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Stories Asia

When a crisis becomes an opportunity

A culture of innovation fuels business resilience and economic recovery

Innovation becomes a necessity in a time of crisis. And history tells us that by adapting, humankind can progress to a much better place. With COVID-19, “we have witnessed firsthand how a wave of transformative change has swept across the region,” says Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia. “This is no easy feat; organizations have challenges to overcome, and innovation is no longer a luxury. It has to form the core part of an organization’s DNA.”

Many in the business world agree. A new Microsoft-IDC study, Culture of Innovation, Foundation for business resilience and economic recovery in Asia Pacific, shows that 41% of organizations surveyed regard the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate and rethink their business models. The same enterprises also expect to bounce back with similar or better revenues than before the current economic crisis.


Ahmed MazhariCulture of innovation: A recipe for economic recovery and resilience

Why does innovation matter? Shouldn’t we minimize risk and play it safe during a crisis? In the struggle for survival, doesn’t it make more sense to conserve resources and hunker down? On the contrary, innovative organizations expect to recover from the pandemic faster. One-third of culture of innovation leaders expect to increase market share despite the pandemic. And 45% expect their businesses to fully recover in less than six months. To attain resilience and success, we will need to look to the key four ingredients in the culture of innovation.


All great chefs know that the best dishes come about through generations of experimentation, innovation, and improving from feedback with customer-centricity in mind. In the same way, we must not be complacent but seek constant improvement in these four areas – people, data, processes, and technology – to serve the people we are impacting better.

Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia

A culture of innovation fuels business resilience and economic recovery

  • 74% of all business decision-makers in Asia Pacific say innovation is now a ‘must’, not just a good to have; they see the ability to innovate as vital to performance and resilience, according to a new Microsoft-IDC study
  • Almost all (98%) leading organizations with the most advanced culture of innovation share the same belief that innovation is key to responding quickly to market challenges and opportunities; they are more resilient to crises like the current pandemic, and expect to recover faster
    • 50% more leaders, in comparison with other organizations, expect to grow their revenue in 2020
    • 1 in 3 leaders expect to increase their market share despite the pandemic
    • 45% of leaders believe that their organizations will recover from the COVID-19 crisis in six months or less


What our customers say …

A model airplane on a desk

Primed for post-pandemic growth

“COVID-19 has profoundly affected our business and the industry as a whole. As the crisis unfolded, we moved quickly to streamline our operations and reduce costs, which led to us fast-tracking our transformation plans and reimagining the way we operate as a global business.” – Chris Locke, Flight Centre Travel Group, Australia


a diagram

Digital mapmakers join virus response

“We’re native residents of the Azure platform and it’s quite clear that to do modern systems development you need to use the capabilities of the cloud. Microsoft’s tools enabled us to develop our model so much faster than we could have otherwise.” – Stephen Grice, CloseAssociate, New Zealand


working from home

Safety for customers during COVID-19

“It is imperative we extend the capability of automation not only to our IT team, but across all employees of the bank. Thanks to our partnership with Microsoft, now our whole team can truly be digital to the core.” – Paulo Martin Santos, UnionBank, Philippines


Reimagining the future of post

“Azure’s design as a true hybrid across infrastructure, apps, and data, allows SingPost to achieve end-to-end transformation with our postal operations as well as accelerate application innovation, which is critical in helping us reimagine the future of post.” – Vincent Phang, SingPost, Singapore


Re-imagining how to hire tech talent

“The world is facing a problem where everyone is either reskilling or upskilling to stay relevant in their current jobs or are finding new ones. People have to continuously keep learning. But just learning doesn’t help. One has to measure this knowledge and find ways of quantifying it.” – Sujit Karpe. iMocha, India


Making credit flow during the pandemic

“Technology is the key enabler here … We fundamentally believe in what Microsoft does, which is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Both companies are trying to solve one common problem, which is how we can use technology to solve customer problems?” – Mukesh Sharma,, India


Dancing through the new reality

“Optimism is a powerful force. Our culture and ballet family gives us strength and we will return to the stage with a renewed vigor and as strong as ever. And we’re excited to keep exploring how technology can help us reimagine the way we work and connect with our audiences.” – David McAllister, The Australian Ballet, Australia


