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Most business leaders I talk to in Southeast Asia are taking a long-term view towards the readiness of their organisations for enterprise social tools. These leaders are well informed of the global research highlighting the clear productivity benefits of social tools. Most are aware of innovation taking place in other countries; however, they are still translating that into “what it means to be a social organisation in Southeast Asia.”
What fascinates me from an organisational behaviour perspective is that the workplace culture and personal culture are often diametrically opposed in their usage and adoption of social tools. For instance, Indonesians are the most social and mobile addicted country in the world and more mobile phone contracts exist in Singapore than there are Singaporeans. However, corporate structures and business culture in Asia today do not support an environment of lateral sharing and questioning management in an open debate. In fact, one of the challenges presented by in the Economist’s Banyan: Ideas for an Asian Century was that Asia must develop an appetite to innovate and accept learning through failure.
Given this, one might interpret the outlook for social collaboration to be bleak for Southeast Asian enterprises. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As NewsGator is at the forefront of social innovation at the corporate level, we have been fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest minds in Southeast Asia that are pushing the envelope of collaboration. Most notably, we had the opportunity to help the Infocomm Development Authority (iDA) of Singapore launch one of the first SharePoint 2013 intranets in eGovernment. In order to meet their advanced needs for best-of-breed social communities and news aggregation, NewsGator Social Sites was deployed right at the cusp of this new platforms launch. In 2012, we were able to launch one of the first corporate social networks in Malaysia at Axiata, thanks to our deep and skilled partner channel of local Malaysian SharePoint system integrators like ISA Innovation. Even earlier before these projects, we helped Star Petroleum, a division of Shell, become social with the help of our partner Fujitsu in Thailand.
As you can see from these real life scenarios all across Southeast Asia, our society is going through a drastic change as we become more open, transparent and interconnected in our daily lives at home and in the workplace. Social tools are undoubtedly accelerating this shift. As my favourite science fiction writer William Gibson famously stated, “The future is already here. It is just unevenly distributed.” Here’s to continuing to even out that distribution in the very near future Asia.