6 Degrees of Innovation: Traits that drive business success in Asia

  • China, India and other developing economies could account for nearly 70 percent of global demand for manufactured goods by 2025.

  • Dramatic income growth in Asian markets creates a vast and diverse new middle class.

What makes a company successful at innovation?

To find out, AT&T commissioned a study from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. Its author, Stelios Kavadias, professor of Enterprise Studies in Innovation & Growth, found six traits successful innovators share. The study suggests that one or all of these “Six Degrees of Innovation” can help any company transform its business model and be more competitive.

That’s good news for us in Asia Pacific. In our region, market demand and advances in technology converge. It’s the perfect climate for innovation.

Growing demand

Global demand is rising and shifting eastward. The study found that China, India and other developing economies could account for nearly 70 percent of global demand for manufactured goods by 2025. That’s up from 30 percent today. This shift will drive demand for urban infrastructure and new services.

Dramatic income growth in these Asian markets creates a vast and diverse new middle class. The study claims 60 percent of households with incomes over US$20,000 will likely be in developing economies.

Who better to serve these new customers than the global companies that know them best?

Exciting technology advances

Technology provides one key advantage for multinational companies. It puts them at the forefront of tech trends like mobile Internet, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data.

These tools and more help companies grow. They help them create disruptive new business models, improve processes and tailor their offers. Consider the connected car. AT&T already delivers in-car entertainment and satellite navigation. Now we can link to automakers for remote diagnostics and even to home-automation services. This paves the way to cars that can talk to each other. It may even lead to safer self-driving cars.

The Six Degrees of Innovation

How can your company take advantage of these trends?

The Six Degrees of Innovation report details six patterns seen in the most innovative companies. You can use these traits to adapt your business model and adopt the technology you need to innovate and succeed.

These shared patterns are:

  1. Tailor products and services to customers’ individual needs. We’ve seen this at the Developers’ Day competitions for app developers in Kuala Lumpur and Manila the past three years. For the region’s young entrepreneurs, creating personalized mobile apps for Asian consumers is a winning formula.
  1. Minimize waste and manage resource costs to boost sustainability.
    Many global energy providers use meters, typically linked to the IoT, to let customers manage electricity use. New water monitoring solutions use sensors and wireless tech to find leaky pipes, stopping the waste of precious water.
  1. Jointly own assets, such as peer-to-peer businesses.
    Need a car? There’s an app for that! And it’s one of the best examples of the “sharing economy” in Asia. Mobility and connectivity lets customers connect with drivers when and where they need a ride.
  1. Pay only for services used.
    Many fitness startups in Asia use this innovative model. People don’t buy a membership to a single fitness studio. Instead, they pay a fixed monthly fee to use a wide range of local gyms and other fitness providers.
  1. Effectively monitor supply chains.
    This may involve handheld tracking systems or IoT solutions. For example, AT&T lets companies remotely monitor valuable cargo in transit. Lightweight sensors monitor temperature, pressure, light, location and shock levels to lower the risk of damage, loss or theft.
  1. Use data to easily adapt to customer needs.
    A clothing retailer, for example, might use customer feedback to tweak its designs. A healthcare provider could integrate patient records to eliminate needless tests. Data analytics already drive change in the high-octane world of Formula One racing. Infiniti Red Bull Racing uses advanced analytics and mobile communications to refine the design of their F1 car throughout the season. They can even boost its performance during each race.

You can view the full report, an infographic of the key findings and executive video responses here.

*Some of the Asian examples in this article are not included in the report.

Bernard Yee Regional President - Asia Pacific AT&T Global Service About Bernard