Appier at Tech In Asia 2019: Insights and Outlooks

Appier shares views on what we can expect to see in tech as we approach 2020 at the Tech In Asia Conference

This week, the Tech In Asia Conference was held at the Jakarta Convention Center and Appier was represented by Magic Tu, our VP of Product Management; and Michelle Wong, our SVP of Enterprise Solutions. The event was buzzing with startups, entrepreneurs, founders, corporates and investors all looking to find out what we can expect to see in tech as we approach 2020.

On Tuesday afternoon, Magic joined two other AI experts to discuss how to monetize the technology. There is certainly still some mystery for many organizations when it comes to either using AI-powered products internally to increase productivity and reduce costs; or to selling AI-based products. Tu, along with Reynir Fauzan (Kata.ai) and Joe Harahap (Insider), shared advice on how to know when to invest in and implement AI – both in terms of purchasing it or applying it. A few of the key takeaways were:

  • AI isn’t a solution to every business problem, and as a provider of AI solutions, you can’t shove it into customers’ mouths! You must start by defining the business problems first, and then identify the things AI can support. The same goes for implementing it internally.
  • An initial investment into AI will likely be significant, so it is important to understand what AI can and cannot do, or what the machine can and cannot learn. 
  • When it comes to applying AI, partner with an expert or provider who can advise you on the best implementation – you don’t have to know all the ins and outs yourself, you just have to know the business challenge you want to solve and the metrics you want to measure success by.
  • Recognize that there will be some experimentation and testing, and you might not get your desired outcome first time around.
  • If you are applying AI solutions into your business, the AI technology itself might not be what drives ROI. For example, if you implement an AI solution to give you better insights about your customers, the insights themselves don’t drive revenues, but the improved marketing efforts based on the insights will. 

On Wednesday morning, Wong joined a group of leaders in the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) space to discuss the future of SaaS in Southeast Asia. Wong’s co-panelists were Sharon Lee, COO of HREasily and Suwandi Soh, CEO of Mekari. Each organization provides SaaS solutions in slightly different ways, and together this group shared a comprehensive overview of what we can expect to see in terms of SaaS adoption and usage in the region. 

In terms of adoption, Lee’s observation is that SaaS adoption happens much faster in markets where the government is vocal about the advantages of SaaS and cloud-based solutions, as it gives businesses more confidence. 

From Appier’s point of view from digital marketing, Wong highlighted that a major challenge for marketers is having to do more with less. This means there is a great opportunity for adoption of technology platforms – particularly those powered by AI – because they increase the capabilities of individual marketers while also filling any talent gaps. For example, if marketers can easily use a data science platform such as AIXON, they won’t need to put together a data science team from scratch. 

Wong also shared how Appier differs its approach when selling to enterprises versus smaller organizations. Her sentiments echoed Tu’s from the day before – it starts by listening to the customer to identify what the business issue is, not trying to find a problem to fit the solution. Then, it is about identifying the right set or configuration of solutions to solve the problem. Companies at different stages of maturity, education and resources need different things, and it is critical that SaaS technology providers understand that. 

The panel closed with each expert offering advice for aspiring SaaS entrepreneurs. They all agreed on two key points: 

First, listen to your customer! It doesn’t matter how beautiful your vision of your product is to you, if your customers don’t want it or need it, it’s useless. 

Secondly, the panel speakers reminded the founders in the audience that flexibility is also critical when it comes to managing your team as it grows. Managing 100 people will look very different from managing 10. It takes courage as a founder to let things go and let other smart people take the reins. Listening to your teams and empowering them with the tools and resources they need to succeed will only benefit your product and business in the long run.

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