Innovation on-demand: How Microsoft shop Avanade is shaking up ASEAN

Innovation on-demand: How Microsoft shop Avanade is shaking up ASEAN

Digital Innovation Studio in Singapore crucial in changing customer mindsets

Omer Ali Khan (Avanade)

Omer Ali Khan (Avanade)

Credit: Avanade

Avanade has unveiled plans to transform how customers build out technology strategies in ASEAN through an on-demand approach to innovation.

Leveraging the recently launched Digital Innovation Studio in Singapore, the technology specialist is taking a different route to market through a “design-thinking” philosophy leveraging Microsoft technologies.

“This is innovation-as-a-service,” said Omer Ali Khan, general manager of ASEAN, Avanade. “Our aim is to develop a co-creation model with our customers because how we previously engaged wasn’t always conducive to open-thinking.

“We were coming together in offices and meeting rooms which are not the best for open dialogue around the art of the possible and assessing the business problem that we are trying to solve. We wanted to apply different techniques to problem solving and approach this from a design-thinking perspective and use that to empathise with our clients and create possible solutions.”

To achieve this, the specialist Microsoft partner created a space in Singapore to build out strategies in relation to the execution and implementation of emerging technologies.

The facility allows customers to “co-create and test” the latest technologies in different phases, ranging from proof-of-concept, prototype to market launch and scale.

“This investment was crucial for our business in ASEAN because we wanted to create a continuum for our clients,” added Khan, speaking to Channel Asia in Singapore. “We have one existing client that is an insurance company which currently has a team hired from Avanade working on their side around the building of applications.

“We met with the chief digital officer and he had a backlog of more than 60 ideas to work through as the business wasn’t sure which ones to fund or invest in. We invited them to our studio and spent time exploring the ideas and helping figure out which ones could move to the next level from an investment standpoint.”

In addition to an Avanade team working at a day-to-day level, Khan said the customer is also leveraging the studio in a “flexible” capacity, allowing innovation to spike when appropriate for the business.

“They don’t need to hire a dedicated team, instead they can come into the studios and explore the areas they want to explore,” Khan explained. “It’s a mixture of a design agency model, combined with consulting.”

Digital Innovation Studio in SingaporeCredit: Avanade
Digital Innovation Studio in Singapore

Maximising Microsoft

Majority owned by Accenture, Avanade was founded in 2000 by Accenture and Microsoft and houses 36,000 employees - backed by 26,000 Microsoft certifications and 18 Microsoft Gold competencies - across 24 countries.

The professional services giant specialises in the delivery of digital and cloud services, leveraging core Microsoft technologies such as Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics 365, in addition to Adobe and Sitecore capabilities. Key local customers include Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, Edenred and JTC among others.

“Microsoft’s ecosystem is expanding and opening up, which is evident through increased open source work and new partnerships with Adobe as an example,” Khan said. “Azure represents a large part of our business, while Dynamics is one of the fastest areas of growth from a services standpoint.

“We’re seeing lots of applications becoming very relevant through Dynamics on the call centre and enterprise resource planning [ERP] side of the market. Leveraging the power of cloud, we’re seeing increased customer development which is allowing us to create use cases that previously were much more difficult to achieve.

“While we don’t lead with a technology discussion, we’re seeing the full Microsoft stack of solutions resonate across the board in the local market.”

Specific to ASEAN, Avanade currently operates in Singapore and Malaysia, in addition to supporting Microsoft through Accenture in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

The Singapore Digital Innovation Studio joins a growing network of 15 studios located in Melbourne, Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, Raleigh, London, Krakow, Paris and Milan.

“This is not a new concept for Avanade,” Khan added. “Our intention is to connect all our learnings and ideas in each studio around the world.”

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