a human-centered approach to transformation, and working with a variety of organizations in multiple industries, has shown us that no matter what the goals are, companies must follow these three rules of transformation to achieve sustainable growth.

Three Ways To Approach Business Transformation

1. The Customer Is Everything

Companies have been giving customer-centricity lip service for years, but they often fail to appreciate its transformative potential. When organizations put this objective arbiter – the customer – at the center of all decisions, it provides clarity and focus.

This requires an organizational obsession with customers and potential customers. What makes these people happy? What ruins their day? What can your organization do to help their lives run more smoothly? What makes them trust you? What inspires them?

As this customer focus permeates an organization, it gets easier to stop thinking about just selling products and shifts the focus to serving holistic customer needs.

Using this lens, companies can analyze demand opportunities and create a customer value matrix, complete with specific, measurable, time-bound goals. This allows them to identify, prioritize and activate initiatives that deliver on this strategy.

Customer-centric companies don’t spend much time fixing potholes in a customer journey. They don’t have to. Instead, they’re looking for ways to leapfrog expectations. And they also become more adept at changing course, quickly abandoning areas that no longer serve customers.

2. Be a Digital-First Company. But This Time, Do It Right.

All transformation is digital, and companies have known that for decades. But even as businesses invest trillions in digital transformation, they still fail more than they succeed. In our view, that’s because they fall into the trap of thinking technology is the answer. It’s become clear, that tech alone isn’t the answer. The goal is to become a digitally built business, which requires people who use digital-first thinking.

Digital transformation can only succeed when it focuses on people. To be effective, they must transform value drivers that impact others, including both external experiences and internal ways of working.

Companies can begin by setting an overall digital vision that resonates with both customers and employees. That vision requires a clear understanding of which areas will drive the most business and value, complete with specific, measurable objectives validated by key results.

Of course, the technology involved is a critical element, but the bigger issue is about the people in an organization. Do they have the right skills? Are they led and incentivized in a way that allows them to be digital-first? How are they recruited and retained? How does the culture flex and evolve to position the organization for growth in this digital-first world?

With clarified digital goals, companies can begin to iteratively deliver new products, services and experiences. They can regularly re-evaluate strategy and tactics based on key results and customer input.

3. Build an Agile, Purpose-Driven Organization

Companies that know what they stand for are inherently better at customer obsession and building businesses digitally. When a company’s purpose is clear, that North Star illuminates everything they do. It informs an approach that bridges corporate purpose with its promise to customers. This commitment to the customer, with investments aligned to support it, is the growth lever. It creates greater relevance and impact in the market.

This past year has demonstrated just how critical it is to have a clear and authentic purpose. It must resonate with every stakeholder group – not just investors and employees but also customers and members of all its communities.

Today’s consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, want to do business with companies that make the world a better place. They want to see companies commit to sustainability, diversity and fairness. And they’re demanding increasing transparency. Consumers can forgive brands that make and admit their mistakes. but as soon as they catch a company putting profits ahead of purpose, they’ll move on.

Achieving this agility and commitment to purpose often requires sweeping changes in a company’s culture, capabilities and organization.

Prophet believes human-centered transformations– purpose-driven, customer-focused and digital-first – are the best path to uncommon growth. We talk about the “mind, body and soul” of an organization; and that to transform, a business needs to address all these elements.

For instance, a large financial services company came to us with declining revenue as customers turned to newer fintech entrants. Our business transformation agenda helped guide the CEO, chief growth officer and leadership team to a new company purpose, making life easier for key customer segments. This digital-first strategy vastly improved its agility, so it could quickly pivot to meet people’s needs. Within a year, it increased new business revenue by 8% and drove a 20-fold increase in new leads.


To help companies make this leap, our model approaches organizations as a macrocosm of the individual: having a collective DNA, Body, Mind and Soul. This model overcomes cultural roadblocks, making it easier for companies to manage the complex changes required.

As each aspect of the business is swept into the transformation strategy, companies don’t just improve. They evolve. They increase relevance and reputation. And they achieve uncommon growth.

Contact us to learn how Prophet’s global, multi-disciplinary teams bring bold ideas and rigor that deliver growth through our breakthrough human-centered transformation model.


