The ASEAN ICT Challenge

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations – known as ASEAN – comprises 10 nations with a combined population of 600 million people and total GDP of $3.5 trillion.

The population is about twice that of the US, with a total economy twice that of India.

ASEAN is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, but strives to be unstintingly fair in the distribution of its events, programs, and emphasis. The ASEAN region covers a range of language, religion, governments, and culture that is breathtaking in its scope.

Yet its members’ national leaders seem uniform in their commitment to regional cooperation and peace. This can put the association at occasional odds with Western powers when it treats Myanmar (former Burma) with the same consideration as, say, the Philippines.

We’ve been able to produce rankings for eight of the ASEAN nations in our research: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. We’re missingly only Brunei and Myanmar at this point.

Among the ASEAN nations, Vietnam ranks among the Top 10 in our overall global rankings, Singapore among the Top 25. They are joined by the Philippines in our Top 25 global measuremnt of raw potential.

In our “Goldilocks” rankings, which seek to determine the Top 25 ICT environments that are growing just right (neither too hot nor too cold), we find Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand.

So we’ve found positive measures in each of the eight countries we’ve researched. There are clear, often severe challenges in most of these places, of course. We never want to minimize the difficulty of addressing those challenges.

Wide Range
There is also a wide range of ICT development throughout the region, from Singapore’s 30Mb average bandwidth to less than 2Mb in the Philippines, and Singapore’s 75% Internet connectivity to Cambodia’s 3.1%. Average income ranges across 1.7 magnitudes, as does the relative cost of living.

With our relative approach to analyzing ICT environments, we find that there are hopeful signs throughout the ASEAN nations. For example, cloud computing is a big topic in the social- and mobile-driven cultures of the Philippines and Indonesia; in Laos, where abundant hydroelectric power is drawing investment in a place ripe for new datacenters; in cyber-centric Malaysia; etc.

In response, I’m working with local firms throughout the ASEAN region to develop a SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) Seminar Series in 2014. We’ve already scheduled our first event in Manila on April 24.

I’m also working to link our ASEAN series with a major cloud event in Beijing March 27-28, and an emerging user-driven Cloud APAC organization. Tweet me for details!

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