Transforming with high steaks

“By consolidating the global offices and New Zealand into one Alliance tenant, productivity has skyrocketed; communication and collaboration are now seamless … People love it. They’re no longer having machines crash and they can just sign on and work effectively from anywhere.” – James Dring, Alliance, New Zealand


Understand consumers, upskill workers

“Our approach to innovation is: ‘We need to do this, with specific goals, from top to bottom.’ People must be able to feel the benefits that transformation brings to the entire company and its employees .” – Marvin Lee, Far EasTone Telecommunications, Taiwan


Step-by-step innovation

“We do not limit where an idea comes from. It can be internal or cross-department … but we can work closely together.” Wei Bi, Lenovo, China


Protecting pharmaceutical supply chains

“Everybody was impacted. Everybody had to wake up to a new reality. We had to adapt.. Because we upgraded the company’s systems and migrated to cloud-based services with Microsoft Azure, what would have taken weeks to do before can now be done in days. What would have taken months or years to launch can now be implemented in weeks.” – Tom Vanmolkot, Zuellig Pharma, Asia Pacific


Saving Sri Lanka’s tea industry

A new e-auction solution “has transformed the lives of almost two million people in the Sri Lanka tea industry by sheltering them from the consequences of a COVID-19 shutdown. The e-auction, with all its competitiveness and nuances, was launched in less than a week through herculean effort, dedication, strong collaboration between stakeholders.” –  Anil Cooke, Ceylon Tea Trade Association, Sri Lanka


The culture of powering up

“Over the years, Meralco gradually came into this culture of adaptability that is distinctly ours. It’s a key strength of this company, and it’s not something we stumbled upon it’s something we built. That kind of culture is the best foundation to build upon, through technology, to achieve growth and transformation.” – Ray Espinosa, Manila Electric Company, Philippines


Agility in a changing market

“In our original business case, we were very focused on the flexibility to scale up the environment in line with the strong growth trajectory the business has been on. In this situation we’ve been able to scale down and reduce that cost, knowing that as the industry recovers and volumes increase, we can turn things back up. Just a whole level of flexibility that we’ve never had before.” – Andrew Stoneham, Joval Wine Group, Australia


Helping farmers

“Our digital strategy … fully supports our overall commitment to develop the economy from the grassroots level and sustainably elevate the quality of life for farmers. Modern organizations have to adjust their strategies and objectives to fit current circumstances in an agile and flexible way. In many cases, success now requires cooperation across multiple parties and can no longer be attained by a sole winner.” – Apirom Sukprasert, Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives, Thailand


Disrupting fashion with data

“The amount of data from which we learn today is six to seven times more than the pre-COVID world … We’re now selling what consumers want and not what we want to sell. The credit also goes to the brands that responded to these insights in a matter of days and not weeks.” – Amar Nagaram, Myntra, India


Responding to a pandemic

“The care of our patients and staff is always our number one priority … Technology has the potential to help us closely track the progress of patients from afar without breaking (COVID-19) quarantine or isolation, keeping patients connected to arrange urgent medical care, if required. It’s also incredibly exciting to think about some of the future benefits we may be able to offer to our patients.” – Dr. Jason Kwong, Austin Health, Australia


Automating agriculture

“We are fully aligned with Microsoft’s mission of empowering others. We want to improve the lives of people around the world with technology … Once you set up a 3D model of the farm, you don’t need to modify it until you do some modification or construction work that alters the plot. So you can use it for many years.” –  James Wu, FJ Dynamics, China


Clean energy innovation

“Both Microsoft’s products and its people were critical to the regulator’s rapid and successful move to the cloud ‘just in time’ to quickly work from home in response to COVID-19.  We now have a strong foundation to pursue further innovation.” – Mark Williamson, Clean Energy Regulator, Australia


Transforming customer experiences

“We see the opportunities going forward to create more visibility and transparency on the customer journey. The system puts the power in the customer’s hands, in terms of when, where and how they want to interact with us.” – Nick Mittas, Bankwest, Australia