Governance & Compliance Megatrends in 2021

Decision-makers in the board room need to be aware of these emerging trends that will shape this year and the years ahead. (Adapted from the “Gearing Up For Digital Corporate Meetings” webinar in November 2020, with updated content)


1. China’s Ascent

The house of China is quickly gaining dominance in the global arena and is doing so across many verticals. Chinese companies and affiliates are aggressively expanding, and several notable companies are entering Singapore, seeing the nation-state as a steppingstone to the world. Tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance are blazing the trial in this regard. As geopolitical tensions with the United States persist, Singapore becomes an ideal location due to its comparative advantage in tech maturity, ease of business, geographic proximity to China, and its status as an innovation hub in Southeast Asia.

2. Trade war

The continuing trade wars between US-

China will further bifurcate technology stacks – one from the West, and one from China. Technology companies need to shift from managing one technology stack, to potentially managing two distinct sets of technology. In reality, managing two tech stacks might not be feasible for all companies, but business leaders will need to consider how to navigate an increasingly complex tech landscape as they build technological solutions for their customers.

3. Sustainability

Sustainability is here to stay. While many companies are taking nascent steps to adopt sustainable practices through increased environmental awareness and workforce diversity, governments and consumers are demanding that companies do more to address sustainability more holistically. Expect to see enhanced regulations and public advocacy for sustainable practices, that will encompass the whole range of matters that cover environmental, social, governance, and ethical concerns.

4. Artificial Intelligence

We are witnessing a revolution in enterprise technology with the adoption of AI. Today, AI helps us pilot cars and aeroplanes, and even recommends products and services that consumers are likely to buy. In time to come, AI will be even more prevalent with the increasing digitalisation, and will be embedded a variety of business applications. The reasons are simple: AI allows companies to scale faster, increase cost-efficiency and reliability, and make smarter decisions. While it is not without deep concerns – operational and ethical – the AI revolution continues to shape and reinvent the way we live.

5. Acceleration of Change

With digitalisation, the pace of change will continue to accelerate. In the past, it took 75 years for the adoption of the traditional telephone to hit 50 million customers. Today, it only takes 24 hours for a popular content creator on YouTube to hit 50 million views. In business, the world saw how two years of transformation plans were forced to be compressed into two months because of the global pandemic. Change is upon us, and the way we live, work, and play needs to adapt faster than we have ever done before.

6. Speed and Timing is Key

With the introduction of any new offerings, speed and timing are crucial. For instance, Facebook overtook Myspace to become the largest and most dominant player in the social networking market as it was introduced just when the market was ready, with the rising broadband availability and the adoption of the Internet. Understanding the conditions to enter and win in the market will be crucial to how companies thrive in a fast-changing business environment.

7. Business Model Disruption

The rise of new technologies and new transformative innovations invariably impacts the way we conduct and remain profitable as businesses. To keep up with change, businesses must start considering how to use these new technologies and transformative innovations to their advantage. While it is tempting to use what’s “tried-and-true”, business models that remove inefficiencies while providing robust value will win. An example is how pay-per-use models for Software-as-a-service platforms are changing how customers buy and grow with enterprise software tools.

8. Gig economy

The boom of the gig economy, such as

Fiverr and Upwork allows organisations and freelancers to connect with each other at any part of the world. The gig economy brings about benefits such as specialised skills at cost-effective rates, while giving gig economy workers unparalleled freedom. The evolving nature of work demands that organisations open their minds to new ways of managing and engaging their workforce, which will likely look very different from 9-to-5 corporate offices of the past.

9. Realtime not Batch

The demand for real-time situational awareness means information and feedback must be served real-time, instead of delayed reporting. Consumers today are accustomed to up-to-date, on-demand, real-time updates, which they experience with same-day, 2-hour delivery services. Similarly, businesses have deployed sophisticated IoT and AI solutions to provide real-time insights into operational performance. Businesses that deliver instancy will stay ahead of the competition for years to come.

10. Human-machine Interface Design

Interface designs that focus on enhancing the quality of a user’s experience are key to enabling organisations to operate more smoothly and easily. It’s a paradox, but as we become more technologically advanced, it makes it all the more important to optimise human interactions – it’s a part of the technology revolution that gets missed so very often. It is vital that business leaders consider how they can humanise their digital transformation efforts as they race to remain ahead.

11. Data

One of the biggest shifts in the past decade is the dethroning of oil and gas giants in the public markets. Today, tech giants rule the markets. The dominance of technology is likely to last for the foreseeable future. As the world moves from from an oil-based economy to a data-driven one, business leaders must learn to leverage and incorporate the use data in their organisation’s offerings. These emerging trends are by no means exhaustive, but they represent fundamental and seismic shifts in the way we operate in the world of the future. Business leaders need to ask themselves if they are doing enough to recognise these seismic shifts, and if they are preparing their organisations to be future ready.

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