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Q&A with Paul Abfalter: Building Asia’s digital network

Highlights
  • South-East Asian markets are at the beginning of their digitalisation journey.
  • A number of Asian markets have restrictive market and infrastructure access.
  • Building relationships is key to expanding into the markets of the Asia Pacific region.

We sat down with Paul Abfalter, Business Development Strategist and Regional Director for Telstra, to discuss the factors affecting digitalisation in the Asia Pacific region.

IN:SIGHT™: What are the major trends in internet infrastructure throughout the Asia-Pacific region?

Paul Abfalter: There’s a lot of investment going on in undersea cable, which tends to happen every five or 10 years. In terms of technology trends, Asia’s probably a little bit behind Australia, particularly in cloud, professional services and managed services and security, for the most part. Australia’s really one of the most advanced markets.

crossroads in a city with pedestrians

IN:SIGHT™: Asia is one of the most diverse regions in the world, particularly in terms of digital infrastructure. What differences do businesses need to be aware of within the region? 

Paul Abfalter: Some of the region’s biggest differences lie in digitalisation – you’ve got some very developed economies, such as Japan, that are well advanced in terms of their digitalisation journey. However, some South-East Asian markets are really just getting going on that journey. 

IN:SIGHT™: What do ICT/IT organisations and digitalised organisations need to understand about expanding into markets with less sophisticated digital infrastructure or less reliable digital networks?  

Paul Abfalter: So Asia’s obviously a massive market, and the major [countries] have got several markets within them. In places such as India and Indonesia, there are all sorts of infrastructure challenges. In Korea we’ve joined up our three cable systems there with a really unique in-country network, and we’ve got further work coming in India to solve some of those back-haul challenges that a lot of companies are facing.

“Finding good dancing partners is really important in Asia. Even where you’re not forced to do that because of regulations, sometimes it’s just a very good idea in terms of being able to exert influence, and achieving what you need to with your in-country stakeholders.” 

Paul Abfalter, Telstra Business Development Strategist and Regional Director

IN:SIGHT™: What are some of the major legislative differences that change the way Australian businesses operate throughout Asia?

Paul Abfalter: One thing about Asia is, there are a number of markets that are really restrictive in terms of your ability to get market access and your ability to access infrastructure. 

 IN:SIGHT™: What are some of your key takeaways from moving into these tough markets and dealing with local challenges? 

Paul Abfalter: Finding good dancing partners is really important in Asia. Even where you’re not forced to do that because of regulations, sometimes it’s just a very good idea in terms of being able to exert influence, and achieving what you need to with your in-country stakeholders. We’ve had a lot of success in terms of picking our partners, and we’ve had a few big ones that we’ve learned from as well. 

IN:SIGHT™: How do you know when you’ve found the right partner?  

Paul Abfalter: Take time and be very patient with how you’re building up relationships in the region. You want to look at lots of different options. You don’t want to just hook onto one. You need your own in-country
local expertise as well; you need to spend a lot of time with local representatives who know the market well and know the history behind all these partners before you pick the right one.  

Telstra’s low-latency networks are used by a wide range of organisations to send and receive orders, trades and market data across the globe. Find out why Gartner rated Telstra number one in Asia/Pacific for 2017.

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