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Asean corporates, top executives need to clear hurdle of risk-averse culture, says Infor head 

Jun 29. 2018
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THAI and other Asean corporate leaders need to have a clear vision on the digital transformation agenda to stay relevant in the fast-changing business landscape, according to Wesley Kowalski, the new Head of Asean for US-based enterprise software firm Infor.

Kowalski, who previously helped Australian airline Qantas and other firms transform successfully before joining Infor a year ago, said culture is a key factor of the transformation mindset as many Asean companies and top executives are risk-averse.

As the new chief of Infor’s Asean unit, which covers Thailand and other nine markets, Kowalski aims to help regional companies accelerate their journey to avoid being left behind by their competitors who have the clear vision and right mindset for using disruptive technologies to transform their businesses.

Overall, Singapore appears to be leading the pack of Asean companies in embracing disruptive technologies, followed by Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and other countries.

In Malaysia, he said, the pace of execution has picked up again following a recent slowdown, especially in the financial services sector, while Thailand’s food and beverage sector as well as other industries are leading the country’s transformation process.

For example, CP Meiji has adopted a new warehouse system using robotics and new enterprise software in optimising its operation. Earlier, Boonrawd Brewery also executed its warehouse transformation project.

In the Philippines and Indonesia, energy, utilities, building and construction as well as telecom, logistic and manufacturing sectors are among the fastest-growing markets for digital transformation.

According to Kowalski, who also used to work for IBM and Oracle, Asean corporate leaders need to be aware of the growing role played by disruptive technologies in their respective markets if they do not want to be lagging behind competition.

Prior to joining Infor, Kowalski worked at IT start-up company Fusion Professionals which helped Qantas Airlines develop about 350 apps and move their computing facilities to the cloud within a relatively short period of time.

Kowalski, who also has a track record in helping banks, telecom and other firms adopt disruptive technologies, last week joined an Infor event in Bangkok to create a greater awareness on the digital transformation trend and how it impacts Thai businesses along the theme of “Thailand 4.0” initiative.

Infor highlighted its cloudsuite solution for the food and beverage industry with various components as well as other vertical industry-specific solutions during the Bangkok event.

According to Kowalski, Infor also aims to engage more corporate leaders in Thailand and other Asean countries in the transformation journey so as they have a better vision of the future by showing them more examples of successful transformation.

The longer Asean companies wait, the more they will be behind other competitors in and outside the region.

 Kowalski said Infor believes in industry-specific solutions, not a one-size-fit-all solution, since the former solutions are more effective in boosting competitiveness for each of the industries concerned. He added that corporate leaders cannot ignore the technology trend and should not wait for a long time period.

Several companies have also created a new position of chief digital officer to help steer management toward the right direction.

In Thailand, banking and financial services as well as e-commerce and logistics are among the early adopters of disruptive technologies.

For example, the numbers of mobile banking apps and users have increased rapidly as major commercial banks move millions of their customers onto mobile devices while reducing the number of physical bank branches to embrace the rise of e-commerce and digital lending platforms. 


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