GOVERNMENTS around Southeast Asia (SEA) are prioritizing investments to build the digital capabilities of local businesses. Particularly in Malaysia, we have seen both the public and private sectors put in place a growing number of upskilling initiatives, many of which aim to equip the current and future workforce with the skills needed to meet the demands of a fast-paced economy. digital. For example, under the recently announced RM4.8 billion JaminKerja Keluarga Malaysia initiative, the Malaysian government aims to provide various training and skills upgrading programs in which priority is given to equipment of Malaysians in digital skills.

While these initiatives encourage companies to accelerate technology adoption, hiring and training to address immediate digital skills gaps across all functions, they can focus on four areas to gain competitive advantage in the digital economy first.


Every business today is a digital business. While the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 saw a rampant e-commerce rush, 2021 was more about adapting to lingering uncertainty.

As businesses recalibrate for 2022, online retail spending is expected to increase. Consumers have enjoyed an explosion of choice over the past 18 months, and personalization will be the key differentiator for brands to stand out. Companies that invest in omnichannel commerce capabilities will be able to optimize their personalization efforts and deliver relevant experiences across all touchpoints, improving customer loyalty and retention.

For example, Aldo, which operates 80 stores in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, revitalized its online stores with Adobe Commerce. They integrated their websites and offline outlets into a single cloud inventory, gaining the ability to scale quickly and the flexibility to manage complex, personalized promotions, enabling them to deliver an e-commerce experience local to their customers across the region.

Content creation

While the Metaverse may seem like a futuristic sci-fi concept, investing now in your team’s capabilities to create for the 3D, VR, AR space will future-proof your business. Beyond the gaming and entertainment industries, companies around the world are increasingly experimenting with new forms of digital and 3D content, NFTs, retail formats, and engagements with metaverse customers.

Amazon, for example, creates immersive shopping experiences with photorealistic 3D assets for key product categories including furniture and accessories. Customers can rotate a product 360 degrees to inspect it from all angles or use Amazon’s “Show in Your Room” feature to preview how furniture will look in their home. By doing so, Amazon not only brings shoppers closer to products and improves their online shopping experience, but also accelerates the speed of content by eliminating the need to make prototypes and take photos of millions of products.

And with the rise of the Metaverse, there will also be new streams of digital customers, digital journeys, and data to track and manage.

Effective management of customer data

As brands increasingly focus on first-party data in preparation for moving away from third-party cookies, there will be new data privacy challenges as well as opportunities to be leveraged.

Effective management of customer data requires the right technology and platforms and requires strategic collaboration between internal teams – including IT, marketing, finance and legal – and a corresponding shift in skills and the state of mind of the employees. Functional teams will need to develop new skills to understand how and where data can be leveraged to inform decisions and connect all possible touchpoints from which data can be collected, tested and refined to improve the customer experience.

U Mobile, for example, launched its refreshed website and customer experience delivery platform, powered by Adobe Experience Cloud, to improve personalized and personalized experiences for its Malaysian customers. Today, U Mobile is able to have greater autonomy and agility in content management to deliver an enhanced trilingual customer experience to help the telecom operator better serve its customers across digital channels.

Hybrid work

Companies organized for speed, collaboration and innovation are best positioned to turn possibilities into business opportunities. However, many organizations today are constrained by outdated working practices and technologies, stifling creativity and speed to market. While the hybrid work trend is here to stay, many SEA companies aren’t ready to embrace this future, which poses an additional challenge to talent acquisition and retention. Organizations need to reorient themselves towards agility by modernizing working practices and technology infrastructure – including document processes, workflows and collaboration tools – and adapting to a hybrid working world.

In 2022, change is here to stay. Now that consumers are reconnected to digital, their expectations for personalized experiences have intensified. SEA companies must create change at all levels of their organization to compete in the digital-first economy – from first-party data adoption to increased investment in experience.

This article was written by Adobe’s General Manager, Southeast Asia and Korea, Simon Dale (pix).