How cloud is shaping the Asia of tomorrow


13 September 2016
Cecily Ng of Salesforce

There has been a lot of talk about how we are at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a time in which technology will change every aspect of how we live.

While buzz words and trends come and go, I genuinely believe we are seeing the start of a new era where cloud-based, mobile technology will fundamentally change everything. Smartphones, wearables, subscription-based entertainment, and an endless selection of apps have changed how we work, play and stay in touch.

However, the benefits of this cloud-enabled age go beyond just greater productivity and convenience for the individual. It is creating growth and innovation for the nation, and helping Asia thrive on the global stage. Across the region, Asian governments are looking at smart city initiatives, a result of increasing connectivity and convenience from the cloud. These initiatives offer new job opportunities, exciting careers, and help provide solid livelihoods.

What is behind this growth? It’s everywhere – from the smallest startups to the largest enterprises in Asia. Asia is primed as the fastest growing mobile app development market – a fact that is not surprising with the cloud profoundly changing the way apps are developed and deployed. Today, the cloud provides platforms that make building great apps more about clicks than code, and marketplaces that offer a chance for developers to reach a network of customers overnight.

Within Salesforce’s own ecosystem, Singapore-based TradeGecko is a great example of a company building and growing their businesses by developing innovative apps that help commercial customers boost productivity.

Companies like these have emerged as critical parts of a broader cloud market in Asia. From a Salesforce perspective, they help us ensure our customers are getting the most value, so it’s key we support them. In fact, Salesforce Ventures has recently invested in cloud startups including NewVoiceMedia, Qubit and DigitalGenius – all leaders that are helping shape the global app economy.

Of course, consumer-driven businesses have been jumping into the cloud to gain market advantage. Companies like Shopline and ReferralCandy, both technology-enabled startups, have shaken up entire sectors by offering services and value completely aligned to what today’s “connected consumers” want.

These disruptive offerings simply would not have been possible before the advent of the cloud. Asia players like Maserati China and the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology rely on the always-on scalability of the cloud to help support their rapid growth whilst creating personalised engagement with all of their stakeholders.

Quite simply: the cloud lets SMBs punch way above their weight and grow faster than ever before.

For larger-scale enterprises, leveraging the cloud lets IT departments move away from just ‘keeping the lights on’ and maintaining on-premise legacy systems. Instead, businesses can focus on driving innovation that helps their companies move faster, better serve customers and expand their products and services to create new and unique offerings.

No more silos

Cloud also means the end to information silos – because all the data is accessible, organisations can now better share information and collaborate across departments. Companies can now take advantage of – or even build their own – business applications to improve virtually every facet of their business.

Helping create efficiencies and improve front-line services, the cloud really helps organisations do more with less, and that can result in tremendously positive impact for people in Asia. One iconic brand that is taking advantage of the opportunities cloud offers is Changi Airport. Changi Airport implemented an app, OneChangi, that lets its staff assist people more efficiently, and consolidates feedback collected from airport customers via touch-points including websites, emails, the Changi Airport contact centre and instant feedback systems located across the airport terminals. The information is shared with airport partners and tenants, allowing them to process and track feedback that relates to their own operations.

There is another way the tech industry is changing the country for the better, and that is around giving back. Some of the biggest headlines around philanthropy come from the generosity of prominent tech leaders. However, it is so much more than just big individual donors. The fact is, the talent behind many of the most promising tech companies today want more than quick profits. They want to feel like they are making a real difference in the world. takes an integrated approach to giving back, pledging Salesforce’s technology, people and resources to benefit our communities. This integrated approach to giving back is so impactful because the technology and the tech expertise our industry has to offer can make such a profound difference to non-profit organisations.

For example, Liberty Asia, an organisation that aims to provide resources towards the fight against human trafficking uses technology to develop a victim case management system, believed to be the first in Asia. As a beneficiary, Liberty Asia uses cloud technology to give those affected by human trafficking an identity – helping keep a record, introducing structure and playing a part in reducing and preventing their exploitation.

It is amazing to think that not too long along, cloud computing was a novel concept and one that was actually fairly controversial. Certainly, there was worry that it could ultimately take jobs away – improving efficiencies in such a way that the need for human talent would be reduced. Clearly, that hasn’t happened yet – nor is it likely to and looking toward the future, for Asian businesses in the cloud, it’s exciting times. The sky’s no longer the limit – it’s just the start of success for Asian businesses.

Cecily Ng is Area Vice President, Enterprise Business, Asia, Salesforce.