US-Asia CEO/Owner Digital Transformation and Innovation Forum Presented at Stanford University
Co-Hosts Silicon Valley Future Academy and US-ATMC at Stanford Announce US-Asia CEO/Owner Innovation Leadership Program (COIL): Leap Ahead of the Competition
Silicon Valley Future Academy (SVFA) and US-Asia Technology Management Center (US-ATMC) at Stanford hosted the US-Asia CEO/Owner Digital Transformation and Innovation Forum on February 7 at the Stanford University Faculty Center. The Forum featured three sessions with panels comprised of technology and innovation leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, scholars, and investors from around the world. Panelists shared their opinions, expertise, and experiences with more than sixty invited guests.
The panels delved into the key trends, drivers, opportunities, and pitfalls that are critical to successfully capturing emerging markets in Asia, including leveraging the expertise and methodologies that Silicon Valley and other leading innovation ecosystems around the world have employed to create and grow innovation-driven technology enterprises.
“We are very lucky here in Silicon Valley, because it is already a powerful engine of innovation,” said Silicon Valley Future Academy (SVFA) co-founder Chenyang Xu. “But for global enterprises that are looking for the places where greatest potential for growth exists, Asia is clearly the leader. The question we want to answer is, how can companies capture these opportunities?”
The Forum was developed by SVFA and US-ATMC to address the shift in the center of economic gravity from west to east that is changing global markets. This change is already evident, with the Financial Times recently writing that Asian economies will exceed that of the rest of the world combined in 2020, and a 2019 McKinsey study finding that Asia is on track to surpass fifty percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2040, driving forty percent of the world’s consumption. This presents a massive opportunity for companies in both the US and Asia.
“When we started Silicon Valley Future Academy we already believed that the future of business would be driven by technology and innovation,” said SVFA founder Echo Cheng. “We also firmly believe that Asia offers the greatest promise for growing businesses faster, and successfully achieving that future will depend on collaboration and communication between East and West, the US and Asia.”
Session One: The Future of Collaboration
Moderated by Richard Dasher, Director of US-ATMC, the first panel session focused on The Future of the US and Asia: Collaboration and Opportunity. Participants covered a wide range of subjects of concern to Forum attendees, including areas of focus and strategies for success.
“Today, the amount of venture capital being invested in China is roughly equivalent to the amount being invested in the US,” said Richard Dasher, Director, US-ATMC at Stanford. “With China’s GDP slowing to 6% per year, and Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia approaching 6% per year, there are new markets opening up that present huge opportunities. The question is, what are the skills surrounding development and incubation that leaders need in order to seize these new opportunities.”
“The biggest constant is change,” said David Haubert, Mayor of Dublin, California. “Everything is evolving fast, but that also means you have exciting opportunities to get things done partnering with other companies across Asia.”
The panel discussed the reasons companies need to be aware of the “decoupling” of the US and China as trade friction, nationalism, and security concerns increase, and how these changes are driving more companies to seek opportunities throughout Asia. The panelists also shared their experiences and perspectives regarding how both US and Asian enterprises can best take advantage of the opportunities presented in Asia during this time of significant change.
“There is enormous potential for US companies and their partners to leverage the phenomenal amount of data being generated in China,” said Sean Randolph, Senior Director, Bay Area Council Economics Institute. “But Southeast Asia also has a very young, digitally-oriented population. So, if you look at what’s being done with artificial intelligence, the priority is to focus on research and new business model development across Asia. These are huge opportunities.”
Panelist David Sullivan, Managing Director, Alliance Development Group added, “CEOs are being pushed to take their companies global very quickly. Many companies today base their decisions on what they know about the US or what they’ve done in other parts of Asia. In the future CEOs need to look at large, strategic markets independently, so they understand the business culture and laws and truly understand the market so they can take better advantage of the opportunities in Asia.”
