How FPT is Driving Digital Ecosystems in Vietnam and SEA

Frank Bignone, VP and Director of Digital Transformation at FPT Software, Shares his Insights on Digital Ecosystems in Asia, and Strategy Tips for CEOs

FPT Corporation, commonly known as FPT, is a leading technology and IT services provider headquartered in Vietnam, with a particular focus on technology, telecommunications, and education.

A vital player in the digital transformation of the nation, FPT Software helps millions of people and tens of thousands of businesses to transform and thrive in the digital age,

FPT Corporation is a genuine giant, with total revenues of US$1.87 billion and more than 60,000 employees.

In this exclusive interview, Frank Bignone, VP and Director of Digital Transformation at FPT Software, shares his views on progress being made across Asia, opportunities and challenges ahead, and what every CEO should be doing right now to leverage digital ecosystems.

Why are digital ecosystems important?

The emergence of technology advancements like IoT, Cloud, AI, 5G communications, API-based innovation, and advanced analytics has grown into a multilayer nexus where people, businesses, and systems interact with one another using technology.

From a business perspective, digital ecosystems (DEs) unlock a multidimensional and multidirectional business model instead of the conventional vertical/ industry domination model. This empowers companies to expand beyond their boundaries.

DEs facilitate faster and more seamless cross-border and cross-industry interconnections. This allows organisations to consolidate a range of customers across sectors while enhancing touch points along customer journeys (both B2C and B2B). 

Since data is still the holy grail, it’s imperative that organisations can collect data from a variety of sources simultaneously and seamlessly to deliver personalised interactions, process automation, and strengthen their loyal base. 

In short, DEs help businesses scale fast, improve efficiency, and stay competitive in an ever-evolving economy. We can already observe this shift towards DEs in diverse sectors such as B2B services, automobiles, insurance, healthcare, and financial services. 

Of course, not every digital ecosystem is built in-house. In most cases, the growth of digital ecosystems is fuelled by tech vendors. This approach rewards businesses with opportunities for constant innovation and resilience amid the complex business landscape. At FPT Software, we align our strategies with ecosystem players, such as Landing AI, Schaeffler, Airbus, Viessman, IONITY, and E.ON. 

How is the Asia & ANZ region (or SEA) making progress compared to other regions?

The pace of digital adoption and transformation has burgeoned in the Asia-Pacific in recent years.

Many countries have released national digitalisation strategies to attract investment and cross-border synergies, for instance, Singapore’s Smart Nation 2025 Blueprint, Malaysia’s digital economy blueprint, and Vietnam’s National Digital Transformation Programme

79% of CEOs in the private sector claimed to turn their investment focus over the next three years to digital transformation. When aligning these with undergoing social components such as increasing internet and smartphone penetration and a growing tech-savvy middle class, APAC emerges as a rising star with a favourable backdrop and great potential for DEs.

Especially, Southeast Asia's digital economy is among the fastest growing. As of 2020, 39% of Southeast Asian enterprises have completed or made substantial progress toward digital transformation, while the remaining 61% anticipate doing so in the next 3 years. 

Various sectors in Southeast Asia are seizing DE opportunities: telecommunications companies are leveraging 5G and IoT to expand digital services, while the financial services sector is witnessing collaboration between traditional players and FinTech startups; healthcare providers are adopting digital solutions; consumer products and retail companies are moving towards digital channels and subscription services; and so on. The future holds great potential for DEs here.

Which countries are leading in Asia, and which are lagging?

Asia’s digital landscape, especially in SEA, has swelled in recent years, encompassing many innovations, from automation to e-commerce and cashless payments. The region is highlighted for the shift in global manufacturing and supply chains and a boom in e-commerce. 

IMF indicates that global growth relies heavily on expansions being recorded in most emerging and developing economies. With favorable trade agreements, external political factors, and capability readiness, these countries are promising environments for DEs.

Within developing Asian economies, Vietnam is spotlighted as an emerging global digital hub, bolstered by its young and dynamic workforce, positive economic growth, and strong government focus on digital transformation.

The country ranks the fastest-growing digital economy in SEA and 7th in Asia Pacific’s digital society. As of 2023, the country is achieving $148 billion in the ICT sector's revenue; its digital economy is expected to top US$43 billion by 2025, accounting for 30% of Vietnam’s GDP by 2030. 

This partly benefits from its strategic partnership and free trade agreements with 56 economies, including global powerhouses like the US, Japan, Korea, and Singapore.

What are the biggest opportunities and challenges?

The opportunities of digital ecosystems lie in their potential for considerable gains, even for companies with moderate budgets and scale. DEs are driving value along three tracks:

  • New sources of revenue: As the business model transits to digital transformation, industries, and companies now have several new revenue streams. A clear example is the financial services and retail with digital offerings, such as digital payments and e-commerce platforms; others and the government sector are following similar efforts, aiming to generate top-line growth by seizing technologies.
  • Rationalising cost structure: Digitisation streamlines the operation process through intelligent automation and the platform model to drive down time to market and overall costs.
  • Quickly adapt to global issues or economic changes: The world is experiencing a shift in investment destinations, supply chain players, and new digital hubs with prominent resources. With technology at the centre, businesses can seize this opportunity to scale up. Through smart bundling and innovation, companies can create new avenues to adopt new technology more swiftly and a virtuous circle of value.

Though the potential of digital ecosystems is vast, navigating the complexities of digital ecosystems can be challenging. Businesses with digital ecosystems often fall into the pitfall of scattered data across various systems, which leads to data silos and insightful decision-making constraints. 

What should CEOs be doing right now to take advantage of digital ecosystems?

Businesses of all sectors are already using digital ecosystems. They will continue to grow as technology improves. As technology becomes even more integrated into our lives, digital ecosystems will become more and more integrated with the physical world, driving innovation and growth.

To effectively build a digital ecosystem and thrive in the digital age, CEOs must keep up with technological advancements and trends, foster cross-industry and cross-border collaboration, and invest in talent development. 

Most importantly, companies should narrow their focus, as traditional strategic thinking with layers of decision-making may deter innovation and change. That's why the right partnerships and bespoke solutions are crucial strategic components for a successful digital ecosystem.

About Frank Bignone of FPT Software

Frank Bignone is the former VP and Head of Digital Transformation in Asia-Pacific and China at Airbus. He joined FPT Software in 2021 as Head of Global Digital Transformation with a mandate to transform the company into a world-class digital transformation provider.


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