Efforts are underway to meet the demands of a digital economy along the Belt and Road.


Ivan Teh

Ivan Teh is the CEO and Managing Director of Fusionex, an award-winning data technology company specialising in big data analytics, artificial intelligence, deep learning and the Internet of Things (IoT). The Malaysian firm is among the fastest-growing technology companies in its space and one of the largest tech companies in the region.

With more than 17 years’ experience in the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, managing teams at HP, Intel and Accenture, Mr Teh went on to set up Fusionex to create global software and solutions. Mr Teh was among the featured speakers at the Belt and Road Summit, held 11 September, in Hong Kong, where he shared his vision on how technology can help businesses along the Belt and Road.

Tell us about your company.
Fusionex started with humble beginnings. What we saw as a problem statement in the market was, companies trying to use technology to solve their data problems. We had a mission to use software to humanise technology to help them overcome their problems and that’s what we set out to do.


In terms of countries along the Belt and Road, what services can companies such as yours offer?
Where we see big data analytics, IoT, AI on the Belt and Road Initiative is this: data will grow at 650 per cent in the next couple of years, with the amount of data doubling every two years. How do we make sense of that data, how do we understand demand, how do we understand supply? That’s where we think technology as a platform can help players, whether it’s governments, private sector or the public sector, to understand what’s happening, so they can make well-informed decisions.

Where are your Belt and Road clients based?
Fusionex operates in three main regions, namely Europe, the United States and Asia-Pacific, which is by far our fastest-growing region. We operate across 15 countries, to date, and we think Belt and Road countries will see tremendous growth in the next couple of years. We see cooperation across this region doubling and growing at a very fast pace. And this is an area where we’d like to enhance with the right technology, the infrastructure, the facilities, the right resources, and we think we’re in a very exciting space to be able to facilitate.

I think Hong Kong is very well-positioned to be able to play a very important role in the Belt and Road Initiative. We have a presence in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, and we’re growing very quickly in China. So I do think that the rest of Asia-Pacific, ASEAN where we’re very strong in as well, would have very good synergy in terms of how we work together. We’re very excited to be in this space and in this part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

As new trade agreements, such as the recently concluded ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement, are reached, what is the role of technology to help realise these deals?
You will see a gradual shift in in terms of moving away from some of the bureaucracies that hinder a lot of the processes in trade, financing, loan and trade facilitation. There will be a lot of work put in place from government- to-government, government-to-business, and from businesses that are driving these platforms with SMEs. A lot of the permits, trade facilitation and trade agreements will gradually move towards digitisation. What that means is that when we want to apply for something, some of the governments are already making it digital. Some of them are already putting in their SLEs (service level expectations) to say that you need to be able to process these kinds of applications within a certain period of time. And I’m not talking about the US and UK, but emerging economies, developing countries that are in talks to say, how do I make things faster.

This digital platform will incorporate feedback from entrepreneurs and government, [to improve the system]. While it sounds like the distant future, it’s already happening. There are Belt and Road, developing countries that are already trying to put them in place. There are platforms that will be put in place to ease the transactions and to make things more efficient and that’s really exciting.

Gone are the days when people say “I don’t know what I don’t know.” I think in terms of data exchange, in terms of how we’re doing things in the digital world, people will want to see things more efficient, faster, better. So Hong Kong is in the right position to facilitate this growth and we’re going to see exciting times ahead.

What are your impressions of the Belt and Road Summit?
I’ve been impressed in terms of the turnout, the level of interaction. I do think that there will be lot more engagement, more awareness created through forums such as this. The blueprint, the vision is fantastic, but obviously it all boils down to execution so that everyone can be part of this inclusive approach.