EY’s Chow Sang Hoe advocates businesses' roles in socio-economic development through collaboration, innovation, ESG  | Asian Business Review

EY’s Chow Sang Hoe advocates businesses' roles in socio-economic development through collaboration, innovation, ESG 

The EY Managing Partner shared key drivers for successful digital transformation, emphasising leadership, clear strategy, cultural change, employee engagement, and communication.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, the relationship between digital transformation and nation-building has become increasingly apparent. Innovative technologies and a strategic vision for societal progress are dynamic forces that shape economies and propel nations forward.

Chow Sang Hoe, the Managing Partner of Consulting Malaysia at EY, has extensive experience and passion in both nation-building and digital transformation. Chow Sang Hoe has over 35 years of expertise in business consulting, strategy, and transformation. As Managing Partner, he has been a key influencer in the ASEAN consulting industry, serving as the ASEAN Consulting Leader for EY for nearly 8 years. His commitment to nation-building and digital transformation is evident through his role in building Technology Consulting from the ground up in the ASEAN region, including strategic acquisitions to enhance capabilities in design, technology, innovation, and analytics.

As a judge in the 2024 Malaysia National Business Awards and Malaysia International Business Awards, he delves into his insights and perspectives on the critical interplay between digital transformation and nation-building. He uncovers effective strategies to stay ahead of industry trends and ensure teams remain at the forefront of cutting-edge solutions.

What do you see as the key drivers for successful digital transformation initiatives in today's business landscape?

Key drivers include:

  • Leadership: successful digital transformation greatly depends on the leadership team's vision, commitment, and effectiveness. Leaders must create a clear roadmap for transformation and communicate effectively with their teams.
  • Clear strategy and vision: businesses need a clear vision and strategy for what they hope to achieve with digital transformation. This strategy should include goals, objectives, KPIs/measures for success, and plans for managing/ mitigating risks.
  • Cultural change: transforming a business digitally isn't just about new technologies; it's about changing the organisational culture. The change should focus on innovation, agility, customer-centricity, data-driven decisions, and continuous learning.
  • Engaging employees: employees are critical to sustaining and institutionalising transformation initiatives. Ensuring they are involved in the process and understand the need for change is key. Training and development programmes should be implemented to reinforce new skills and behaviours.
  • Effective communications: clear and effective communications targeting both internal and external stakeholders is important to ensure, everyone is aligned and working towards the same goal.

Considering your passion for nation-building, how do you see the role of businesses in contributing to the socio-economic development of Malaysia? What strategies can companies adopt to align their business goals with national development objectives?

Businesses can contribute to socio-economic development and align with national development in three ways:

  • Supply chain and MSME development: larger businesses can contribute to the development of local supply chains and smaller businesses through partnerships and supply chain collaborations. This will result in a more diverse and resilient business ecosystem.
  • Investing in innovation and digital technology: companies that invest in innovation and technology drive productivity, promote efficiency, and introduce new products or services. This tends to drive adoption and competitiveness within their sector ecosystems.
  • Adopting ESG practices: companies that adopt and integrate ESG standards and principles into their business practices play a vital role in creating a more sustainable economy.

What strategies have you found effective in staying ahead of industry trends and ensuring that a team remains at the forefront of cutting-edge solutions?

Some of the strategies we use as a team are:

  • Listening to our clients: by understanding the issues, challenges, and strategic plans of our clients, we are able to identify where we should invest our time and resources to develop solutions and capabilities.
  • Continuous learning: we encourage employees to continuously learn and develop their skills, ensuring readiness to adapt to industry shifts. Resources, training, and opportunities for skill development are provided to ensure team members stay abreast of the latest technologies and industry developments.
  • Market and competitive analysis: We regularly monitor market trends and activities our competitors undertake, which can provide valuable insights on market expectations and trends.

Could you elaborate on the specific criteria or qualities you look for when assessing the performance and impact of a business for the Malaysia National Business Awards and Malaysia International Business Awards?

  • Market share and growth: understanding the company's market share and position, how it has grown over time, and its potential for future growth.
  • Innovation: assessing the level of innovation applied in the business process, product development, services, and technologies implemented.
  • Sustainability: the company’s efforts towards sustainability and adherence to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards and principles.
  • Impact on the economy and country: evaluating the company's role in the development of Malaysia’s economy and impact on domestic or even global socio-economic development.

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