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How Southeast Asian Entrepreneurs Can Innovate and Win Using Digital Media

How crucial is innovation to your enterprise?

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BY Melissa G. Bagamasbad - 18 Jul 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Much has been said about innovation and the digital age, and businesses should take note. Donald Lim, the new CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, shared his thoughts at a talk during Ignite, the first innovation conference held by Techshake last July 1 in Manila. Lim says he’s learned that every business must change. “We talk about Microsoft and how Microsoft innovated from Windows,” he says. “Any new innovation is nice. Then, for example, Apple started from the hardware side.”

Below, he further expounds on the concept and gives key points:

1. Embrace innovation and do it fast

“The thing about innovation is that if you don’t innovate fast enough, you will actually cease to exist,” says Lim. “The biggest question in 2020 is if it will still be [Android or iPhone]? Or will another challenger come and disrupt them? So that remains to be seen.”

2. Learn to use digital media well

“When you talk about digital, I always tell them it’s never about the technology or the gadgets. It’s a gauge. And it follows the industrial age. So whether you like it or not, it’s the digital age right now. So whether we like it or not, our business will be digital,” says Lim.

Lim also talks about “digital maturity.” He says, “A lot of businesses are moving in this direction. The digital age would actually change how they talk to customers. How they affect suppliers. How it will affect the packing journey. The business itself.” Lim adds that most organizations are evolving. He recalls when he was the chief digital officer of ABS-CBN and CD sales dropped drastically due to the emergence of streaming through programs like Spotify. He says they then started putting their music online, such as on iTunes and YouTube. “We were earning more from that than CD sales,” he says.

Lim says when he was at ABS-CBN they created One Music PH after realizing that music was evolving to web. “After identifying a certain market, we’re trying to serve that market,” he says. “It’s a race towards being a new ecosystem shaper. Now it’s based on who will change the ecosystem.”

3. Remember innovation has to make business sense for you

Lim says this is the simplest ways to define innovation. “From what is currently existing, you have to create the new normal,” he says.

“The digital economy has been appreciated. [But the question is] if it creates enough sense as a business. There has to be a balance between the organization, the customer, and the product,” he says. “And what you call the organizational center. Your idea may be good but it still has to create money.”

He says that companies like Airbnb and Uber have disrupted the marketplace, but have they reached critical mass? Are they the new normal? Do they make enough sense for them as a business?

“People can fail,” he says. “The product and service should be able to alleviate the pain. And you look at what their goals are in terms of what the customer wants to achieve. [The] value proposition that you provide, you [should] balance with the customer profile. You have to have a specific set of customers that you set it up first.”

In short, businesses have to find their product-market fit.

The future technology is not about technology per se but how you make sense of it. The challenge for companies, Lim says, is for them to create the new normal.