M&A: Maximizing Value in a Post-Pandemic Economy

The right deals don’t just boost revenue. By clarifying purpose, they increase value.

The global M&A market is blazing hot across every major sector. Just look at the headlines announcing a pending deal between Amazon and MGM. And before that, the big news was AT&T’s deal with Discovery Inc. With deal volume rapidly approaching $2 trillion in just the first half of 2021, that’s more deal activity than any corresponding period on record, according to Bloomberg. And there are signs the party is just getting started. With vaccinations trending upward, stimulus flowing in, borrowing costs at record low rates, corporate coffers awash in cash and global economies shifting into a new gear, companies are feeling more bullish about taking big bets on the future.

Many of these recent deals are substantial. The AT&T announcement to merge Warner Media business with Discovery Inc for $43 BN, joins a roster of other major deals such as S&P Global’s $44.5 BN purchase of IHS Markit and Canadian Pacific Railway’s $25 BN purchase of Kansas City Southern. These corporations are rightly looking to acquire new capabilities and access new business models that can help them adapt and grow effectively in a post-Covid world. With M&A deals likely to hit an all-time high in 2021, here are three things business leaders can do to maximize the value of post-pandemic deals:

1. Sharpen the Value Proposition

The pandemic reset customer behaviors and expectations, both globally and across categories. Companies that invested in digital customer engagement and agile operating models were able to pivot in order to address rapidly shifting customer needs and new, often virtual use cases. As the world emerges from lockdown, the needs and behaviors during the pandemic will combine with pre-pandemic use cases to shift market requirements, once again, into post-pandemic need states.

Shifting customer needs demand refreshed value propositions, which accelerating M&A activity seeks to address. Smart players will use M&A to not only acquire capabilities required to compete in post-pandemic markets but will push their organizations to refresh their comprehensive value proposition including – product, service promise, customer experience and branding.

Example: When Danaher acquired the life sciences assets of GE Health, it retooled the value proposition of that business. In creating a new operating company called Cytiva, Danaher brought a sharpened, stronger value proposition to its biopharma and research customers through a comprehensive product portfolio that dramatically and demonstrably accelerates the discovery-to-development-to production lifecycle of biopharmaceuticals.

2. Expand the Revenue Platform

Platform businesses have attractive revenue dynamics — cross-selling and customer penetration, low customer acquisition costs, the ability to extract first-party customer data and switching barriers that get higher as customers go deeper into the platform. Smart M&A uses acquisitions to not only acquire new capabilities, solutions or customers, it also actively adds and recombines to strengthen platform dynamics.

Example: When Cigna purchased Express Scripts (the largest single deal in 2018), it acquired ESI’s significant PBM and pharmacy assets. Last year, Cigna combined the ESI business with several legacy Cigna capabilities to create Evernorth, a robust health services platform with significant data assets. In combining and reconfiguring assets into Evernorth, Cigna is driving platform revenue dynamics through data-enabled solutions that draw from capabilities across the platform, and drive higher clinical outcomes while lowering costs, what the company calls “the value of integration.”

3. Clarify Purpose for Employees and Customers

Big deals can ratchet up expectations externally and raise anxiety internally. Post-Covid deals are likely to have an even more unsettling effect on the employees needed to power deal success. Office workers have endured a roller coaster year of change. After adapting to work from home, they face another round of seismic changes as re-entry begins and companies call them back into the office. Priorities for these workers have shifted during the pandemic and so has their status quo. Time with family is more precious, commuting is optional and office culture has gone online.

So, when asking employees to undertake a post-merger integration, there better be something meaningful to come back for. Companies undergoing a mega-merger should use this moment to clarify their purpose to the market and to employees. A 2019 Cone/Porter Novelli study found that purpose can drive real business impact, with 86% of respondents claiming that they were more likely to purchase purpose-driven brands and 79% claiming to be more loyal over time. Purpose also drives higher rates of retention, productivity and happiness at work among employees according to a 2017 Great Places to Work study.

