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Adele Yim from Mazars in Hong Kong joins HKB Technology Excellence Awards’ roster of judges for 2021

The Partner and Head of Risk Advisory Services at Mazars in Hong Kong believes that the COVID-19 has redefined work behaviours and accelerated the adoption of automation.

Adele Yim is a Partner and Head of Risk Advisory Services at Mazars in Hong Kong. She has more than 15 years of experience combining external audit, management accounting, operations management, internal control review, ESG reporting, and enterprise risk assessment.

Prior to joining Mazars in Hong Kong, she was a Director of Risk Advisory Service in a leading accounting firm. Adele joined one of the Big Four for a few years after her graduation, where she was responsible for supervising auditors in a number of systems reviews and audit assignments for both listed companies, large private enterprises, as well as listing candidates (i.e. IPO assignments). Adele also worked in the commercial field at the internal audit department of a large hotel group and a large property development company in Hong Kong.

As someone who likes to keep abreast of the latest technological trends, Adele has seen firsthand how the COVID-19 pandemic has redefined work behaviours and accelerated the adoption of automation and new technologies for Hong Kong businesses, not just today, but in the next coming years. She also shares her insights about recovering from the pandemic, digital transformation during the pandemic, trends in Hong Kong’s business scene, and more importantly, the winning factors she looks for as one of the judges for the Hong Kong Business Awards this year.

Which trends do you think will define Hong Kong businesses in the years to come?

The COVID-19 has rapidly changed the way we live and our work behaviours. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working was introduced and encouraged. Shopping and entertainment went online. Companies begin to adopt digital and automation technologies to cope with such changes. This trend is likely to outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 redefines work behaviours and accelerates the adoption of automation and new technologies for Hong Kong businesses in the years to come.

  • Remote work and videoconferencing are likely to be continued. To cope with safety measures including social distancing, border restrictions, and quarantine and isolation measures undertaken in various countries, remote work and virtual meetings are encouraged and likely to continue. Some companies have planned to shift to flexible workspaces after positive experiences with remote work during the pandemic. 
  • Accelerate the adoption of automation. Work processes are redesigned to adopt automation and AI to not only enhance efficiency and potentially reduce cost, but also to cope with the consumer’s increasing demand. During these abnormal times, companies are less hesitant to step up investments in automation and AI to develop business digital platforms, such as online doctor consultation, online shopping, and automation meal supply, etc., thus delivering these solutions to meet customer’s demand.

Almost all industries in Hong Kong have been severely affected by the pandemic. What's your advice to those who are in the early stages of recovery?

As mentioned above, the pandemic redefined working norms and strategies businesses adopt. All industries are figuring out their “next normal”.

It is recommended for companies in the early stages of recovery to rethink their positions, redesign their procedures, and embrace the change.

  • Rethink their positions. Companies may need to re-identify their competitive advantages, rethink their revenue profiles, and prioritize revenue opportunities. Companies may need to adjust their pricing and promotions strategies; reallocate resources; coach sales force to conduct remote selling; and digitise sales channels, etc. to align with their revenue opportunities and competitive advantages.
  • Redesign their procedures. Companies may consider to redesign their business procedures by developing a fast and responsive operating model to timely react to urgencies, allowing quicker decision making in order to meet the ever-changing demand.
  • Embrace the change. Companies may consider embracing change in new automation and emerging technology. Putting efforts on digital development and accelerating digitisation will significantly benefit productivity and flexibility in business operations. Besides, companies should also consider the adoption of scalable digital solutions to meet the growth of consumer demands. In addition, utilizing real-time data and data analytics also enable companies to improve the quality and accuracy of the decision-making process.

Many experts are espousing digital transformation as the key action that will keep businesses afloat during and after the pandemic. But is there a possibility that it can also be a hindrance--much less an added problem--to their survival and progress?

  • The digital transformations do benefit companies in terms of improving productivity, convenience, efficiency, and innovation.
  • Safety can also be enhanced by automating traditional labour-intensive processes in hazardous working environments.
  • However, digital transformations may also lead to uneven economic recovery along with a rising disparity among the labour force. Companies with digital capabilities and/or sufficient resources are likely to prevail in this pandemic. Likewise, the labour force unable to adapt to such rapid changes may find it difficult to survive.
  • As noted during the digital transformation brought forth by the pandemic, convenience has only benefited those who are tech-savvy. Certain population groups can be seen as neglected from such changes. Hence, it is often difficult to strike a balance for companies to offer products and services to the wider population.  
  • While automation and AI can be seen to enhance a business’ competitive advantage, this may not apply to all businesses and a comprehensive cost and benefit analysis is required. 
  • Besides the initial set-up cost, companies should also consider future ongoing maintenance and upkeep costs. 
  • While considering the benefits automation and digitalisation could bring, companies should also weigh in considerations on cybersecurity risks and regulations governing data privacy in jurisdictions it operates in. There should be proper compliance with these regulations to avoid adverse implications to the business/operations. 

What key factors are you looking for when judging who should win?

The key factors should be considered as below:

  • Whether the project/ product/ service displays a remarkable or unique innovation;
  • Whether the project/ product/ service could support among individual, organizational, and social improvement at scale;
  • Whether the project/ product/ service could provide an effective and credible solution to the society;
  • Whether the project/product/service could provide remarkable user experiences.
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