Welcome to another edition of Fast Five - our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exceptional business leaders five simple questions to get a glimpse behind-the-scenes of Australia’s most exciting operations.
This week, we spoke to ZACK Group Director and Head of APAC Expansion, Colin Kleine to share his wealth of experience and knowledge about what it takes for a business to expand in the APAC region.
As a Management Consultancy firm helping Pre-IPO Tech Companies to land,
expand and scale in Asia Pacific, ZACK Group is at the forefront of seizing the opportunities that have arisen out of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
#1: In what way is the Asia Pacific region evolving and how can Victorian businesses benefit?
APAC has handled COVID-19 better than any other region on the planet (think Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Vietnam etc.). Due to this there is unparalleled interest for US, European, Israeli (and elsewhere) companies to skip investing in the Northern Hemisphere as they typically would have done and spend their money in APAC instead.
This means two things: If Victoria positions itself as a safe pair of hands (like how Sydney and Singapore have), then we will see an unprecedented amount of international investment which means jobs, opportunities and economic growth.
Secondly, Victorian businesses will have a tremendous opportunity to tap into the economic boom of Asia.
#2: While the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted international supply chains, what new opportunities have arisen?
On a geopolitical level, nations such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore used their experience handling SARS and Swine Flu to be the absolute gold-standard in managing the health risk of COVID-19 and keeping their economies going. These nations are seeing excellent economic growth, and international investment interest which provides a huge opportunity for Australian businesses.
There is also a substantial interest to invest in tech following the Federal Government’s announcement of $1.2 billion in spending on digital transformation.
Technology will continue to boom in 2021, and in my opinion, the technologies with the most promise are healthtech, eLearning, anything around online collaboration (think Zoom or Monday.com), AI, eBanking and Fintech, and Cybersecurity.
I also believe co-working spaces will see unparalleled growth as many companies will refrain from locking themselves into a fixed location given the rise of working from home routines.
#3: What advice would you give a small business looking to expand into Asia Pacific?
Do it! There has never been a better opportunity for you to do so. The rest of the world will have a slower economic recovery while new businesses can expect Asia to continue booming, why not invest where the growth areas are?
Self-interest aside, I recommend speaking with myself, my team, the Victorian Chamber or even the likes of Austrade for guidance. APAC is booming, but it is still an extremely complex region with many languages, cultures, regulations and potential trip-ups.
We can guide you on which countries to focus on, help you establish legal entities, recruit your team (one that knows how to launch a start up in APAC), help you find channel partners, systems integrators and help you obtain government funding.
#4: What does the future of digital technologies look like for business?
You can comfortably expect the following to be the future of digital technologies for business:
- Any technology aimed at improving productivity and allowing collaboration whilst working remote will continue to grow: Zoom, Monday.com, Asana and the likes are here to stay.
- Automation will continue to grow. Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing have all seen enormous growth in the past three years with no sign of slowing down.
- Given we just went through one of the greatest health challenges in history, you can expect more and more advancements in healthcare technology.
- Business simply needs to go online. eCommerce boomed last year, and at a time when we cannot travel, it is imperative to be connected digitally.
#5: What excites you about the future?
Combining the economic boom of Asia, the strong desire for digital transformation, to improve inefficiencies and of course the evidence that the countries that handled COVID-19 the best did so using AI for their contract tracing; for this I am excited about the new technologies that will be created.
With that in mind, companies from the Northern Hemisphere will be looking at Asia as their first stop for global expansion.
If Australia adapts to a changing world in tech and taps into the APAC economic boom (which we are), I think Australia will be a posterchild for how to handle a pandemic.
This in turn means jobs, investment, and a rapidly advancing Australia. Long may that continue.