Dr. James Zhang, Partner of GRC Fund and Chief Strategy Officer at Centrillion Technologies, stressed the importance of understanding the rules wherever you want to do business. “We work with a lot of startups, and my observation is that it’s never too soon to have an international strategy, even at a very early stage,” said Dr. Zhang. “In addition, it’s just as important to know the rules in the countries where you plan to do business, and to follow those rules and laws such as personal data privacy, export control, CFIUS, etc.”
Session 2: Corporate Innovation and Corporate Venture Success
The panel looked at the factors that must be considered as both American and Asian business leaders seek to drive enhanced corporate innovation and successful corporate venture capital investing in Asia. Subjects included navigating and working with government entities, understanding local cultural and business practices, and strategies for capturing Asian corporate venture capital investment opportunities.
In his opening statement, session two moderator and SVFA co-founder Chenyang Xu said, “In 2020 Asian economies will be larger than the rest of the world combined. This year is the tipping point, and the expectation is that Asian economies will continue to grow quickly. Cooperation between the US and Asia is more important than ever. That’s why so many executives are focusing on Asia going forward. The question we need to answer is, how can companies best capture the immense opportunities ahead amidst this mega shift in innovation and venture?”
Panelists discussed the ways global companies can implement stronger innovation and venture strategies in Asia and around the world. “We started a program last year where we brought in experts from Stanford and Berkeley to teach design thinking, data skills, and venture capital to more than 150 of our executives whom we brought to our Silicon Valley office from around the world,” said Kevin Kuhn, Vice President and General Manager, Mitsubishi Corporation (Americas).
“There seems to be a never-ending influx of corporates coming into Silicon Valley in search of the truth about innovation,” said Jean-Marc Frangos, former Senior Vice President of Innovation for BT. “The concern is ‘how are they going to be disrupted?.’ The mistake they make is focusing exclusively on trying to find the next startup to solve their next specific micro problem, instead of looking at the bigger picture.”
“Silicon Valley is still a place for innovation. But the last 10 years have opened my mind to what’s going on in the rest of the world. And what’s happening in Asia now is very, very impressive,” added Frangos.
For Wipro, a customer-centric approach is critical. “We are a technology services company. Rapid rate of change in technology mandates us to renew our capabilities continuously by building new services, assets and IP and upskilling, reskilling a company with 180,000 people,” said Nitin Narkhede, General Manager, Emerging Technologies and Innovation, Wipro Limited. “We look at emerging technologies and trends from two aspects. The first is what it means to our customers, because we want to enable our customers to be the disruptors in their respective industries. The second is how a technology could fit in with Wipro’s portfolio of services, because we want to collaborate with our customers through open innovation to commercialize it.”
“Enterprises need a network of innovation centers so they can tap into the local innovation ecosystem,” added Narkhede. “You want to be there because that’s the best way to collaborate. Wipro’s innovation center in Silicon Valley is an example of this.”
Austin Noronha, Managing Director, Sony Innovation Fund, recommends a flexible startup investment strategy. “Investing in innovative startups requires sort of a Swiss Army Knife approach,” said Noronha. “Our venture fund is one of the tools in that knife, where we don’t innovate internally or externally, but rather use a combination of the two. We try to think of ourselves as a global investment fund with a regional focus. I think innovation is everywhere. So we have to get down to the local level to succeed.”
Session 3: Digital Transformation
The final session, moderated by Danny Yu, Digital Energy and Industrial Entrepreneur and former CEO of Daintree, delved into the challenges and opportunities that Digital Transformation presents in both Asia and the US. The panel discussed the reasons that digital transformation is now an imperative for incumbent global corporations if they are to evolve and successfully compete against disruptive startups. Subjects included corporate strategies for effectively both competing against and collaborating with startups that are typically more agile and more focused on the customer experience.
“We’ve been using the term ‘digitalization’ for about ten years, and it has come to mean anything related to modernization,” said Yu. “But fundamentally, it’s a rethinking of technology, people, and processes that drive radical improvement in business processes. The number one thing corporations entering new markets must understand is that digitalization means delivering a great customer experience and customer experience is all about convenience. That’s driving new ways of thinking and driving trends on new automation technologies.”
