Game Changers

Anticipate demand, use big data and innovate if you want a competitive edge

Business leaders at the Game Changers Disrupt for New Business Growth conference say start-ups and incumbents can learn from one another

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 10:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 November, 2016, 10:58pm

Hong Kong companies must anticipate consumer demand, use big data to learn more about their customers and promote internal innovation to help fend off competition, according to business leaders.

Speaking at the Game Changers Disrupt for New Business Growth conference held by the South China Morning Post on Tuesday, Michael Perry, director of strategic partnerships from Chinese drone maker DJI, said the company actively developed new technology based on customer demands.

Perry said technology developed by DJI to ensure its drones avoid obstacles was a product of listening to users, and that by taking on the views of customers the company was able to stay ahead of its competitors.

“DJI has a competitive advantage because we own all the technology as much as possible, we are a full-stack company,” he said. “So if there is any anticipation or direction we see the market going, we can anticipate it and actually drive that change.”

Shenzhen-based DJI is the world’s largest maker of unmanned aerial vehicle for consumers and is valued at around US$10 billion.

Predictive ordering is going to become very useful to us
Thilo Fuchs, co-founder, BottlesXO

Companies can also listen to consumers and hunt for trends by analysing the data they collect from their customers, no matter what the volume of that information.

Thilo Fuchs, co-founder and chief innovation officer of wine delivery start-up BottlesXO, which operates in Shanghai, Suzhou, Hong Kong and Singapore, said that even though the company is some way off facing the challenge of “big data,” - large, complex data sets that must be analysed computationally to reveal trends - it is already examining consumer data.

“We’re just a year old, so the database we have is relatively small but of course we see purchasing patterns, we see behaviours coming up. Predictive ordering is going to become very useful to us,” Fuchs said, adding that analysing information such as traffic patterns would allow the start-up to shorten delivery times.

While there is much talk of start-ups stealing business from incumbents such as banks, hotels or taxi firms, the Game Changers panellists said companies shouldn’t necessarily be afraid of new market entrants and can in fact learn from start-ups to promote internal innovation.

Dane Fisher, general manager for business transformation and brand at Infiniti Global, said Infiniti Motors had learnt a great deal about innovation since it launched an accelerator for smart cities start-ups based at its Hong Kong headquarters last year.

“Start-ups are fast thinking, they’re quick to market but they’re stupid, because I’m always surprised at their lack of commercial nous. Now companies, corporates, are dumb in a different way: they are paralysed by fear,” Fisher said. “The opportunity is to put them together. I’m obviously being provocative, but that’s the exciting opportunity that we’re starting to see.”

Fisher said hosting an accelerator programme and having conversations with the start-ups on the scheme had promoted new ideas and internal innovation at the company.