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How cloud is a liberating force for Asia’s global companies

Kenny MacIver – August 2015

Across Asia, business ecosystems are being built around new, globally focused technology platforms — with cloud as the fundamental enabler — highlights Fujitsu’s Dr Martin Schulz.

Companies throughout Asia are on the cusp of an unprecedented business opportunity: to create and exploit a new wave of Internet-based platforms that will not only reinvigorate growth in the region, but help to unlock unfulfilled globalization ambitions.

That’s the insider’s view from Dr Martin Schulz, who tracks global economic trends from a technology perspective at the Fujitsu Research Institute, a privately funded Tokyo-based think-thank. And he observes that this is one technology shift that Asian companies have no intention of missing out on.

As he highlights in our exclusive video, the last big wave of technology to drive globalization and operational efficiency — integrated business applications packages that spanned ERP, sales automation, HR and supply chain management — was almost universally applied by US and European companies, but “never really took root in Asia.”

In contrast, companies in Asia today are actively embracing Internet technologies to establish new platforms, marketplaces and services that have global reach — from the platforms created by companies such as China’s Alibaba or Japan’s Rakuten to the agricultural, urban management and industrial cloud ecosystems being build by technology leaders such as Fujitsu

“Asia will be transformed by the new cloud-based global platforms that are being implemented at a speed we’ve never seen before.”

“Internet-based business platforms are already booming and being implemented in Asia at a speed we have never seen before,” says Dr Schulz. By many measures, this is “the ‘next big thing’ for Asia, with technology transforming the region at a completely different level to the booms of earlier decades.”

There are some fundamental technology models underpinning that – cloud and open integration. As Dr Schulz is observing first-hand, cloud is already having a liberating effect on business in Asia. “What companies in Asia are focusing on and are preparing for is moving industry into the cloud, onto open platforms, and operating on a much more global level.

In countries such as Japan, where Dr Schulz has spent two decades advising on economic policy, this is becoming a key component in supporting companies’ global ambitions. “Moving to the cloud will probably be the most important step we have seen in decades,” he argues.
Breaking down global barriers

Japanese companies, in particular — from the automotive industry to the semiconductor sector — have been highly successful in establishing organizational processes and systems that deliver world-beating operational efficiency. But in terms of truly opening up global markets, Dr Schulz says many have struggled. “They have mostly been focusing on their internal business models and expanding globally through [local] partnerships.” In a digital era, they now need to become truly global entities, he argues.

“The new Internet-based platforms, supply chain and consumer models are open models. So the question is how do these Asian companies get to the next wave of globalization? That will be by putting businesses and their systems in the cloud. That will be the biggest trigger for companies in Asia to move ahead, to expand and to break down barriers to globalization.”
Securing access to new markets

Operating from  cloud platforms makes businesses more open, says Dr Schulz. It allows them to connect to partners and open up to customers and supply chains more freely, he says — but to do so in a secure, robust way.

“Companies need to make sure that their Internet-based platforms and processes are safe and secure, and able to open up so they can build interfaces to global markets.” He highlights how companies such as Fujitsu are already enabling these moves by supporting standards-based cloud integration and hybrid IT models that allow organizations to blend private and public clouds with on-premise and traditional technology infrastructure.

“That is making it possible for industries in Asia to get onto these new platforms, into new global markets, and move to the next growth level,” concludes Dr Schulz.

• Dr Martin Schulz will be speaking on ‘Improving Society through Technology — the Japanese Way’ at Fujitsu Forum 2015 in Munich (18-19 Nov).

First published
August 2015
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About: Dr Martin Schulz
A senior economist at the Fujitsu Research Institute — the think-tank of ICT group Fujitsu — Dr Martin Schulz looks at Asia’s economic trends from a technology perspective. Based in Tokyo for the past 20 years, Dr Schulz explores the nexus of macroeconomics and corporate strategy.

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