The GSMA has released its fifth annual report on Digital Societies in the Asia Pacific region ahead of this week’s Thrive Asia Pacific conference. The virtual event is scheduled to run from November 3 to November 5.
In the meantime, the Digital Societies Report: Asia Pacific 2020 emphasizes the importance of a whole-of-government approach (WGA) for countries that are looking to accelerate their digital transformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is based on a survey of public and private organizations in 11 key countries in the region, and tracked the progress of those countries in the areas of digital identity, citizenship, commerce, and lifestyle.
The roster of organizations involved in the report includes government agencies, mobile operators, and other digital specialists, who collectively represent Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Of those, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Thailand made the biggest advances on the digital society index, though every single country has improved its standing since the last report.
In that regard, the GSMA argues that a whole-of-government approach is crucial for countries that are hoping for a smooth transition. WGA implies that government agencies need to coordinate with the private sector and with each other when introducing digital transformation initiatives. Countries that do not coordinate will run into bureaucratic hurdles, and may also experience technical difficulties if organizations in one sector lag behind those in another. As a result, they may have trouble keeping pace with countries that are more organized.
Most of the countries in the survey expect to deliver on their Industry 4.0 initiatives within the next five years, which encompasses technologies like AI, 5G, and the IoT.
“It is time for ambitious thinking and public-private collaboration,” said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd. “Digitisation is moving fast up the agenda for businesses and governments and it’s their collaborative leadership that is driving digital inclusion.”
Thrive Asia Pacific is part of an ongoing virtual Thrive series that was launched to make up for the cancellation of in-person events. The GSMA has created a Regulatory Pilot Space for businesses in South Asia, and predicted that there will be a $331 billion investment in 5G infrastructure in the region over the course of the next five years.