Rise Of The Digital Conglomerate In Asia

Koert Breebaart and Scott Russell

Asia’s conglomerates are at an inflection point. From South Korea’s chaebols and Japan’s keiretsu to India’s business houses and Southeast Asia’s family-owned multinationals, these large groups have exceptional track records of success. However, they now find themselves competing for customers, capital, and talent in a very different and globalised environment.

Despite most Asian conglomerates working hard to improve operational efficiency and the quality of their products and services, new challengers – including agile online retailers such as Alibaba and Amazon, and global digital-powered entities like Google and Tesla – are fast disrupting markets, with new ways of selling and making decisions. Conglomerates face a stark choice: disrupt or be disrupted.

At the same time, rapid technical and social innovation is highlighting the need for continuous innovation. As technology plays a bigger role in their day-to-day lives, consumers want to shop for products and services that are personalised, transparent, convenient, and available on demand. Customer expectations, in other words, have never been higher.

Global market trends are also inescapable. With prices for commodities such as oil and minerals fluctuating, many Asian conglomerates are under pressure to reimagine their business models to open new revenue and profit sources as old ones close.

Some conglomerates have already adapted, successfully deploying digital technology to engage in new ways with customers, streamline operations, and optimise business outcomes. However, many are still yet to transform their operations for the digital age. To maintain and grow their competitive edge, Asian conglomerates should consider transforming key aspects of the business value chain by:

  • Evolving customer engagement and commerce to drive growth
  • Enhancing workforce engagement across employees and contractors to drive profit
  • Enabling superior business and supplier collaboration to drive down spend across direct materials, indirect spend, and travel
  • Optimizing the extended supply chain by harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to better connect assets, products, and equipment – increasing cost savings and enhance the customer experience
  • Providing real-time intelligent insights by bringing together business transactions and insights to drive more informed decision-making

Download our white paper “Rise of the Digital Conglomerate In Asia” to learn more. If you are interested, we are happy to demonstrate how SAP is uniquely positioned to help you with a powerful end-to-end enterprise platform, capable of digitising every business process across 25 industries. 


Koert Breebaart

About Koert Breebaart

Koert Breebaart is the Digital Leader and Vice President for the Conglomerates Industry Business Unit at SAP (Asia-Pacific and Japan). He leads the industry through value management, customer co-innovation, digital transformation, and business process performance improvement programs by developing road maps, reimagining business models, and reducing costs with digital technologies. On top of his expertise, Koert is also a passionate writer who consistently pens his thoughts and experiences in articles. He is the author of the book “5 Steps to Customer Centricity,” and the Director of the short documentary “Social Entrepreneurs: New Heroes of the 21st Century.”

Scott Russell

About Scott Russell

Scott Russell is the President and Managing Director for SAP Southeast Asia (SEA). Russell is responsible for business strategy, operations, P&L, and sustainable growth for SAP across SEA. He leads high-performing teams across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and other emerging markets in SEA. Russell has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry spanning across software, cloud and services. Russell has helped hundreds of companies leverage leading enterprise software including cloud solutions and providing expert guidance to achieve their business goals. Before joining SAP, Russell was with IBM Global Business Services, where he led the Systems Integration and Application Maintenance business for IBM Australia New Zealand and the Managing Partner for IBM in Thailand and Vietnam previously to that. Russell is also a respected thought leader and a regular speaker at seminars and conferences, including the World Economic Forum on ASEAN and Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit. He has been featured in numerous media, including CNBC, Bloomberg TV, Channel NewsAsia, Nikkei Asian Review, Business Insider, Business Times and many others. Russell is passionate about helping companies leverage technology innovation by converting business strategy into successful execution with cloud and software solutions.