Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Silicon Dragon CES 2021: Chat with KPMG's Darren Yong


For this Fireside Chat from our 2021 Silicon Dragon CES Event, our featured speaker was Darren Yong, Asia Pacific Head of TMT (Technology, Media and Telecom) at KPMG. In our wide-ranging discussion with Yong, we covered the disruption of banking and finance sectors, 5G telecommunications, innovation cultures in the wide-ranging Asian Pacific markets, the onset of hyper-localization, and data convergence in the home.

 Following are key takeaways. 

In the last five to ten years, a trend away from the strong influence of the U.S. and U.K., and towards local inventiveness in the Asia Pacific has emerged. A prime example is WeChat from China. WeChat evolved from being just a messaging app to then include several more features including payments and marketplaces. This type of local ingenuity has forced big multinationals to innovate quickly or be left to get disrupted by the digital natives innovating in emerging markets.

Finance Ripe for Disruption
Yong notes Asia’s banking and financial sector is ripe for disruption, Yong notes, and has already begun. A recent example can be seen from Singapore telco Singtel and food delivery company Grab being granted a license to set up a fully functional digital bank. To further illustrate this trend, Yong notes that he is currently working with clients in Southeast Asia that are telcos setting up insurance companies as well as with insurance companies moving into finance. A fully digital organization has unique advantages when competing with a traditional bank, which can have less agile data that is harder to combine.  

5G Telecommunications
We're seeing more and more consumer data with the convergence of 5G technology, Internet of Things, and telcos in the home. This is a leading to a wealth of monetization opportunities for businesses such as insurance, health with mass IoT being a core driver. Companies in China have broken many boundaries in trying to get into many new sectors such as Ant Financial. 

The Next Big Thing at Home
Consumers want to be more digitally connected than ever, especially in this Covid-19 era as so many are relegated to long periods in their homes. In-home devices such as smart speakers have emerged as a new market opportunity. Marketers need to gauge how easy a product is to use and incorporate into a consumer’s daily life. For instance, the success of easy-to-wear smart watches contrasts with Google Glass, where a better-integrated and seamless user experience is needed for future home products. 

Data Science Nation Singapore
When asked if Singapore is already a data science nation, Yong was quick to note the huge government imperative driving multinationals to bring in data scientists as well as the encouragement of training and skills programs for coding and developing. 

Change-ready Vietnam
Big ideas are coming out of Asia Pacific’s emerging markets but in varying degrees. For instance, countries such as Singapore have well-developed data ecosystems and established family lifestyles and well-paying jobs, while up and coming nations like Vietnam are hungry and in a position to bring change. The Vietnamese market is driven by a young demographic of those in their 30s who are starting out and are hungry for learning and innovating, and are in a position to embrace change. 

Darren Yong is the Head of Client and Market Development and the Head of Technology, Media, and Telecom for KPMG Asia Pacific. He is a highly accomplished executive with more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications and information technology.  Yong concentrates on business model and technology disruption across a wide array of sectors including insurance, banking, health, retail and consumer.
Before his time with KPMG, Yong was the VP of Commercial Management and Strategic Growth Markets at Orange Business Services (a global IT and communications service provider) where he worked on the mining, banking and health sectors. Prior to that, Yong was Head of Solutions and Bid Management for Verizon Asia Pacific where he led teams in Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and India. Yong was also the Director of Business Operations at Sprint Asia Pacific before his tenure at Verizon.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Sydney in Australia.

Summary by Silicon Dragon Global contributor Michael Weiss