Example: When CVS merged with Aetna, the newly combined entity promised to create a new data-driven healthcare model that’s more personal, more convenient and more tailored to individual patients than ever before. They’ve since continued to make good on their purpose to help people on their path to better health by creating a rolling thunder of moves aligned to their purpose and setting clear ESG targets for 2030 and holding themselves to account. Since the deal was announced in 2017 and closed in 2018, CVS Health has shown steady year-over-year revenue growth.

“These corporations are rightly looking to acquire new capabilities and access new business models that can help them adapt and grow effectively in a post-Covid world.”


It’s clear that as the pandemic recedes and companies look to build new capabilities to meet changing customer demands, the M&A market is just heating up. In order to capture the full value of these deals, it’s critical to understand the lasting implications of a post-Covid world and be ready to take the necessary steps of defining a clear value proposition that stakeholders can easily understand and relate to, strengthening existing platforms to deliver more value – not just building new ones – and finally establishing and living up to a purpose in an authentic way.

Going through a M&A? Contact us today to learn more about how we help our clients power growth after a merger.


How Five European Brands are Winning Over U.S. Consumers

IKEA, LEGO, Dyson, Spotify and BMW keep finding new ways to gain relevance.

The Prophet Brand Relevance Index® ranks hundreds of brands on the characteristics that U.S consumers find most meaningful. And while many of the usual suspects rise to the top, a year of pandemic and political upheaval has caused dramatic shifts. People are embracing and rejecting brands in entirely different ways.

This is the sixth iteration of our ground-breaking research, based on the same core principles of relentless relevance. We measure whether a brand is customer-obsessed, ruthlessly pragmatic, pervasively innovative and distinctively inspired.

Five European brands have risen fast in the relevance stakes, offering lessons that transcend industry and category and apply to any brand trying to compete in the U.S.

LEGO: Providing creative escapes for all generations

Danish brand LEGO has shot up 23 spots into 5th place this year. And while competitive toy brands like Mattel, Fisher-Price and American Girl also saw their relevance scores increase as parents adapted to their unexpected role as home-schoolers,  yet LEGO was the brand with the highest marks for innovation. Consumers love that it “engages with [with them] in new and creative ways” and perceive that it has better products, services and experiences than competitors.

Much of LEGO’s purpose is built around its commitment to helping children flex their inner architect. However, it also understands that adults hunger for creative play too, launching such products as LEGO Botanical Collection, which allows grown-ups to build flower bouquets and bonsai trees from its bioplastic components.

Spotify: Hitting those personal sweet spots

Pandemic living is zapping some of the music streaming category’s relevance, with fewer people commuting to work. Yet Swedish music maestro Spotify (#12) sits at the top of all media and entertainment companies, outperforming Pixar and Netflix. It wows in the attributes that drive customer obsession, ranking fourth among all brands in both “connects with me emotionally” and “makes me happy.”

One way it does that is by offering intuitive, adaptive and highly personalized products. It then communicates those advantages with dialed-up marketing. To introduce Spotify Premium Duo, adorable puppets dramatized couples’ challenges in sharing music accounts. And as people scrambled to find productive ways to fill the downtime created by stay-at-home orders, it introduced a digital campaign called “Music, Meet Podcasts.”

Spotify’s real relevance comes from understanding its users’ deeper yearnings. “Listening is Everything,” for example, is a brand platform that continuously reminds people of everything they love about music, doped with personalization and inventive social-media interactions. A sharp marketing effort that truly reaches users’ emotional sweet spots.

Dyson: Limitless capabilities for the ‘Apple of Appliances’

Very few companies can inspire the same sort of brand loyalty and consumer confidence as British brand Dyson.  Jumping up to #30 in this year’s ranking, up from #51, its commitment to continuous innovation sees it disrupting markets and outpacing the competition. The brand reimagines mundane domestic appliances – such as vacuum cleaners, air purifiers and hair dryers – to spectacularly enhance their utility. And with more people spending time at home over the past year, appliance-buying has been on the rise.

Respondents rated Dyson highly for being modern and in touch, engineering technology to actively destroy harmful gases in the air and to dry our hands in rapid time – just in time for the world’s obsession with hand hygiene.

