The digital economy is the dominant force that is reshaping businesses globally. To tap into and benefit from the massive digital economy opportunity in APAC, Dentsu Aegis Network and MIT Technology together have rolled out a white paper – titled “Connectivity and QoL: How digital consumer habits and ubiquitous technology are driving smart city development in Asia Pacific. ”
Through these whitepapers, Dentsu along with its partners aims to distil the impact of new technologies and benefit from their opportunities. To find out the strategy behind this collaboration, The Drum spoke with Arvind Sethumadhavan, chief innovation officer, Dentsu Aegis Network APAC.
Sethumadhavan said: "We have set ourselves the ambition of being a 100% digital economy business by 2020. With rapid urbanisation and growing affluence, Asia will be the growth engine and innovation platform of the future.
"We have, thus, been publishing whitepapers which bring to foray the potential for businesses around Asia’s Digital Disruption. We chose MIT Technology Review for their deep expertise in understanding the long-term impact of new technologies."
Singapore has made becoming the world’s first smart city-state one of its key objectives in the next few years. German technology giant Siemens is also setting its sights on the far east in the form of a partnership with the city-state of Singapore as it inaugurates a new digitalisation hub.
The Indian government has also rolled out its Smart Cities Mission, which is an urban renewal and retrofitting program with a mission to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen-friendly and sustainable.
The cashless economy is being boosted in APAC with India and Singapore leading the way. Visa released its' Consumer Payment Attitudes Survey 2016 a few months ago, which showed a large majority of Singaporeans embracing device-initiated payments, such as oon-demand services and peer-to-peer payments.
The key technological shifts driving smart city development in APAC, apart from digital payments, are cloud computing platforms, that enable fast and cost-effective application development.
Also, opening up public data and using open-source technologies to harness the power of innovation ecosystems, and consumer-driven application development, are other digital consumer habits, which are further driving smart city development.
As reported by Google-Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study, India's digital payments industry will grow to $500bn by 2020, contributing to 15% of GDP, which will further help boost the Indian economy.
When asked about the common drivers across successful smart cities in Asia Pacific, Sethumadhavan said: "The first is that Asian governments and businesses are often more willing to invest in experimental models that exploit new technologies, business models, and urban planning designs."
"The second distinguishing characteristic of Asia Pacific’s approach to smart cities is in the region’s efforts to engage the private sector in their development. Involving private enterprises in functions beyond issuing project tenders and other traditional forms of civil sector procurement is challenging, as many smart city initiatives have unclear revenue models—if any at all."
Bill Barney, Reliance’s CEO, observed that while India’s smart city planners have prioritized investment in “low-cost network infrastructure, and cloud computing resources to make application development cost-effective,” they are also correctly ensuring that they stay focused on addressing challenges in citizen access to public services and infrastructure.
The Drum has previously reported on the motivations driving creative businesses to choose to set up base in Singapore.