This article is an abridged version of the panel titled “Charting A Roadmap for 2021” at the CXO Summit – APAC 2020. To watch again the session of this webinar, please visit this link. KrASIA is a partner of CXO Summit – APAC 2020.
The disruption of the global economy in 2020 due to COVID-19 has made business forecasting even more challenging across all sectors. In the closing session of the CXO Summit – APAC 2020, Charlene Teo, partner development director at KrASIA, together with Simon Dale, Southeast Asia managing director at Adobe, and Arvinder Gujral, Southeast Asia managing director at Twitter, spoke about planning ahead for 2021.
Listening to customers and investing ahead of the curve
Adobe continues to be one of the household names in the creative scene market. The power of cloud computing, however, has made access to technology significantly cheaper and faster for the general public. The result of this trend has led to many new entrants to provide graphic design platforms with thousands of artistically designed pamphlets and other tools to average users.
“We really love competition, right? That is at the heart of the software industry, this continual innovation. And someone always has a great idea,” Dale said.
Given that speed is key, what makes an app or a brand really stand out from the competition is whether it can successfully integrate productivity into the development workstream. Based on a marketing and consumer survey conducted in August, Adobe discovered that consumers responded better to brands able to create value for their audience with more empathetic and relevant content. Responding to this demand, Adobe was able to reduce the lead time from content creation to online digital engagement.
The company, to drive awareness of Adobe’s creative space and tools, also organized an inaugural global online creative event titled “Adobe Max,” specifically targeting the creative community.
Perhaps, even more important than online engagement, Adobe spotted a huge opportunity in how consumers were taking their creative work with them on the go. Adobe Fresco, a free drawing and painting app, built especially for mobile devices, was the result of that market desire.
Multiple social media platforms, hundreds of conversations
For Twitter’s Gujral, there is not a one-size-fits-all product for social media. Instead, each platform is a closed-loop network around a specific theme. Different social media channels do a good job in amplifying the public conversation of the internet, he said.
In the case of Twitter, the recent crisis gave the company its best-ever results in terms of new audiences following the platform in the Asia Pacific area. Not only because people were forced to stay at home, but also because users wanted information, and they wanted it fast and reliable, Gujral said.
Twitter’s statistics also revealed high volumes of conversations around gaming and e-sports in Southeast Asia, most notably in Thailand and in the Philippines. “We had over a hundred million unique authors of tweets around gaming and e-sports in these five or six markets. We call them the bulk of Southeast Asia’s market. 250 million tweets in the last few months, only about gaming. That is just one example of the kind of growth that we have seen around that,” Gujral explained.
The high volume of conversations and interactions on the platform not only gives Twitter a competitive edge, but also creates numerous opportunities for new and old businesses in the consumer space. Yet, Gujral believes that the market of information is large enough to accommodate other players.
“I think all platforms have a role. Twitter has its own role. It is a unique role. Telegram, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, they all have their own roles to play and people go to each platform for its own unique value proposition.”
While audience and revenue growth this year has been stellar, Gujral noted that the quality of growth is even more important going forward. He coined this as the “health of a conversation on the platform.”
“We extend our responsibility to make sure we give accurate information and not allow the spread of bad information on the platform. As long as we are doing that, every other metric is secondary,” he said.
Muscle memory, speed
While no organization can rightfully predict what lies ahead, we can certainly learn from events that have happened in 2020. “There are new things we discovered given what happened during the year, and that is creating new muscle memory for the organization,” Gujral said.
Companies may not be able to control political unrests and global macroeconomic trends, but they can certainly devise frameworks to better prepare themselves for uncertainties.
For Gujral, indecision is worse than making the wrong decision. He believes that it is absolutely critical for every organization to have a cross-functional task force, equipped with an executable framework and good “muscle memory,” to speed up the decision-making process in any crisis.
In the case of Twitter, even while the overall gross domestic product (GDP) within the Southeast Asia region may have decreased, there were still bright spots in which the company has benefited by successfully pivoting on the right side of the economy, Gujral noted.
In terms of harnessing technology for growth, Adobe is employing Sensei, a cloud service that connects all of Adobe’s tools, combining artificial intelligence for automating some tech processes and human processes to enhance the marketing workflow. While a large part involves automating huge chunks of data and iterative testing, Dale pointed out that years of experience from an industry practitioner remains the key to delivering that last-mile solution for achieving revenues.
“Some of it can be automated, but some of it still requires a really intimate understanding of your customer. Do you know your customer segments? Do you know what kind of promotions you want to map in those segments?”