But good products alone are not enough to win consumer favor today. Nor is it about innovation for novelty’s sake. Consumers want products and services that align with their personal values and genuinely benefit the greater good too. As a brand built on ‘lean engineering,’ Dyson is devoted to making things more efficient while using less resources – putting sustainability is at the center of its business.  Whether they are better for the planet, for people – or both – purchasing a pricey but environmentally responsible Dyson product makes consumers feel good about their buying decisions.

IKEA: Offering initiatives that support a shared sense of purpose

With hundreds of millions of people staying safer-at-home, the living room couch became the center of the universe. So did the need to quickly turn laundry rooms into office nooks, kitchen tables into classrooms and bedrooms into a place to hide from the rest of the family. This was IKEA’s moment in the sun. It sailed into the #42 spot, up from #93, easily passing such companies as the Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wayfair.

For all its practicality and commitment to affordable, functional furniture, its strong suit in the U.S is an inspiration. And it earns its highest scores for “having a set of beliefs and values that align with my own.” IKEA has baked purpose into everything it does since the furniture maker was founded in Sweden in 1943. Initiatives such as #buybackFriday, where the company bought back unwanted IKEA items for Black Friday, demonstrates how the brand’s North Star goes well beyond kitchen cabinets. IKEA extends its trademark warmth to everyone: One advertising effort, “Be someone’s home,” encourages people to accept all sexual orientations and gender identities.

BMW: Linking heritage to innovation

Fastest-rising brand in the automotive category? Look no further than Germany’s very own BMW. Accelerating 45 places to #67 in the BRI, its growing relevance in the U.S. could answer why BMW beat Lexus and Mercedes-Benz as the best-selling luxury car brand in the country in 2020.

With more time to think about cars and road trips, BMW stands out from other brands by aggressively showcasing what it has always stood for: Well-designed vehicles that push the boundaries of what’s expected.

Autophiles are already drooling over the BMW iX, the electric sport utility vehicle that will compete with Tesla, due in the U.S. next year. And it’s making waves with its Remote Software Upgrades. No wonder people give it such high marks for “always finding new ways to meet my needs.”

At the massive U.S. Consumer Electronics Show, BMW released a short film that both mocks and brags about its innovative history, including a car fight between a 20-year-old “Grampa” model with a smart-mouthed all-electric “Whippersnapper.” An artful blend of safety and familiarity in its marketing strategy that builds trust with U.S. consumers while emphasizing design and innovation signals its commitment to continually improving.

“Consumers want products and services that align with their personal values and genuinely benefit the greater good too.”


Of course, we know that the brands that rank highest in the BRI aren’t doing one thing. Those leading relevant brands are pursuing multiple paths.

Here are four key areas on which to focus in order to connect better with customers:

Lead with purpose.

A compelling purpose is a roadmap for change and should drive everything a brand does.

Adopting a mindset of customer obsession.

Focusing on increasing customer understanding so they can invest in delivering products and services that truly meet an important need in their customers’ eyes.

Improving the customer experience.

Making bold steps to delight and drive loyalty. Driving more holistic, targeted and personalized omnichannel marketing efforts.

Innovation is critical.

Without innovation, organizations will not be able to grow and thrive. Many are moving at two speed, introducing products and services to address immediate needs, as well as driving a forward-thinking innovation strategy that paves the way for future business growth and success.

Want to learn more about the most relevant brands? Download the Prophet Brand Relevance Index® today. If you need help building and maintaining your brand relevance, then our expert team can help. Get in touch.


Report: Benchmarking Digital Maturity in B2B Companies

Discover the main drivers of digital transformation investments and initiatives for B2B companies, based on 170 interviews.

B2B organizations have made drastic changes in response to COVID-19 – shifting to remote work, digitizing customer offerings and moving commerce online. Digitization planned to take years happened in months.

Based on conversations with 170 senior B2B transformation leaders and C-suite executives, this report reveals the main drivers of digital transformation investments and initiatives for B2B companies in 2020.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • Substantial Operational Shifts Due to COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Exposed Significant Gaps in Digital Selling Capabilities
  • Marketing Transformation Continues Despite and Because of the Pandemic
  • Five Stages of Digital Transformation Maturity
  • Most Companies Continue Transformation Initiatives – Digitally Mature Are Accelerating
  • Application of Digital Tools Varies by Maturity Stage
  • Technology Priorities Reflect Level of Digital Transformation Maturity
  • Digital Transformation Sponsored Primarily by CIO/CTOs and CEOs

Download the full study to explore additional findings and examine detailed charts for each of the headlines provided above.

