Survey: Asia is on the cusp of a new era

HONG KONG  – The world is changing rapidly, and Asia is at the center of many of these changes. As the region becomes more influential and interconnected, it also faces new challenges and uncertainties. How can Asia’s business leaders navigate this complex and evolving landscape?

To answer this question, the Asia Business Council, in collaboration with McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), conducted a survey of its members, who are CEOs and chairpersons of some of Asia’s leading companies. The survey aimed to capture their views on the opportunities and risks for Asia in the coming decade, as well as their strategies and priorities for the future.

The survey results reveal that Asia’s business leaders are optimistic about the region’s prospects, but also aware of the potential pitfalls. They see Asia as a source of growth, innovation, and talent, but also as a region that needs to address its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) challenges, cope with geopolitical tensions, and adapt to technological disruptions.

Some key findings of the survey are:

– Asia’s business leaders expect the region to continue to outperform the rest of the world in terms of economic growth, with China and India leading the way. They also expect Asia to play a bigger role in shaping global rules and norms, as well as in advancing regional cooperation and integration.

– Asia’s business leaders see innovation as a key driver of growth and competitiveness for their companies and the region. They plan to invest more in research and development (R&D), digital transformation, and new business models. They also recognize the importance of developing and attracting talent, especially in areas such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), digital skills, and leadership.

– Asia’s business leaders are committed to improving their ESG performance, both for ethical reasons and for business benefits. They see ESG as a way to enhance their reputation, attract customers and investors, reduce costs and risks, and create positive social impact. They are taking actions such as reducing their carbon footprint, increasing their use of renewable energy, improving their labor standards, and supporting social causes.

– Asia’s business leaders are concerned about the rising geopolitical uncertainties and conflicts in the region and beyond. They worry about the impact of trade wars, sanctions, cyberattacks, territorial disputes, and political instability on their businesses and the regional economy. They are adopting various strategies to mitigate these risks, such as diversifying their markets, suppliers, and partners, strengthening their resilience and security, and engaging in dialogue and diplomacy.

– Asia’s business leaders are preparing for the disruptive effects of technological changes on their industries and society. They anticipate that technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, cloud computing, biotechnology, and blockchain will create new opportunities for innovation and efficiency, but also pose challenges such as job displacement, data privacy, ethical dilemmas, and regulatory gaps. They are investing in upskilling their workforce, enhancing their data capabilities, adopting ethical principles, and collaborating with regulators.

The survey shows that Asia’s business leaders are confident but cautious about the future of the region. They are ready to seize the opportunities but also aware of the risks. They are willing to embrace change but also mindful of the trade-offs. They are hopeful but realistic about Asia’s role in the world.

The survey also provides insights into how Asia’s business leaders can work together to shape a better future for themselves, their companies, their region, and the world. By sharing their perspectives and experiences, they can learn from each other and foster mutual understanding. By collaborating on common goals and challenges, they can leverage their collective strengths and resources. By engaging with other stakeholders such as governments, civil society, academia, media, and international organizations they can contribute to solving global problems.

Asia is on the cusp of a new era. Its business leaders have a unique opportunity to make a difference. The survey is a first step in exploring how they can do so. (ZI)