Entrepreneurs 'will drive AEC'
The ability to adapt and anticipate change is key to navigating the changing business environment, business leaders were told yesterday.
"In business, players and performance indicators are constantly changing," Dipak Jain, director of Sasin Institute of Business Administration, told the Young Presidents Organization's Insights Asean Summit in Bangkok.
The two-day summit is exploring the opportunities and challenges of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) that will be created at the end of next year.
Mr Jain said human capital development would be the key focus, as people are the source of value creation as entrepreneurs.
"Companies such as Microsoft that drive the economy have only been created in the last 30-40 years and were started with a desire for entrepreneurism," he said.
"The younger generation are tired of routine. They need their creativity harnessed to get them engaged. If they are not going to work for you, they are going to work for someone else."
Companies must stay relevant through innovation and social significance.
"A recent trend for companies is corporate social responsibility, but not many firms have hired people so that they can give back to the community," said Mr Jain.
The challenge for global branding is how to make a company truly global if it is perceived as a local company in every market.
Mr Jain said a certain degree of ambiguity was required to succeed in Southeast Asia compared with the West.
Growth opportunities for the Asean region are in the areas of consumer wellness and tourism. There are no better countries than Thailand in those respects, he said.
"But Asean has to think like Europe by introducing some sort of Asean visa so that people don't have to worry about visas. If you promote the region, then you need to think from an investor's point of view."
Surin Pitsuwan, former secretary-general of Asean, gave a keynote speech on how Asean economic integration will help to attract investment opportunities to Asia.
Mr Surin said Thailand had 2 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that made a significant contribution to its GDP.
Thai SMEs could benefit the most from the AEC but only a few are moving forward to invest in neighbouring countries.
He cited corruption as an obstacle holding back Thailand, as well as a lack of investment in innovation, research and development, infrastructure and the rule of law.
"While Thailand is the second-largest economy in Asean, it ranks only fourth in terms of investment," said Mr Surin.