About the Authors

Fred Geyer and Joerg Niessing are co-authors of The Definitive Guide to B2B Digital Transformation, curators of – an online resource center for B2B transformation leaders and facilitators of a monthly webinar series featuring senior B2B executives discussing the challenges of B2B digital transformation. For more information about the guide, the webinar series or to gain access to the online resources go to Fred is a Senior Partner at Prophet, a leading growth and transformation consultancy and Joerg is Senior Affiliate Professor of Marketing at INSEAD and director of INSEAD’s “B2B Marketing Strategies” and “Leading Digital Marketing” programs.

Open Research

This independent research was fully funded by Altimeter, A Prophet Company. This report is published under the principle of Open Research and is intended to advance the industry at no cost. This report is intended for you to read, utilize, and share with others; if you do so, please provide attribution to Altimeter, a Prophet Company. This B2B report is part of a larger study by Altimeter, A Prophet Company: The 2020 State of Digital Transformation was authored by Charlene Li, Omar Akhtar, Susan Etlinger, Ed Terpening, Ted Moser, and Aubrey Littleton.

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What Amazon Pharmacy Means for Organizations Looking for Post-COVID Growth Moves

This latest disruption is potentially enormous. It also exposes plenty of behavioral white spaces.

Amazon just announced its online pharmacy, news the healthcare world has long expected. And while much will be said about what Amazon Pharmacy means for the $1.2 trillion prescription drug business, we believe there’s something even bigger going on here. And it offers lessons to every company seeking growth in the post-COVID-19 world.

Amazon is proving once again that digital transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s about moving at “the speed of digital” and giving customers what they need. The e-commerce giant is merely acting on a template for growth that works in every industry and for every brand: When people begin to start moving through their lives differently, it creates upheaval, revealing new pockets of need. And the space between these changed behaviors offers abundant growth opportunities for every business willing to study them closely and act. We call these pockets of new opportunity behavioral white spaces.

Amazon’s timing offers an important lesson. This move has been brewing for years, even before its acquisition of PillPack in 2018. The company’s value proposition–getting people what they need, fast–made pharmacy an obvious extension. Who wouldn’t like to get routine prescriptions filled online, as quickly and seamlessly as every other Amazon Prime purchase?

But while it had been laying the groundwork for years, COVID-19 changed the way the world views healthcare. Consumers have always been eager for digital solutions to staying healthy and making their lives more convenient. The pandemic is clarifying, crystallizing and augmenting these new preferences, creating the perfect moment for Amazon’s launch.

Assessing the new playing field

Growth strategists should look beyond the inevitable “Amazon set to crush yet another industry” headlines. First, we are not sure it will prove to be true. Secondly, the news is more significant than that, highlighting an equal-opportunity growth moment. While there are multiple moves available, the best choices will differ depending on each company’s purpose and value proposition. Amazon is just following the universal rules of innovation and customer-centricity: What are the new customer needs, and how can we meet them in new and better ways?

There are many ways to win within today’s environment. Other companies have capitalized on the need for home care and the benefits and convenience of home delivery. Take Express Scripts Pharmacy as an example which relaunched its enhanced digital experience and consumer-centric brand earlier this summer. Unlike Amazon or new entrants in the pharmacy space, they’re building upon their deep clinical expertise, legacy in practicing pharmacy, ease and convenience of home delivery, coupled with 24/7 access to specially trained pharmacists.

“The space between these changed behaviors offers abundant growth opportunities for every business willing to study them closely and act.”

Express Scripts Pharmacy used key insights to understand that for many consumers, particularly those with multiple chronic conditions, pharmacist expertise matters more than convenience. And it’s worth pointing out that Americans have enormous trust and respect for their pharmacists, with Gallup reporting they are just behind nurses and doctors.

That’s just two players attacking the space from two different angles. There are certainly many other moves still available.

