As more and more companies in Vietnam and across the globe realize the importance of digital transformation and the need to innovate, the focus is on customer interface in the new age. On January 21, Vietcetera, with AIA Vietnam and KPMG in Vietnam organized the third of the four webinars, Shaping The Future In The Digital Age: Digital Advantage & Transformation to highlight key factors businesses should keep in mind in their digital transformation process.
In this webinar, host and Vietcetera CEO Hao Tran led in-depth discussions with panelists who are experts in the field: Bill Nguyen (Chief Technology Officer, AIA Vietnam), Yann Rousselot-Pailley (Director, Digital Innovation, KPMG in Vietnam), and Mark Morawski (Chief Technology Officer, ZaloPay).
Missed this session? Read the summary or listen to the webinar recording below.
The advantages of innovation ecosystems in an age of disruption
With their priority on collaborating to build ecosystems, guest speaker Bill Nguyen of AIA Vietnam shared some of the prominent partnerships the firm has built. While the company connects with businesses from various fields, as a financial services provider, AIA Vietnam seeks partners first of all in the tech industry to aid the company in its digital transformation process. “Digital transformation comes with a lot of mindset shifts,” Bill believed.
“We are not doing digital transformation based on the current atmosphere,” he said. “We are doing digital transformation with regard to how you see yourself over the next three to five years.” In addition to the IT sector, the AIA Vietnam ecosystem consists notably of Tiki, one of the leading ecommerce platforms in Vietnam, as well as banks and other partners with large customer portfolios.
Upon discussing innovation, Yann Rousselot-Pailley of KPMG in Vietnam first clarified the important distinction between innovation and research and development. “Innovation is not R&D. R&D is to transform money into new knowledge, but innovation is to transform new knowledge into value, so it’s exactly the opposite,” Yann emphasized.
“So when you are talking about innovation, what you are trying to do actually, is to make a new process, a new product or service being adopted by the market or the customers. R&D is different, it’s introducing a new technology, for instance.”
To Yann, getting customers to adopt new behaviors is the most challenging part of the innovation process. This is where experts in the field are needed, “not because we are more innovative, but because we have the techniques to make people’s mindset to shift,” Yann said.
Yann believed it is the people factor that really matters, not businesses’ choice of whether to partner or to build an ecosystem from scratch. He advised on proceeding with a partnership if companies are targeting another market or customer segment where communities are already built and developed, and to build an ecosystem if they have the human resources to do so.
“So it’s not about technology actually. It’s about people. So to push people in the direction, the desirable future that you want, it’s more of a social science than a technological science,” he explained. To accomplish this goal, AIA Vietnam and CTO Bill Nguyen “worked hand in hand, making sure that the digital transformation will not only be digitalization.”
Mark Morawski of ZaloPay, described how his company benefits from a growing VNG corporation ecosystem. “Whether it's the scale of systems like Zalo, whether it’s new technologies, new incubators that are happening, we get to be partners with a group of people that are either thinking about the problems, or have solved it, in some cases,” Mark shared.
Customer-oriented innovations and ecosystems
For AIA Vietnam, the top three factors for selecting partners are good technology; customer experience, or the question of how to create a seamless experience for users; and the value the organization can offer to their partners and customers. He also underscored the business aspect and vision a CTO should keep in mind, as “most of us here are doing business as well, not only the technology side.”
Using Airbus as an example of a successful ecosystem, Yann highlighted the role of the customer or user in the process. “At Airbus, for a long time, they were looking for ideas. Now they are looking for users’ desires. When you put the user at the center of your conception, and when you even think that the user becomes the conceptor of your future products, everything is simpler,” Yann said.
The key to any successful innovation, Yann believed, is whether it will align with users’ vision and therefore be adopted. At AIA Vietnam, to ensure that innovation moves in the right direction, the firm asks questions and looks for improvements that clients expect to see. From this foundation, new technologies, business models and even ecosystems will be implemented.
For ZaloPay, the platform has benefited from Zalo’s connection with a large database of customers. “To be digitally transformed, you absolutely have to be customer-centric. It is at the core of anything that we do,” Mark emphasized. “So as we look at our ecosystem, what we essentially have with Zalo is a differentiator of marketplace.”
With buyers and sellers from partner ecosystems like ecommerce platforms or banks, ZaloPay has gained the competitive advantage as the broker between sellers and buyers with valuable customer-centric insights, he said.
Growth opportunities from innovation
When discussing growth opportunities for AIA Vietnam, Bill saw the lockdown period that disrupted economic activities as a chance for the organization to transform. With the tools and technologies ready, AIA Vietnam embraced the changes with a remote platform that helps maintain customer-business connection in times when face-to-face interactions were nearly impossible.
At the same time, the CTO of AIA Vietnam underlined readiness, especially technological preparation, as one of the crucial components that companies should keep in mind when faced with changes.
“When business is ready, one of the key components that we get is a much faster decision making process,” Bill stressed. “In this environment, lots of expectations from the customer side are changing. Technology is always evolving, the customer is changing, so to be able to have this kind of growth opportunity, you should be ready first.”
When working with larger ecosystems and partners, host Hao Tran asked KPMG’s Yann, how does the firm determine its growth trajectory? In order to utilize businesses’ innovation management process, Yann recommended that companies visualize the possible scenarios of growth and determine the predictable actors and viables in the process before putting in the work.
“Each time you do a loop in your innovation management process, you’re wasting time, wasting money and losing your competitive advantage. So reducing the gap between what you want to do and where you start is the best way to reach your goal faster, and reaching your goal faster means you have more chances of adoption,” he advised.
With regard to the timing of innovation processes, Yann urged organizations to start as soon as possible using a top-down approach. By doing so, the related parties in the process, including the organization’s employees, current and future customers will have the chance to align with the firm’s objectives and to adapt to changes.
Looking at the growth opportunities for ZaloPay, Mark said he believed that the company is moving in the direction of “removing the friction in the customer experience,” making people’s lives easier. With that goal in mind, ZaloPay has seen immense development in Vietnam in adopting features like topping up mobile devices using customers’ wallet balance, or assisting them in their billing tasks with reminders to pay bills.
“Our ultimate job as a product company is to solve the problems for customers,” Mark explained. When it comes to ZaloPay’s partnerships, “it’s really the partner ecosystems around ZaloPay that help us support our users as well.”