Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia.

AuthorChen, Lurong

Digital transformation entails the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business. It fundamentally changes how a business operates and delivers value to customers by expanding choices and lowering transaction costs (World Bank 2016; UNCTAD 2017; Graham 2019). Digital technologies also create new ways of integrating organizations and accessing markets. This allows domestic companies to be more globally integrated. At the societal level, digital technologies can address developmental and social challenges such as access to basic needs including healthcare, education and financial services. The application of digital technologies in government machinery can foster greater transparency, increase efficiency and lower corruption (UNCTAD 2017).

From a research perspective, studies on digital transformation have mushroomed in recent years. The scope and coverage of these studies are broad, covering diverse topics such as the impact of e-commerce (e.g., OECD 2019c; Cohen and Kallirroi 2006; Numberger and Rennhak 2005), adoption of digital technologies such as robotics, Big Data and Internet of Things (OECD 2019b), drivers of digital transformation in organizations (Nadkarni and Prugl 2020) and the application of new technologies in everyday life (MGI 2016; OECD 2019a). In addition, quite a number of studies have examined policy changes and legal reforms that have been necessitated by digital transformation. These policy-oriented publications have focused on topics such as privacy, data standards and protection, intellectual property rights, internet governance and cybersecurity (OECD 2012; OECD 2019c; Acemoglu and Restrepo 2016; Arntz, Gregory and Zierahn 2016; Acemoglu 1998). International organizations have also published flagship reports that address the importance and impact of digital transformation but with different foci. These reports have highlighted digital infrastructure, finance (digital currency and digital payment), market competition, taxation and trade, and have fed into policymaking for digital transformation.

Policymakers from around the world have formulated and implemented numerous initiatives and programmes to harness the potential benefits of digital transformation. Historically, earlier policies focused on investment in basic "hard" infrastructures for the digital economy such as mobile communications, Internet backbone and satellites. More recent policies and programmes have emphasized the "soft"...

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