Millennials are expected to rise to management positions in this decade, and this will help accelerate the digital transformation and process automation of many companies around the world.
“It is the decade of the millennials when they become the decision-makers. 2020 will be the decade where the millennials enter the management positions,” Praveen Kumar, general manager for Asia Pacific of ASG Technologies, says in an interview at Conrad Manila in Pasay City.
ASG is an American software company that helps companies in their digital journey. In the Philippines, its customers include six of the 10 largest banks and one of the two major telecom companies. Other clients are in healthcare, pharmaceutical, retail and business process outsourcing industries.
Kumar is referring to the Generation Y or the group of individuals who were born between 1981 and 1996. Some of the millennials, known for being adept at mobile apps and social media, would be in their 40s in this decade.
Kumar says in this decade of millennials, “we do expect solutions to be mobile-friendly, more processes to be agile, decision-making to be quicker and the ability to think about customers to be a lot higher”.
“We would see more collaborative decision-making between business and IT. We will see them coming together and taking more decisions together which plays into the strength of ASG. The products we are launching, the new solutions we are focusing on are all towards transformation and automation,” he says.
Kumar says banks, for example, should be able to serve millennials faster to gain more business. “How long does it take you to get an automotive loan. Let’s say a week. But millennials who visited the dealership and shortlisted a car wanted to drive out with that car. That’s how millennials think. It is instant gratification. If it takes a bank a week to decide on the loan, that allows potential customers to shop for other cars and change their mind. The bank just lost a potential customer,” he says.
“Banks need to be more agile in their process which means that in the backend, they need to have a process transformation. If it could be done in an hour or two or three, why does it need seven days? We are working with banks and insurance companies and other units to transform their process. Across all industries, we are seeing AI [artificial intelligence] and ML [machine learning] play significant role,” says Kumar.
“In the Philippines, we are about 14 years now. Our growth has been rapid in the past four because we invested in marketing and added more business partners. Five years back, we had one business partner. Now, we have five,” he says.
“It has been a rapid growth. Last year was really, really strong. This year is looking very strong already because of the pipeline,” says Kumar, a 45-year-old Indian national based in Singapore. He has been with ASG since 2013 and prior to that, worked for other major IT companies such as IBM, Nortel and T-Systems.
“We grew 3x in the Philippines last year, driven by investment on transformation and automation. This year, we expect to grow at least 30 percent to 50 percent, on top of 2019 growth. That gives us phenomenal momentum,” he says. Kumar says this makes the Philippines an important market in Asia Pacific for ASG.
He says ASG has helped banks in the Philippines become mobile-ready. “Out of the 10 biggest banks, six use ASG solutions. That gives us a significant footprint in the financial industry, apart from other lines of business. We have a bunch of success historically in Manila. One of the top two telcos is also a customer. That kind of captures the telco and financial markets,” he says.
“Industries continue to invest because of two reasons. They have to stay competitive because of the new-age companies coming in. There is new fintech, new retail, new way of lending loans. Banks have to revamp their operations,” he says.
Kumar says BPOs in the Philippines now also embrace artificial intelligence and machine learning to become more efficient, agile and competitive. “There is competition, as Vietnam is coming up, Malaysia is coming up and other industries are coming up. If you don’t reduce cost and don’t reduce time to market, you are gonna lose out,” he says.
ASG has three lines of business, including systems which is around infrastructure, management and operations and automation; content which covers storage and digital automation; and data governance.
Kumar says the company has evolved significantly over recent years with the advent of new technologies that are embraced by millennials.
“We have evolved as much as the customers because our products have also been revamped. In fact, the latest product which is around process transformation and digital automation is being launched this year. All our products support cloud and run on any cloud platform. We also offer SaaS or software as a service on the cloud. We offer subscription based methodologies,” he says.
“That is the flexibility that the customers see in us. We have evolved as much as the market has. In the past three to four years, the product is fairly revolutionary to the customers and the customers appreciate the functionality that we bring on the table,” says Kumar.
“Our solutions talk about saving 40 percent of your cost and time and 60 percent more agile in terms of speed to market. It fits into where the future of most businesses would want to go. AI and ML are part of the transformation process,” he says.
Kumar also contests the idea that AI and ML will result in people losing their jobs. “When automation started in auto industry, they said plants and robots would replace humans. It did not happen. In fact, they produced more cars and hired more skilled jobs. When computers came, they said it would replace humans. What happened is that people learned more. Similarly, in this digital age, you will upskill yourself. Jobs would remain but the skill level of the individual would be better. In fact, there would be more jobs and there would be more activity. Replacement would happen at the lower end, but those people would eventually upskill,” he says.