Our world is at an inflexion point - innovate to stay ahead of the curve, says EY Chief Innovation Officer | Asian Business Review

Our world is at an inflexion point - innovate to stay ahead of the curve, says EY Chief Innovation Officer

Steve Lo said that remaining agile is ever-so-important for companies in the increasingly fast-paced world of business and the global landscape.

Currently EY’s Asia-Pacific Chief Innovation Officer, Steve Lo is a management consultant in the TMT sector with over two decades of professional service experience in business performance improvement, specifically in enterprise sales and operations management for large-scale organisations primarily headquartered in Asia.

His recent focus is to advise these organisations on their innovation and globalization agendas.

Lo joined EY as a partner in January 2008 and had previously held EY’s Greater China Technology, Media, and Telecommunications (TMT) Managing Partner, Greater China Performance Improvement Advisory Leader and Asia-Pacific Telecommunications Industry Leader positions. He also had previous experiences in a global enterprise technology organisation as well as international management and technology consulting firm. 

He started his career as a design engineer with a global telecom equipment manufacturer in Canada.

With the pandemic and the fast-shifting geopolitical landscape, Lo observed that what industry players are witnessing now is an interesting paradox, with the decentralization of technological infrastructure and operations vis-à-vis the centralization of government policymaking and social values. He believes navigating this tightrope will require delicate manoeuvring and smart strategies but could yield incredible opportunities for the decade ahead.

As one of the judges for this year’s Asian Technology Excellence Awards, Lo regards the best technology solutions as often those that have simple solutions yet stay laser-focused on the business problem.

How has your experience in enterprise sales and operations management impacted your professional career? Can you tell us more about your leadership experiences in the Asia Pacific and China?

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to advise some of the largest corporations in the world on their most pressing business issues, ranging from technology strategies to operations improvement. Before my current role, I accumulated more than two decades of experience in management consulting and have since held leadership positions such as the leader of EY Greater China’s Business Consulting practice, Greater China’s TMT Market Unit, and APAC Telecommunications Industry. More recently, I took up the Asia-Pacific Chief Innovation Officer role to help realise EY’s strategic vision of being a digital-first, future-forward organization. As the APAC CIO working with EY’s Global innovation leaders, I lead a team across all Asia-Pacific regions and service lines to accelerate innovation through the ideation, incubation, and adoption of disruptive technologies and business models that deliver sustainable, transformative benefits to clients.

What are the current trends in business innovation and globalisation? Which ones do you think will be the most impactful moving forward?

Our world is at an inflexion point with technological innovation, and a lot of this has been driven by the recent collision and reorientation of digital, geopolitical, and economic forces. Often, large-scale implosions such as financial crises and shifts in the geopolitical landscape provide the occasion for fundamental changes in the way people work and live, not to mention priority shifts in the way governments set policy. We’ve seen that happen with the rise of Bitcoin post-global recession and the normalization of remote work and virtual collaboration post-COVID. Climate change issues have also led to companies placing a greater emphasis on sustainability and long-term value initiatives, where previously such matters would likely have taken a back seat in terms of focus and funding.

How can companies better approach business transformation amidst a recovering economy? What strategies would you advise them?

The new normal brings plenty of opportunities for businesses to embark on a transformation journey, with the business landscape quite literally ‘disrupted’ by the recent global events. It is a great time for companies to challenge the status quo and try new ways of running their businesses with their employees and with their customers. One good example is how large firms are rethinking how their employees balance their work arrangements between remote and office with tools and facilities to drive productivity and employee satisfaction. That said, remaining agile from a strategic standpoint is ever-so-important for companies in the increasingly fast-paced world of business and the global landscape. I advise companies to always have multiple plans in place and implement a thorough risk management framework to continuously review corporate strategies and enable their business functions to be able to quickly respond to changing circumstances. 

As a judge in the Asia Technology Excellence Awards, what projects or innovations are you expecting to find amongst the entries? What are your criteria for judging?

It gives me great pleasure to participate in the Asia Technology Excellence Awards as I get to review and learn about the latest and greatest innovative ideas being incubated across Asia. The best technology solutions I have seen are often those that have simple solutions yet stay laser-focused on the business problem. In the past year, we have seen new trends in technologies such as Web3 and new use cases of blockchain rising to prominence, so I look forward to seeing creative new applications of such technologies from this year’s entries. 

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