KPMG’s Darren Yong: AI holds vast potential for the TMT industry, driving growth and enhanced customer experiences | Asian Business Review

KPMG’s Darren Yong: AI holds vast potential for the TMT industry, driving growth and enhanced customer experiences

KPMG Asia's Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications highlighted eight key areas of focus for companies that are strengthening their digital transformation initiatives.

The TMT (technology, media, and telecommunications) industry in Asia has experienced remarkable growth and transformation in recent years. Increased digital connectivity, rapid urbanisation and a growing middle class are amongst the factors that contributed to its success. Amidst the ever-evolving world of technology, TMT companies in the region are seen as a dynamic and influential force.

One of the leaders in the field is Darren Yong, the Head of Technology, Media & Telecommunications at KPMG Asia Pacific. He is heading Client & Market Development for the region and is part of the Asia Pacific Leadership team. With over 28 years of experience in Technology and Consulting, Yong is passionate about bringing emerging technology solutions to clients.

Some of Yong’s key technology engagements at KPMG include those that cover strategy, data migration, cloud, and blockchain. He has also supported clients across various sectors, specialising in business strategy, transformation, cyber security, data and analytics, and cloud.

Asian Business Review had a discussion with Yong to talk about his insights on the performance of Asia’s TMT industry, the importance of ESG compliance for TMT companies, and strengthening digital transformation initiatives.

How would you assess the performance of Asia's TMT industry in the past year? Is there anything worth noting?

The Asia Pacific TMT industry continues to evolve at a pace. Local models continue to proliferate and with the continued rise of Super-apps, it has been an exciting industry to be involved in. We have seen technologies such as blockchain, AI/ML and 5G continue to increase in adoption in markets such as China, Japan, Korea and ASEAN. The use case adoption and acceleration of these technologies have further put Asia on the global stage as companies around the world continue to understand how hyperlocal, digital models are solving unique market challenges. These insights help create collaboration and ideation and provide inputs for other markets to think differently. 

As sustainability programmes and ESG initiatives become compelling factors in an organisation’s long-term performance, how can Asia’s TMT companies better comply with these demands? Why is it important to do so?

All companies need to play an active role in ESG and Asian TMT companies play a critical role in making an impact. These responsibilities cover areas such as child labour, advancing the diversity agenda, and most prominently, the de-carbonisation journey. With tech, data centre and telecom companies consuming disproportionately large amounts of power, the importance of how such companies map and execute their decarbonisation journey is increasingly important. In addition to their individual contributions, we are seeing multiple tech companies provide ESG platforms to report and share ESG data with their ecosystem. This sharing of information can help enable all companies to advance their ESG journey. Companies can make a further impact by introducing clear targets and driving more accountability across all parts of the business.

With the rise of AI usage across sectors, how can the TMT industry maximise this technology? What are the benefits and opportunities this presents for the industry?

AI can impact all parts of a business including the front, middle and back office by delivering value to improve decision-making, identify growth opportunities and reduce risk across the business. We are seeing that with AI more hyper-personalised experiences are emerging, elevating the customer experience and providing companies a real-time competitive edge in the market.

These insights can lead to better predictions and more evolved ‘next best actions’. By applying these new models, businesses can automate processes and actions that would allow scarce skills to be redeployed to higher-value tasks. Large language learning models deployed within an organisation can ingest huge amounts of data, previously impossible for a human to do, and provide more complete access to assets and information across different parts of the business. This complete insight and advanced intelligence can provide immense benefits not only internally but also to advance research.

Amidst a growing digital ecosystem, how can companies strengthen their digital transformation initiatives? How can they implement these initiatives more consistently whilst ensuring their systems’ security?

Companies need to focus on a number of areas to ensure they remain digitally agile. The DNA of an organisation needs to continue to evolve internally whilst also adapting to ever-changing external factors in the market. There are eight key areas that will help companies stay relevant internally, these being: building a culture of innovation; fostering cross-functional collaboration; ensuring modular technology architecture; the proliferation of agile ways of working; and investing in talent and employee development. Supporting these internal dimensions are some areas that keep the company connected to a fast-paced external environment, which includes: identifying disruptive business models; prioritising key emerging technologies; and building strong ecosystem partnerships. A company should have some key measures that ensure human capital, technology agility, and business models are all aligned and constantly re-evaluated to ensure a consistent approach to their broader digital agenda. 

As one of the judges for this year’s Asian Technology Excellence Awards, what qualities are you looking for in the winners?

In a fast-moving environment, individuals that can extrapolate and connect in ways that demonstrate their ability to solve complex client problems in elegant ways using technology would be well regarded. Coupled with a commercial view that can deliver scalable value for businesses, these combined qualities would elevate any submission.

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