Speaking about the landscape of digital transformation across different verticals, David Chen, SVFA Co-Founder, Operating Partner for Sequoia CBC Cross-border Digital Fund, and Chairman of HYSTA said, “Typically we can see two camps of players, one camp is for the newly established disruptors who want to reconfigure the value chain for different verticals by taking full advantage of technologies such as big data, AI, cloud, IOT and blockchain. The other camp includes those entrenched incumbents from traditional enterprises such as PingAn Insurance, JP Morgan Chase and Walmart that are also fighting for their dominant positions by leveraging the power of digital transformation.”
“Today, digitalization is way too focused on pure efficiency gains, leaving the human factor completely out of the picture, which limits its potential,” said Olaf Groth, CEO of Cambrian Futures and Professor at Hult International Business School and the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. “That’s one of the biggest roadblocks to digital transformation for clients. Employees often feel enslaved to digital technology, rather than empowered by it to reach higher productivity levels while gaining more work satisfaction and purpose. We need to rethink the symbiosis between humans and machines so it’s more human-centric.”
“Another challenge for most enterprises looking at digital transformation is getting the right data to the right people, not just inside the company, but to the rest of the innovation ecosystem and across countries in legal, ethical, and compliant ways,” said Groth. “That’s a tricky tradeoff. We want protection, but we do not want to stifle experimentation between Asian, American, and European entrepreneurs and scientists for entirely new types of data-driven insights that could make our lives better and richer.”
Speaking to the challenges that come with the huge increase in data being generated, panel member Dongyan Wang, Vice President, AI Transformation at Landing AI said, “To our knowledge there really isn’t an AI platform available to manufacturers today that can manage the massive compound complexity among products, defects, AI datasets and models for manufacturing visual inspection. That’s a huge problem that we want to solve to accelerate AI value creation for global manufacturers.”
The panel also discussed the key drivers large companies need to understand if they are to successfully realize digital transformation. “Fortune 500 companies have realized that there are three primary factors that drive success in digital transformations,” said Sanjay Srivastava, Chief Digital Officer, Genpact. “The first is to understand that digitalization is a journey, not a destination. The second is to drive meaningful and thoughtful deployments of AI into the work of the future. The third is that digital is not just about technology. It materializes at the intersection of technology, domain knowledge, process knowledge, and business understanding.”
SVFA and US-ATMC at Stanford Announce COIL Program
At the close of the Forum SVFA and US-ATMC announced the launch of their new, jointly-produced US-Asia CEO/Owner Innovation Leadership Program (COIL): Leap Ahead of the Competition. COIL was created for technology-driven entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors who are looking to capture the opportunities for technology innovation and business success in Asia. The 10-month program is comprised of three 8-day global modules that will be held in Silicon Valley/San Francisco and several countries throughout Asia. Over the course of the program participants will engage with global luminaries in technology, science, and business while experiencing deep-dive courses and unique field trips. Participants will also collaborate in a hands-on exercise that will create a real-world business that solves a real-world problem. SVFA and US-ATMC will release complete details regarding COIL in mid-March.
Silicon Valley Future Academy (SVFA)
SVFA’s mission is to focus on the needs of business and individuals to innovate and disrupt, to promote innovation and progress in technology and business from a professional and global perspective, and to expand the possibilities of the future. Since its establishment, Silicon Valley Future Academy has collaborated with top-tier global executive programs and entrepreneurial communities, successfully organized more than 100 masterclasses for thousands of executives and founders. We are committed to building a Silicon Valley-Style core curriculum and services for business leaders.
US-Asia Technology Management Center，Stanford University (US-ATMC)
Established in 1992, the US-Asia Technology Management Center (US-ATMC) is an education and research center located at Stanford University. US-ATMC programs aim at integrating practical perspectives into international strategic technology management along with analysis of research trends in selected areas of leading-edge technologies. The goal of US-ATMC educational programs is to provide Stanford students in various technical fields, and the science and engineering research community at large, with knowledge and analytical capabilities in our areas of focus that will be important to success in the Twenty-First Century.