INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Matty Kaffeman

How can Hong Kong be APAC's digital leader?


Hong Kong is emerging as a digitally sophisticated nation being named by The Digital Evolution Index, the third most advanced digital economy in APAC, and the ninth in the world. The city was named as one of just 10 digital elites, characterised by high levels of digital development and a fast rate of digital evolution.

Further, according to the Asian Digital Transformation Index, Hong Kong is recognised as one of the top thriving economies thanks to new-age, digital capabilities– only behind Singapore, South Korea, and Japan. It’s predicted that digital transformation will add $70.6b (US$9b) to Hong Kong’s GDP in the next three years, and increase the economic growth rate by 0.5% every year. Digital technologies such as cloud computing, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence contributed only 5% to Hong Kong’s GDP last year, and is expected to grow in value by a whopping 60% by 2021.

If that doesn’t paint a clear enough picture, another telling sign that Hong Kong is a digitally ready nation is that consumers are themselves adjusting rapidly to a digital future. Additional research conducted by Verint and Opinium Research LLC, drawing on interviews with more than 2,000 people in Hong Kong, show that Hong Kongers are more comfortable than their regional neighbours having their enquiries attended to digitally. Whilst they like to speak to someone in person or on the phone for support at times (55%), this will drop to 50% in the next 5 years when 1 in 2 customers will turn to pure digital channels for support include AI-driven technologies, chatbots and virtual personal assistants.

Hong Kong is digitally advanced in the region but trails Singapore in the digital race
So when it comes to digital adoption and transformation, it is extremely encouraging to see Hong Kong emerge as one the world’s most digitally ready and advanced nations, often beating the US in various rankings. However, Hong Kong continues to trail Singapore in almost every area.

For example, according to IMD’s World Competitiveness Rankings report, Hong Kong held on to second place overall, helped by a benign tax and business policy environment and access to business finance, and was a top performer across government efficiency and business efficiency, however that wasn’t good enough to topple Singapore from its first place ranking.

Whilst Verint’s research found that Hong Kong is up there amongst the region’s top performing digital nations when it comes to customer experience, it is a different story when it comes to attitudes towards digital technology in the changing workplace. Workers in Hong Kong aren’t always as willing to embrace new technology and ways of working to be more as their counterparts across the region – particularly in Singapore and India.

When it comes to automated processes used in the workplace, Hong Kong is significantly below both the global and APAC average (both 52%) with only 44% of survey respondents acknowledging that automated processes are used. The adoption of automated processes is in fact well behind India (72%), Singapore (58%) and Australia (48%).

Interestingly, more than 1 in 2 workers in Hong Kong are not worried about robots taking over their jobs, and 57% think that technology is a good thing. Despite this, a large majority of Hong Kong workers (43%) are less willing to try new technology and ways of working in order to be more efficient or productive; this is higher than the global (37%) and APAC average (38%).

This raises a few questions: what is holding companies back from driving digital transformation to another level? How do companies accelerate digital adoption? And how can Hong Kong become the digital leader in the region?

The answer: Hybrid workforces – the new competitive digital battlefield
As already established, in this new era of accelerated digital economic growth workforces need to fundamentally change in response to rapid technological advances. There is growing urgency for businesses to reshape their workforces in a way that seamlessly integrates smart technologies whilst building talent through skills development to ensure every job is a better job, every worker is a better worker and every customer experience is a better experience.

Currently the attitude amongst workplaces in Hong Kong doesn’t appear to be as mature as that of her regional neighbours, so the opportunity for Hong Kong is to now accelerate its adoption of hybrid workforces, boost the digital skills of the workforce and change the mindset around technology adoption and promote technology’s seamless integration with human talent.

This speaks to the introduction of a hybrid workforce. A hybrid workforce is where technology is integrated into the workforce and balanced with matching talent. It is where certain jobs are automated to create greater efficiencies, allowing human talent to shift towards more value-adding tasks whilst creating greater value in the organisation.

There are typically 3 key steps companies need to undertake when implementing a hybrid workforce:

  • Firstly, understand the impact of digital transformation on the business
  • Then define the impact of digital technologies on your overall workforce requirements
  • And have a plan in place to optimise workforce development to meet your future digital needs

To get a head and cement its position as a digital leader in the region, companies in Hong Kong need to adopt some version of a hybrid workforce where technologies work in tandem with talent in the business. The chief experience officer (CXO) and other senior leaders need to collectively determine the best hybrid workforce make-up which could include range of smart technologies including self-service technologies matched with appropriate skills and talent.

Hong Kong businesses must review their approach to workforce planning in the year ahead. They must invest in digital skills and capability development, focus on empowering employees with the right technologies that make life easier, and ensure that they are trained in the new way of doing things.

The opportunity to act quickly and become the true digital leader in the region. 

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Matty Kaffeman

Matty Kaffeman

Matty Kaffeman, the Vice President for North Asia and Korea at Verint, is a business technology leader with more than 20 years of experience in the global IT industry. He has a solid track record of leading businesses and developing and enhancing IT sales both direct and via channel partners, as well as excellent presentation and customer-facing skills.

His experience spans a diverse range of sectors from Automation, Enterprise Management, Security, Workload Automation and Software Development tools, and he has a deep knowledge of APJ Markets.

Before joining Verint, Matty held Sales management roles in CA Technologies, Rogue Wave Software and BMC Software driving revenue growth and through strategic relationships with Value Added Resellers.

Matty holds B.A. in Computer Science and Economics as well as LL.B. degrees from Tel Aviv University.

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