The coming digital transformation


The value of the sector industry will rise from 300 billion to 1 trillion by 2030, but could even reach 2 trillion

"Southeast Asian countries are on the verge of reaping a digital economic windfall, but the road to wealth depends on the qualification of the region's workforce." This was argued by Rich Lesser, president of the U.S.-based consulting firm Boston Consulting Group, in a recent interview with Nikkei Asia. BCG predicts that the value of the region's digital industries, such as e-commerce, will grow from the current $300 billion to $1 trillion by 2030. "But if the right foundation is laid, this figure could even double to $2 trillion," Lesser said. This digitalization transformation will reshape entire industries, from technology sectors such as software, telecommunications and artificial intelligence to those such as health care, education and agriculture. "It will be transformational for companies," Lesser said, "both to boost productivity and to open up new sources of growth." Lesser suggests that the region must prioritize the creation of "human capital in a meaningful way" to take advantage of the potential for digital growth. "Retraining is not just about getting people to work in hardware, software, telecommunications, but also getting health workers to know how to use technology or agri-tech to get farmers to use these technologies," he said. "ASEAN, like other parts of the world, will have to invest in upgrading and retraining the current generation of workers and offering different kinds of learning and skill development to younger people to prepare them." The expansion of the digital economy in ASEAN will strengthen the bloc's position in the global economy over the next 10 years. "It is now a key part of supply chains with China and a key part of supply chains with the rest of the world," said Lesser, who believes ASEAN has become more important because of the way it is addressing the U.S.-China relationship. "ASEAN does not want to be forced to choose sides ... and it does not want to depend on a relationship with China to the exclusion of other relationships with the United States and other Western countries," Lesser argued. The economic and political stakes for ASEAN stem from its strategic position, which pushes other countries to deepen their ties for fear that "if they don't do it, others will and they will fall behind," Lesser added. "It is rather a framework of opportunity because in today's world ASEAN plays a crucial role."

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