A recipe for economic recovery and resilience in organizations is a culture of innovation.

| Microsoft Stories Asia

ahmed mazhari By Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia.

Exploring New Foods During COVID-19 Lockdowns

One of my favorite activities is cooking, but I never seemed to have enough time to do it. That changed when COVID-19 compelled everyone to stay at home and shutter eateries. That was the ideal chance to check out some new foods and flavors. Apart from a few unpleasant blunders, adopting something new has also helped me to relax, be more creative, and maintain my health.

COVID-19 Spurs Digital Transformation in Businesses

In the same vein, the epidemic has compelled several firms to reinvent themselves and test out novel approaches to problem-solving. For instance, businesses all around the world have adopted digital technologies to enable their staff to keep collaborating and engaging. As Chief Executive officer at Microsoft Satya Nadella noted in April, we saw two years of digital transformation compressed into just two months.

Creating a Culture of Innovation for Business Resilience in Asia Pacific

Business decision-makers and employees in the area were polled for a new report titled “Culture of Innovation: Basis for Business Resilience and Economic Recovery in Asia Pacific,” which was commissioned by IDC Asia Pacific. It was discovered that the secret to long-term success and resilience is creating an atmosphere where continual innovation may flourish.


Innovation is seen as crucial or significant to the performance and resilience of 74% of all firms. The same opinion is held by 98% of other leading firms with a developed culture of innovation.

However, the epidemic has sped up this transition towards innovation, with businesses maturing 11% in the previous six months.

Yet, why is innovation important? In a crisis, shouldn’t we reduce the danger and take precautions? Doesn’t it make more sense to save resources and burrow down as firms continue to focus on their top goals for business continuity? It turns out that forward-thinking businesses anticipate a quicker recovery from the epidemic.


One-third of Culture of Innovation leaders expect to increase market share despite the pandemic, while 45% said they expect their business to fully recover in less than six months.

What is the key to creative firms’ success?

People, data, procedures, and technology are the four components of a culture of innovation that I previously discussed. Let’s take a deeper look at technology and people, which were the two areas identified as being the weakest and hence needed to be prioritized to ensure company resilience and performance in the future, even if all are essential to the formula. While businesses see digital transformation as crucial to business recovery, the majority of them place more of an emphasis on implementing new technology than on developing the proper personnel and culture, which is also a top priority.

When work, school, healthcare, and even social activities transitioned to a remote model, corporations rushed to keep people together despite lockdowns by embracing digital technologies such as cloud services, mobile technology, and video-conferencing applications. To respond to the crisis, those who had the technology in place and the capacity to use it had an edge.

Consider Zuellig Pharma, the biggest provider of healthcare services in Asia. As the pandemic spread, Zuellig, which had already started using Microsoft Azure cloud solutions, quickly streamlined its daily operations and launched cutting-edge ordering and payment platforms months in advance of schedule. This allowed customers in the area to maintain essential stocks throughout the outbreak. Workers were also able to react by offering clients and communities brand-new, cutting-edge services. It is an obvious illustration of how businesses may reinvent themselves for the future by empowering employees to accept change and fusing the physical and digital worlds to advance corporate objectives.


Similar to the Philippines, Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) properly recognized the need to convert its personnel when it started its digital transformation journey a few years ago. The 117-year-old business deliberately created a more open atmosphere and encouraged staff to restructure for the digital era.

In response to COVID-19, Meralco quickly launched a communication app and a rapid-testing tool to enable staff to monitor and report on their daily health status. This ensured that they could essentially keep the city’s lights on. That’s a terrific illustration of how company leaders may seize this chance to promote a growth mentality that, when used in conjunction with the appropriate digital tools, can generate novel concepts and even brand-new business models in the face of enormous obstacles.


After COVID, 43% more businesses have realized how crucial it is to train employees to embrace technology for successful innovation. The pandemic’s acceleration of digitization, however, has merely increased the skills gap as more people lose their jobs as a result of the economic crisis. It is urgently important to train and upskill the workforce in digital, creative, and collaborative abilities. Innovation leaders are aware of this. They rank the top three strategies for company resilience as upskilling and reskilling.

Additional actions that leaders might take include rewarding staff for creative and long-term contributions rather than concentrating just on immediate duties and output. A business value that permeates all areas and levels must be innovation. There is no better moment than now to recruit and keep the appropriate people from a variety of backgrounds. It takes time to get there. It’s not like a new technology that can be immediately implemented and activated by flipping a switch. To guarantee that everyone feels included in the trip and has something to offer, consideration and empathy are necessary.

The requirement for ongoing improvement and expansion

Several businesses have put in a lot of time and effort to develop a mature Culture of Innovation, which is an ongoing process of exponential development. Others are moving along nicely. It is a continuous process. Also crucial is a continuous feedback loop where the organization hears from its members and fosters the growth of grassroots ideas.

All excellent chefs are aware that the finest meals are developed over many years via trial, creativity, and customer-centricity. In the same manner, we must always strive to enhance the four areas of people, data, processes, and technology rather than becoming complacent.

That 45% of innovation leaders believe their present business models will become uncompetitive within five years is revealing. This explains their unwavering commitment to innovation and their acceptance of new working methods. Building a Culture of Creativity takes work, but it may pay off in the long run, much like picking up a new passion like cooking.

All great chefs know that the best dishes come about through generations of experimentation, innovation, and improving from feedback with customer-centricity in mind. In the same way, we must not be complacent but seek constant improvement in these four areas – people, data, processes, and technology – to serve the people we are impacting better.

— Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia 

The resilience of businesses and economic recovery is fueled by an innovation culture

According to a recent Microsoft-IDC poll, 74% of all company decision-makers in the Asia Pacific region believe that innovation is now a “must,” not simply a “nice to have.” They also believe that innovation is essential to performance and resilience.

Nearly all (98%) top companies with the most developed innovation cultures concur that innovation is essential for promptly reacting to market problems and opportunities; they are more robust to crises like the current epidemic and anticipate recovering more quickly.

Compared to comparable firms, 50% more executives anticipate increasing their income in 2020.
Despite the epidemic, one in three business owners anticipates growing their market share.
45% of business executives think it will take their companies six months or less to recover from the COVID-19 disaster.

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