One way to analyze potential growth moves is to think about three different roles organizations can play as consumers continue to speed through these rapid changes in both needs and expectations. We like to use the “transformers, creators and invaders” framework when thinking about industry disruption. Healthcare provides some stellar examples.

Express Scripts Pharmacy is a transformer. It’s an example of a company reinventing itself and its offerings, using experience-first initiatives to reach its customers in new–and better–ways. Companies, like Teladoc, Oscar and Higi, are creators. And then there are invaders, like Amazon, moving from one category to another.


Whether one’s ambition is to be a transformer, creator or invader, the lesson is the same: For enterprises prepared to meet the moment, dive into these behavioral white spaces and listen to consumers, the opportunities for uncommon growth are there for the taking.

Wondering what behavioral white spaces are opening up for your organization and how to map out the best growth opportunities in the post-pandemic world? Contact us today.


Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia: Three Key Aspects that Accelerate Growth

Our research shows that optimism, commitment and ambition are powering major regional gains.

With the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, there is more pressure for digital transformation to accelerate in many organizations. In our latest global study, Altimeter, a Prophet company surveyed more than 600 key executives, including 100 in Southeast Asia (SEA) across Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, about how they are pursuing digital transformation and the impact of the pandemic.

Our study reveals interesting differences between digital transformation efforts and sentiment in Southeast Asia versus the rest of the world. (Download the full SEA report here)

There are three distinct aspects that made Southeast Asia companies’ digital transformation journey stand out.

1. Optimism: Accelerating Digital Transformation Amid COVID-19 Crisis

While the rest of the world is becoming more risk-averse amid the crisis, SEA expresses optimism about the future. In fact, a significantly higher number of companies have accelerated their digital transformation initiatives and are focused on growth.

Figure 1: Digital Transformation Initiatives Shifted Amidst COVID-19
“How have your digital transformation initiatives shifted because of the spread of COVID-19”

Similar to the rest of the world, SEA companies have seen or are anticipating drop-offs of revenue as a result of COVID-19; however, the impact is less significant. Thanks to the massive and quick preventive measures enacted by the government at an early stage, Vietnam is suffering the least financially during COVID-19. Specifically, 27 percent of respondents stated that they have seen no impact on revenue or don’t anticipate any future impact, followed by Indonesia (15%) and Singapore (13%)

Figure 2: The Impact of COVID-19 on Financial Performance
“What impact has COVID-19 had on your financial performance?”

Vietnam’s commitment to transform digitally had already started before the pandemic with the launch of the National Public Service Portal and Resolution for Industry 4.0. It accelerated during the COVID-19 outbreak when offline economic activities slowed down because of strong government policies. In June 2020, the country launched a National Digital Transformation Roadmap to further advance digital transformation around three key pillars i.e. e-government, e-economy and e-society. The Singapore government also launched similar initiatives offering subsidies and grants to help companies embark or accelerate its digital transformation programs.

“While the rest of the world is becoming more risk-averse amid the crisis, SEA expresses optimism about the future.”

2. Commitment: Focused Executive Sponsorship to Carry out Change

There is stronger executive sponsorship on digital transformation in SEA. Here, digital transformation is primarily driven by the CEO (30% in SEA vs. 25% in rest of the world), and twice as likely to be owned by the CDO (27% in SEA vs. 13% in rest of the world) or Board of Directors (14% in SEA vs. 6% in rest of the world).

Figure 3: Executive Sponsorship for Digital Transformation
“Which executive officially owns or sponsors the digital transformation initiative”

Leaders in SEA not only sponsor digital transformation in spirit, but understand its importance and follow through with frequent and visible support. Seventy-two percent of the executives in SEA see digital transformation as one of their top three business priorities. Thirty-four percent say digital transformation is constantly connected to higher business strategy and a top priority (vs. 23% in the rest of the world).

Figure 4: Nature of Executive Leadership
“Which of these statements best describes the nature of executive leadership in your organization”

With strong leadership, digital transformation is optimistically embraced throughout organizations in SEA. When asked about their sentiment towards digital transformation, SEA companies appear to be more optimistic across multiple aspects — stronger culture, engaged workforce and stronger prospects. Leadership’s confidence in digital transformation is stronger than other global countries, with 90 percent leadership support vs. 76 percent in the rest of the world.

