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Embrace Asia's potential, while avoiding the pitfalls

Businesses looking to expand into the region can leverage data-driven insights using a cloud-based connected planning platform such as Anaplan. 

Embrace Asia's potential, while avoiding the pitfalls

Anaplan's capabilities empower businesses to plan for success in key functions like finance, supply chain, sales and operations, to adapt to the nuanced Asian market. Photos: iStock

There are numerous case studies of how major Western brands have ventured eastwards, only to fail in unexpected ways. 

Companies like IKEA and Walmart, for example, struggled to work with state-level bureaucracy in India, while DIY supplies mega-store Home Depot departed China after discovering that consumers there preferred to hire workers to carry out home improvements instead of doing it themselves. 

Approaching Asian markets the right way, however, can reap rich rewards. After all, Asia contributes over US$19 trillion (S$25.15 trillion) worth of revenue to the global economy annually and is home to more than 43 per cent of the world’s top 5,000 companies in size. Asia also holds over US$440 billion (S$582.37 billion) of potential economic profit – an amount set to increase over time, as the continent’s expanding middle-class continues to grow. 

Additionally, many Asian countries have made significant efforts to incentivise the entrance of foreign businesses, with measures ranging from Singapore’s Financial Sector Technology and Innovation Scheme to the Thailand 4.0 programme, which offers visa and tax exemptions to start-ups looking to establish themselves in the country. 


According to cloud-based connected planning platform company Anaplan, Western companies embarking on Asian expansion must first seek to understand just how diverse its various markets are in terms of language, culture, ease of doing business, available infrastructure, regulatory requirements, and business needs and norms, among other factors. 

For example, cultural differences can affect how people management frameworks are set up, noted Mr Mark Micallef, Anaplan’s senior vice president and managing director for Asia Pacific. The concept of lifelong company loyalty can be a common expectation in Japan, while employees in Indonesia may be expected to maintain workplace harmony – even at the expense of productivity.

Factoring so many variables into expansion strategies and analysing their impact can be a daunting task. That’s where a cloud-based enterprise platform, which enables companies to build a customised Asian roadmap, comes in. 


Anaplan's scalable and collaborative platform requires no code or custom development on the users’ end, enabling businesses to quickly onboard their data.

Mr Micallef said that while many enterprises in Asia today have already adopted data-driven strategies, a lot of the decision-making is still based on outdated or partial data, with limited intelligence from cross-functional partners and the broader ecosystem. 

To help companies make informed decisions swiftly and move at the speed of the market, Anaplan offers an intelligent real-time platform enables cross-functional connected planning by providing a single source of truth. This scalable and collaborative platform requires no code or custom development on the users’ end, enabling businesses to quickly onboard their data.

“Anaplan’s Connected Planning platform removes the legacy tools and systems that create business silos which, in turn, empowers cloud-based agility, continuous iteration and the delivery of timely, actionable insights,” Mr Micallef explained. “The level of granular and interconnected visibility throughout organisations will enable business leaders to better collaborate and make decisions on plans, forecasts and potential opportunities.” 

Leveraging cloud-based platforms can also offer an edge in a volatile global business environment, he added. Companies need to be sensitive to the market pulse and be agile enough to respond to changes – be they unexpected macroeconomic fluctuations or higher-value opportunities – without delay.
“As enterprises across Asia and the world continue to deal with escalating economic complexities and supply chain volatility, there will also be mounting pressure to stay on top of shifting consumer choices and environmental disruptions,” observed Mr Micallef. “Robust, data-driven planning is key to alleviating this unpredictability. Companies seeking streamlined operations and business continuity would benefit immensely from integrated planning.”

A 2021 survey commissioned by Anaplan in partnership with Deloitte revealed that for effective growth and transformation, business leaders must revamp their approach to planning by prioritising collaboration, agility and real-time impact. These can be achieved through improvements in technology, processes and people dynamics – all of which are made possible by connected planning, which offers a holistic view of data to inform leaders’ decisions in strategy and operations. 

“With Asia’s economies still being defined and refined amid the volatility, the platform also provides the ability and agility to model outcomes against these changing variables in real time,” added Mr Micallef. 

When it comes to breaking through in Asia, deploying the right tools and technologies can be the difference between success and failure. 

Said Mr Micallef: “The explosive growth experienced in the Asia-Pacific region over the past decade underscores the need for improved flows in business functions. Anaplan’s capabilities empower businesses to plan for success in key functions like finance, supply chain, sales and operations, to adapt to the nuanced Asia market.” 

Learn more about how Anaplan’s connected planning platform can take your business to the next stage of its expansion strategy.


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