Steps to unlock data barriers and open global growth prospects

“Going global” used to be a distant dream for companies in Singapore, Malaysia, and other Asia-Pacific markets. However, the previous barriers to world trade, such as language, time zones, and cultural differences, are no longer insurmountable.

Today, affordable technologies, social media, and mobile devices have made global expansion a reality for more regional companies and markets. South Korea serves as an excellent example of this trend. As a manufacturing and tech powerhouse, South Korea has risen to prominence, thanks in part to the “Hallyu” cultural wave led by K-pop, drama, film, fashion, and cuisine. Other Asian markets can look to South Korea’s success as a model to aspire to.

Although South Korea’s success story is inspiring, it took decades to achieve. For those with shorter timelines, identifying the right audience and ideal customers is a crucial first step before reaching out to them.

Data makes the world go round

Finding the right audience hinges on data. After working with diverse customers for decades, the issue of fragmented distribution and divergent laws around the collection and distribution of data across markets presents significant challenges.

Asian companies have acknowledged these challenges and plan to take action. According to a Data and Content Technologies 2023 Predictions report released by the IDC, up to 50% of leading Asian-based companies will include CDOs, CISOs, and CLOs on data risk management committees by 2025.

This foresight, vision, and commitment to building strong data management foundations are commendable. Expert data teams, combined with the right-fit tech stacks in accordance with local regulations, will enable companies to unlock data compliance and customer insights to build meaningful engagement around the world.

In my experience, there are three recommended strategic moves for AP companies preparing to take on the world and achieve this end goal.

Eliminate data silos

Many multinational companies use localised brands, banners, and subsidiaries in overseas markets which results in data being siloed and inaccessible to other businesses, preventing collaboration to enrich their own data.

While ad-hoc integrations have been introduced to de-silo, a consolidated data layer ingesting and exporting data from multiple sources into a centralised place is a more secure, accessible, reliable, and transparent alternative.

With first-party data becoming more essential as the impact and value of third-party cookies diminish, companies need to evaluate what types of data provide the best returns. For example, diverse social media platforms around the globe may offer different returns on investment depending on the country and region. If data silos exist, however, marketers can’t analyse these to make informed decisions.

Global security and compliance

Digital transformation on a global scale can also unravel when privacy compliance risks are left unchecked. If attempts to unify/standardise best data practices across countries are done haphazardly, the risk of security and privacy compliance issues will increase.

Doing it right requires investing in technologies that can both aggregate customer data and comply with national or regional regulations. Cost-effectively mitigating compliance risk is paramount, especially for companies that are sitting on a mass quantity of actionable customer data.

Having unique data systems living and operating in every individual company would, theoretically, enhance compliance, but architecturally, this often creates inefficiencies that come with data silos.

Alternatives include solutions to help brands centralise and activate their data operations such as data warehouses, data lakes, CRMs, and customer data platforms. Some options can also help companies to bypass issues related to data protection laws around the world.

Laws such as General Data Protection Regulation for EU markets have compelled companies to double down on security and compliance. Looking ahead, future-proofing data governance strategies by adopting solutions that can adapt to changing regulatory landscapes is a priority goal for internationally focused companies.

Get to know your new market and audiences

Given APAC’s diverse cultural, demographic, social, economic, and size differences, it takes time and effort to find the right target customers or segments in various markets.

A brewing company seeking growth in the Asia-Pacific, for example, must know and comply with data privacy laws in each market. In addition, they must also be familiar with critical legislation around minimum drinking ages and advertising restrictions to avoid marketing to underage customers.

Recognising the importance of a comprehensive, integrated approach to customer data is an important first step for regional companies with global ambitions.

To sum up, a commitment to removing data silos and implementing tools and technology that provide a holistic view of target audiences is the blueprint to success. But these measures must comply with local or regional data laws – so make time to get your “regulatory ducks in a row.”

Get these essentials right, and a product made in Kalang or Kuala Lumpur could soon be big in Krakow or Kansas – the world of opportunity is exciting and endless today.