By Jerry Tso, Head of Singapore Development Centre, PayPal
As the world continues to transform in the face of COVID-19, innovation will be front and center for many organizations seeking to thrive in the new normal. With 60% of the world’s population residing in Asia, we sit at the heart of the world’s next innovation frontier, a region where possibilities and potential should be embraced.
At PayPal, we believe collaboration anchors innovation. It is the cross-pollination of knowledge, ideas, and solutions that helps broaden horizons, which in turn builds confidence within organizations to innovate.
Across the globe, we have six PayPal Innovation Labs, and our facility in Singapore marks a first-of-its-kind collaboration between PayPal, government agencies, industry groups, SMEs, and higher learning institutions. Together, we aim to develop capabilities in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Blockchain, among other things.
Innovation and collaboration: past and present
Today, Grab, Airbnb, and Netflix are recognized for being industry disruptors, but they haven’t always existed as household names. Yet these brands are prime examples of innovators that have successfully leveraged technology to address everyday needs.
In the past, big corporations looking to incorporate innovation shied away from working with start-ups that were on the verge of “breaking boundaries” for fear of the unknown risks. This is a stark contrast to the innovation ecosystem of today, where collaboration is the name of the game.
For example, within the digital payments space, governments, start-ups, and corporations across Southeast Asia work together to build a stronger infostructure to enable the faster adoption of fintech services. This is all but necessary nowadays, with over 5 million e-commerce orders coming in daily across the region.
This reflects how collaboration for innovation has evolved within the industry in the last decades, and how these partnerships are emerging as transformative forces for global business and technology.
Sparking innovation within organizations
Often, fear of failure holds innovation back. Therefore, it is critical to empower ideators within an organization to reconfigure their philosophies towards innovation.
It all boils down to how encouraged, empowered, and confident one feels. Here at PayPal, we help employees overcome the fear of failure through collaboration. Whether it is for product development, CSR initiatives, or team-building activities, the principle idea is to bring people together. Exposure to a new perspective helps people think creatively when tackling challenges.
At the end of the day, it is only through an enriching employee experience that we can provide an enriching customer experience. If employees are driven and passionate, they will help us deliver value for our customers.
Similarly, the decision to innovate also needs to be purpose-driven. Contrary to what many believe, it is not rocket science and does not always have to translate to new product development. It can simply be fixing small links across processes to enhance fluidity and efficiency.
That is further explored in PayPal’s Innotopia Podcast Series, a discussion on all things innovation, as well as the transformation of the global business and technology landscape. It is a reflection of the collaboration that exists within the industry, with the PayPal Innovation Lab sitting down with leading Asia-based innovators—from serial entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley to corporate executives in APAC—to reveal their stories, and highlight the unique challenges and opportunities they’ve discovered in the Asia market.
Innovation is about embracing possibilities. Especially in unprecedented times, there is a need to take a step back and rethink the process and possibilities. Ideas are always there, and whilst some are new, some might be old. But it is only through collaboration where we create the ideal opportunity to ignite the spark of innovation.
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