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Digital Transformation, Incumbents and the Startup Ecosystem

While startups search for a validated business model, customer base and product feature mix, established companies, (the incumbents) are entering an era of digital industrialization for which they are not prepared. 75% of businesses surveyed by McKinsey were deemed to be ‘future victims’ of the disruptive economic shifts impacting every industry. The takeaway: we’ve gone from the era of digital transformation to the era of digital disruption, and the winners are taking all with a first-mover advantage while transformative leadership and business strategy are re-emerging as the path to transforming organizations to cope with the tremendous potential and competitive advantage becoming available through digital technology.

Although some industries are further along in disruption than others, even industrial industries such as mining are showing digitization success stories. Codelco in Chile, as featured by Didier Bonnet at Capgemini Consulting, can boast real-time monitoring and matching of output, demand from customers, fully automated trucks and are envisioning human-free mines, completely transforming the previous limitations of a pre-digital age and unlocking tremendous competitive advantage.

That brings us to the tenuous connection between the subject matter and the header image. The best companies are today employing transformative visions of the future and working backwards to build a futuristic reality.

As the building blocks of transformative and exponential change, this is where startups come into the picture. Recent Ernst & Young research has signaled that dealmaking has made a strong comeback for 2017 and a major Merger and Acquisition theme for 2017 will be the ‘purchasing of innovation.’

A tremendous opportunity for startups in SEA exists while the incumbents are looking to buy growth and enable the unlocking of potential within their core assets and capabilities. The more your startup augments their strategic core, the more resonant you make your value proposition.

80% of blue collar workers do not yet have access to technology that enables and assists them in performing the daily jobs; a huge opportunity being targeted by startups such as Stacck Inc.

The size of the opportunity is growing as firms are still beginning to realize, for example, that HR tech can release employees from manually counting leave, and even begin to add predictive insights into workforce performance ala Talent Analytics Corp. In hiring, firms can now hire more engaged technical applicants through online recruitment services like HackerTrail.

In brokering and commodity trading, firms have still yet to capitalize on advanced AI solutions. These provide the promised advantage of algorithm-led insights to help every person in the field close deals as well star performers and some, like Negobot also aim to allow the selection of strategic options such as maximizing the profitability of the deal or instead building long-term customer loyalty.

In a nutshell, it’s looking like exciting times ahead for the startups in the SEA ecosystem who can position themselves in front of incumbents and enable them in the digitalization of core-processes, communications, enhancing customer experience and insight-development analytics.

Reach out and share your thoughts via or ask me how you can leverage and maximize your core assets through digital transformation strategically.

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