|Indonesia's online promise is huge but the earth remains shaky.|
Tuesday, 17th April 2012
Source : Yeoh Siew Hoon
On the plane returning from Jakarta yesterday, I was reading an article by Banyan Tree executive chairman Ho Kwon Ping; he was warning Asia’s business leaders about 'hubris in Asian triumphalism'.
He said, “My biggest fear is that in the rush towards the exuberant expectation that Asia’s time has finally come, we will fall victim to the biggest reason for failure in the history of the world: simple hubris.”
His premise is that while Asia was getting some things right, there were others that needed correction – “ethical wealth creation”, for one, to bridge the divide between rich and poor. “Asia requires profoundly different and diverse, innovative thought leadership if its economic rise is to result in a sustainable, new paradigm for cilvilisational progress,” he wrote.
“In particular, Asia needs to inculcate a virtuous cycle whereby business, political and social leaders all interact to create new norms of economic, social and political behaviour as well as values. Simply following what used to work in the West is no roadmap for future success.”
His words resonated because I had just spent 24 hours in Jakarta, caught up in the euphoria of business leaders who are dreaming and scheming of a brand new tomorrow for their businesses.
After China and India, Indonesia’s the most-watched market right now, particularly in the online and ecommerce sector. Smartphone penetration is high among urban folk. They have skipped PC and gone straight to mobile - scenes depicted in this photo (right) are typical where the mobile holds more attraction than the person you are with.
The country is at tipping point for an affluent middle class to emerge, people tell me. Given Indonesia’s population, they say that makes up nearly 20 million addressable consumers with travel increasingly an aspiration and necessity.
Credit card penetration is low but consumers are used to making payments via ATM and bank transfers through their mobile. Solutions providers are working on payment gateways that will eventually solve the payment problem.
The online travel market remains wide open for someone to triumph and dominate.
Foreign brands such as booking.com and Agoda are strong on predominantly Bali hotel bookings but this country, as we know, is more than just Bali.