Lawrence Liu: Likely Trends to Impact Businesses in the Near Future

The General Manager for South Asia Pacific, Keysight Technologies, gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead for businesses.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc globally, businesses were disrupted by technological innovation and changing consumer behaviour. These forces have been accelerated by the crisis, forcing organisations to speed up their digital transformations and rethink the way in which innovation is to be executed and achieved.

BiZQ speaks to Mr Lawrence Liu, General Manager for South Asia Pacific at technology company Keysight Technologies, as he shares his thoughts on the trends that are likely to impact local businesses.

Mr Lawrence Liu, General Manager for South Asia Pacific, Keysight Technologies

Given the growing acceptance of working remotely, how can companies optimise the benefits of such a model for business success?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors of society and forced enterprises of all sizes, governments, and private institutions to accelerate in their digital transformation journeys and to rethink and reinvent the way innovation is to be achieved.

The distributed and remote workforce has gained new recognition and acceptance, especially in technology innovation. This has led to a mix of remote and on-site work environments, which have become, and ideally will remain, the norm even as the pandemic eases.

Going forward, we expect collaborative technologies and practices to continue to take on new and growing importance. Businesses will tap technological advancements and escalate the formation and organisation of mission-critical innovation teams that can and will be easily managed remotely.

On the other hand, engineers and other innovators who will need to return onsite and be part of in-person collaborations, will be more intentional and strategic about when to do so.

As far as enterprise sales organisations are concerned, they will undergo significant transformation as hybrid sales forces, with a mix of in-person and virtual, apply new methods for relationship-building and learning objectives, as well as alternative ways to provide product and solution demonstrations remotely.

How do you see corporate social responsibility (CSR) playing a more pivotal role for businesses?

We believe that CSR will take on greater business importance and will no longer be a company-specific concern. Instead, CSR will be both a moral and business imperative consistent with an enterprise’s value creation strategy.

In addition to employees and customers, shareholders will increasingly recognise that companies with tangible CSR commitments generate better long-term returns and achieve more sustainable practices.

Ethical supply chains, inventories, and materials sourcing vendors will likely examine the company’s CSR programmes prior to establishing working relationships with organisations.

Similarly, the sought-after global talent pool may also acknowledge CSR as a fundamental responsibility for the companies they consider, and therefore an important decision driver for their career choices.

Furthermore, climate change will continue to cause supply chain disruptions on a global basis, making business-continuity planning and supply-chain resilience strategies crucial to business success.

This will highlight the need for the assessments of potential risks, as well as mitigation strategies and plans that cover the end-to-end supply chain processes; a flexible sourcing strategy that involves multi-sourcing of alternative parts, parts redesign, and parts standardisation; a focus on ensuring facilities are resilient and have crisis plans in place in the event of natural disasters; and new approaches addressing the inherent financial implications of these concepts.

With Singapore expected to have two full-fledged nationwide 5G networks by 2025, which sectors do you think would benefit the most and why?

5G will remain a strategic imperative for our businesses and government in 2021, where we believe it will the focus of intense international interest and competition as 5G networks drive improvements in power, energy, and financial infrastructures. However, cell-site zoning and related policy issues will become a bigger concern for national and local governments.

5G will move beyond the smartphone into industrial use cases and the enablement of virtualised healthcare delivery and procedures. Manufacturing and network rollouts will catch up with 2020 device launches, and there will be a greater diversification of 5G devices with multiple price points.

Dynamic spectrum sharing and new national spectrum policies will drive widespread 5G deployment as accessibility to user equipment grows to address current coverage issues and the costs of deploying mid-band spectrum.

The advent of 5G is expected to drive greater investment in the infrastructure that enables Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIOT), or Industry 4.0, including distributed cloud and hyper-connectivity. Emphasis will be placed on private 5G networks for industrial enterprises, which will facilitate among other things remote operation and management.

We also believe that a growing remote workforce will fuel IIoT, which will require enterprises to deploy intelligent equipment to effectively manage manufacturing and factory operations from a distance.

As a result, we expect increased investment in automation and the use of robotics and machine learning to manage facilities, as well as a growing acceptance in leveraging cloud technology to automate production lines; new solutions for manufacturing automation, testing and analytics for all components as automotive and other facilities will be ramped up; as well as greater investment in IIoT functions for real-time, predictable control, which will require an increase in the number of machines and sensors, and a network infrastructure capable of managing this growing number of devices.

Given the manpower crunch in Singapore, how can STEM help drive the talent pipeline?

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) will help drive the talent pipeline in Singapore and globally. With an increased focus on diversity and inclusiveness, we expect to see a hyper-competitive landscape for global technology talent.

This will lead to a focused and amplified commitment to STEM – access and implementation – across all regions. New methods of delivering virtual learning opportunities that level the playing field will be explored and implemented.

Enterprises and governments will also tackle equity issues in the “digital divide” exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including access to resources such as the lack of computers, smartphones, Wi-Fi and broadband.