Asia houses more than 4.5 billion people; this makes it the world's most populated continent, which roughly accounts for 2/3 of the global residents. In the last epochs, Asia has witnessed an incredible technological uproar with relatively stable economies. Also, the GDP growth in various regions' economies surpasses the ones from Western countries. Furthermore, a recent report predicts that the Asian economies are likely to be larger than the rest of the world combined in 2020. Thus, Asia's accelerated economic growth and stability are vital reasons for it to be considered as a huge opportunity to expand abroad.
In the last six decades, Asia has undergone spectacular economic growth and has turned to be a breeding ground for innovative, fast-moving, and competitive businesses. Ever since 1960, Asia has grown richer swiftly compared to other regions of the world.
Certainly, this growth has not occurred at the same pace all over the continent. The eastern part of the continent and, more precisely, China, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam have been championing economic growth. Likewise, nations like Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos are now budding as promising growth opportunities in the near term.
It is obvious that one may venture afar to the Promised Land to develop a business that resonates with the essence of exponential leadership. Since 2000, Asia's upswing has been one of the astonishing economic stories of the 21st century. In the initial days of millennials, China was a $1.2 trillion economy; if one merged China with India and Indonesia, it could be noted that it still had a GDP that was less than a tenth of the G7's. Presently, the GDP of China alone is approximately $15 trillion, and India and the countries of Southeast Asia have arched much higher positions among world economies.
In 2000, at least 1 in every 20 Fortune 500 companies was built in Asia, and only one of every nine patents approved globally was to an Asian company. This would have been difficult to calculate the Western-to-Asian ratio of unicorns - a proxy for the dynamism of a region's startup sector—as Asia had no unicorns. Currently, Mainland China alone has several companies than the US in the Fortune 500. Budding Asia (China, India, and Southeast Asia) has various companies emerging much faster than Western companies. And Asia has turned home to one-third of the world's unicorns.
Alongside, Singapore which has an immensely business-friendly atmosphere and access to venture capital, is Southeast Asia's core nervous system for startups. After launching in the island nation, firms could then test their products in tech-savvy Malaysia before scaling up to reach the 350 million people in Indonesia and the Philippines, the latter also a prime destination for setting up service and delivery centers. Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia are coming into focus as well.
The Tale of China
China has been witnessing a transition in economies and has been moving away from the manufacturing center of the other countries in a period of constant high growth to one driven specifically by the internal consumer and service-driven market. China is observed a slow-down in the swift growth they've witnessed for many years, and resultant the business perspective is changing from a battle for market growth to a battle for market share.
Post the second industrial revolt, the key drivers for the emergence of different industries were solely from the supply side: manufacturing products economically, with regular, precision processes. The consumer or their demand sets the trend. The industry has evolved from focusing on how you make it to offering consumers a complete solution: combining different industries to manufacture a finished good or a better consumer experience to meet my need.
Contending with this change demands an entirely different approach to leadership and human capital. As a business in Asia continues to transform, so must its leadership. If you look at the great companies, they could hire, train and mentor the best leaders that differentiate them. It's the human capital element.
Ding speaks of the value of courage. Leaders are conscious of the urgency to change, but the change means the leader at the top and the senior leadership team are required to admit they are no longer that valuable to the company. So for a change, leaders may dismiss themselves—and that is unpleasant. It is unusual to find a leader who dares to make decisions against their self-interest—it needs enormous confidence to act against their human nature.
Understanding some prejudice as the rest of the world looks at the sudden rise of business in Asia, it could be said that, when one picks up the Harvard Business Review or the McKinsey Quarterly and one considers business and how the business works, it's a Western model—Asia has that heterogeneity of culture and thousands of years of history to be able to create ideas and ways of doing business that is Asia-centric. I think the rest of the world wants to consider what Asia is doing instead of just reflecting the Western model.
What's the contrast? In Asia, one spends more time maintaining their opportunities than managing your business in a high-growth atmosphere. In the West, all it needs is to spend all the time managing the business and barely any time managing your opportunities.However, at the pace at which business is administered in Asia, there's not a sense of seriousness from businesses in Europe that we deal with, wherein people prefer to work very fast to catch up.
The approach by and large in Asia is that tomorrow is going to be better than today, so people are keen to progress, put in efforts, and capture opportunity. There's more than enough capital chasing business ideas today, and there is so much disruption! There are enormous business opportunities. And whether it's in the digital world or the traditional world, in the industrial economy, the family-run business, or an MNC conglomerate, the capacity to harness human capital would be the difference.