Reimagining the future of work in South-East Asia

A step ahead: Dale, who is the managing director of South-East Asia at Adobe, believes that digital transformation has changed how people work.

THE acceleration of digital adoption has massively changed the nature of work.

This, in turn, has changed the way employees are expected to work today and post-pandemic.

As more employees bring the office into their living rooms, these seismic shifts are helping some companies flourish, while challenging those that are slow to respond.

Last year, when it became clear that work was never going back to the way things were, we saw an opportunity and the need to reimagine the employee experience that leverages the best of in-person and virtual interactions to foster creativity, innovation, and culture.

Where we landed is this: The future of work is hybrid.

While we believe that the hybrid future of work is here to stay, we know that one size doesn’t fit all. Let’s break that down further:

> Being digital-first will be critical

Digital transformation has fundamentally changed how people work. As the digital experiences company, we doubled down on digital tools and workflows across the employee experience to enable our people to be productive working wherever they are.

Organisations, large and small, will need to determine how that “hybrid” will look like for them, then start cultivating a digital-first mindset across the entire company, and put in place the digital solutions needed to build the future of work.

> Digital literacy is key

Even before the pandemic, South-East Asia (SEA) businesses were concerned about the digital skills gap.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the increased pace of change, the explosion of digital channels and technologies, and rising customer expectations.

When Econsultancy and Adobe surveyed marketing and technology leaders for our 2021 Digital Trends Report, both mainstream companies and customer experience (CX) leaders ranked “lack of digital skills” as the third-highest issue holding back their marketing or CX organisations.

Evidently, upskilling SEA workers is key to establishing a successful digital future for the fast-growing region.

However, digital upskilling isn’t just about training a new generation of workers. It’s about taking the workforce you already have, keeping them relevant, and bringing them along with you.

One example of this is the Adobe Programmatic League that we run in SEA.

We introduce existing members of the workforce to data and analytics to get them interested in learning those skills and begin applying them to their functions.

Similarly, digital literacy in the boardroom is also no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a key competitive differentiator in today’s corporate landscape.

A digitally savvy board can help foster a data-driven culture that ensures employees are equipped with the tools and skills to continually enhance the digital experience.

> Digitising workflows

Legacy workflows is another challenge that many organisations face when transforming for the future of work.

According to Adobe’s Future of Time report, enterprise workers and small-to-medium business (SMB) owners now have higher expectations for technology to help them work faster and more efficiently, especially for low-effort tasks such as managing files, contracts, and invoices.

In reality, however, only 12% of Asia-Pacific organisations have transitioned to fully digitised document workflows.

Those that still rely on paper-based processes will continue to be burdened by inefficiencies. Digitising workflows is also especially important to help employers retain and attract talent, with 50% of enterprise workers reporting that they would switch jobs if it gave them access to tools that enable them to be more productive at work.

To thrive in the digital economy, employers must embrace flexible technologies that digitise more, or all, workflow steps, and use cloud-based services to deliver this efficiently.

To help with that, Adobe has recently announced the availability of Adobe Sign and Adobe Experience Manager as a Cloud Service hosted locally in the Microsoft Azure SEA region data centre located in Singapore.

This move will bring expanded digital experience management and e-signing capabilities to support organisations across the region in their future of work vision.

Adobe also rolled out new product offerings, integrated seamlessly with Microsoft infrastructure, that are designed to help local government and commercial organisations deliver enhanced customer and citizen experiences.

This is just the beginning.

We recognise that we, and organisations across SEA, have a lot to learn, and that evolving how we work will be a long-term transformation. However, we are energised by the fact that we’ll soon be able to come together again – be it in-person or digital.

For more information, visit

Adobe was a Terabyte Partner of the recent Smart Gov & Public Services Live Virtual Conference on Sept 7 and Sept 8, held in commemoration of Star Media Group’s 50th anniversary.

Rajesh Patil, head of territory and channel sales, spoke at day two of the conference. To rewatch his session, visit

Simon Dale is the managing director of South-East Asia at Adobe with over three decades of professional experience in the technology sector, including 20 years in Asia-Pacific. His career has spanned development, sales management, and executive leadership at both start-ups and large corporations. Simon currently sits on the advisory board of Singapore’s Nanyang Polytechnic School of IT, and is an active mentor and angel investor in multiple start-ups. He is also a mentor and coach to early talent through Mentorshub. Full bio:

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