Figure 5: Overall Sentiment Towards Digital Transformation
“Please indicate how much you agree with each of the following statements, from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree), T2B%”

3. Ambition: Investing in Technologies to Drive Exponential Growth

Comprising some of the world’s fastest-growing markets, digital transformation in SEA is about efficient market expansion and customer acquisition supported by agile and flexible operations, innovation and technologies.

The SEA market is highly diverse in terms of language, culture and behavior. Digital transformation ensures that the technology and data are in place to better support operations (48% in SEA vs. 32% in rest of the world), and allow agility and flexibility to quickly capture opportunities (36% in SEA vs. 30% in the rest of the world). With a more positive market outlook, SEA companies are less concerned about ‘playing defense’ with initiatives like creating a culture to handle disruption (8% in SEA vs. 15% in the rest of the world).

Figure 6: Top Drivers of Digital Transformation
“What are the key drivers of digital transformation within your organization?”

Thanks to higher proliferation of mobile devices and more affordable networks, internet users in SEA had exceeded 300M by 2019. In order to meet the growing demand of this community, technology investments in SEA are more about connectivity and social & consumer platforms.

E-commerce and ride-hailing are the most promising sectors in SEA, supported by investments from China and U.S. tech giants e.g. Alibaba, Tencent, Didi and Amazon. Relevant technologies are receiving higher attention than the rest of the world. Forty percent of respondents selected IoT as their investment priority (vs. 29% in the rest of the world), 26 percent selected e-commerce platform (vs. 19% in the rest of world), and 21 percent selected AR/VR (vs. 14% in the rest of world).

Figure 7: Prioritized Technology Investments
“What are your top priorities for technology investments in 2020”

While global companies are still at the testing or infancy stage of using AI, it is increasingly implemented on a regular basis and adopted in SEA. The majority of the respondents are leveraging AI extensively in driving new products, business models and customer experiences, much higher than the global (29% in SEA vs. 19% in rest of the world).

Figure 8: Use of Artificial Intelligence Within Organization
“To what extent do you use artificial intelligence (including machine learning, computer vision, natural language process, robotics, or deep learning) within your organization”

One major source of momentum is the booming of fintech and digital banking, the biggest adopters who use AI technology to enable mobile payment and fast lending services.

From a country perspective, Singapore is taking a substantial lead in AI development and adoption, fuelled by investments from the government on both software and physical infrastructure e.g., joint-innovation on intelligent robots, increased data storage capacity, open data and open government platforms, as well as high-speed network and advanced IT security.  Other countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia are lagging, but gradually catching up.

However, SEA is still catching up on developing more modern tech infrastructure e.g. cloud and cybersecurity (see Figure 7).


Regardless of financial challenges, COVID-19 has in fact presented more opportunities for companies in Southeast Asia to accelerate their digital transformation agendas. As the fourth largest trading and consuming region in the world, with one of the largest young and digitally savvy segments, companies in SEA should keep investing in building new digital capabilities and technologies to stay competitive, while conveying a strong strategic vision and executive leadership. Last but not least, it is important to increase efforts on modernizing IT infrastructure to catch up with other leading markets in the world.

Download the full PDF report, or get in touch to learn more about how to accelerate your digital transformation in SEA to drive uncommon growth.


Reclaiming Interest: A Transformation Playbook for the Insurance Industry

Learn to transform your organization from the inside-out, adding the capabilities and talent needed right now.

While insurance companies have made much progress in reinventing themselves for today’s customers, the results are clear: there’s still some way to go. As many turn their attention toward planning and formulating their strategies for the year ahead, this playbook from our Financial Services practice outlines the different levers to pull in order to speed up digital transformation efforts and customer experience initiatives.

In this playbook you will learn:

  • How insurers can transform their organizations from the inside out by effecting culture change and equipping the business with the right talent and capabilities to succeed in 2021.
  • How a customer-centric approach can help your business, how to get started and how to measure you efforts.
  • What the state of transformation is in the industry today and the reasons to hit the gas now.

Download the full report below.

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