The coming year will see companies in Asia Pacific (APAC) doubling down on technology-fuelled experiences, operations, products, and ecosystems.

According to Forrester’s Asia Pacific 2021 Predictions, the success of organisations will depend on how quickly and how well they harness technology to enable their workforce in the new normal and build platforms that differentiate them.

“The current economic climate has increased the urgency for every enterprise to embrace technology as a strategic asset. Asia Pacific is finally entering a decade of a digitally levelled playing field. Firms in the region will be at par with or even exceed the rest of the world in terms of technology-driven business model innovation. COVID-19 affected Asia Pacific first, and we expect it will also be the first to emerge from the crisis,” said Ashutosh Sharma, VP and research director at Forrester.

Key 2021 predictions from Forrester for APAC include:

Chief marketing officers will assert control over the full customer lifecycle

CMOs will put the customer at the centre of everything they do: leadership, strategy, and operations. The reinvention of themselves, their teams, and the marketing function will be the theme for successful CMOs in 2021. Forrester expects these CMOs to create new commercial and delivery models to keep their companies solvent.

As a result, spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30%. Marketers will reemphasise the value of their loyalty programmes and will mature from frequency-based rewards programmes to full-fledged loyalty programmes. Already, media money is shifting into retention methods, such as email and customer service, to create products that drive growth.

Values-focused firms will deliver higher profits than those focusing on profits alone

Up to one out of three customers in the APAC region make values-driven purchase decisions — and more will vote with their wallets and engage with brands that commit to ethical practices that support the local community and businesses in 2021. Brands can no longer work in shadows with a constant spotlight on each of their actions, statements, and associations across social media. Brands that tackle complex economic, environmental, and social challenges with integrity, competence, and transparency will earn the trust and loyalty of these values-based consumers. 

As a result, Forrester expects the number of Certified B Corporations - social enterprises verified by nonprofit B Lab based on how they create value for non-shareholding stakeholders, such as employees, local community and the environment – in APAC to increase by more than 25% to reach 500 in 2021, up from 394 in September 2020.

Platform wars will heat up in the region

With the battle for supremacy heating up in APAC, most companies will become platform businesses to survive in the digital era. Twenty-five percent of firms will shift from experimenting to pragmatically connecting the ecosystems essential to their customers.

Amazon’s expanded offerings and the rapid emergence of Jio Platforms will ignite a platform war in India, one that also includes Flipkart and Paytm. Beyond big tech, competition across the region will also intensify — among Alibaba,, and Pinduoduo in China; among Gojek, Grab, and Shopee in Southeast Asia; and among banks, tech companies, payment firms, and accounting software providers racing to build small business ecosystems. 

Sourced from Forrester