July 27, 2021

2 keys to Singapore’s economic recovery: New virtual frontiers and growth opportunities in sustainability

Edward Senju, Regional CEO at Sansan shares why Singapore must create new frontiers in the digital realm and seize opportunities in a growing green economy to chart a path in the post-pandemic world.

Qinthara Fasya | 14 June 2021

Photo provided by Sansan

As Singapore enters Phase 3 of the Heightened Alert, the main issue on everyone’s mind is economic recovery. DigitalCFO spoke with Edward Senju, Regional CEO of Sansan, to learn how Singapore can push the boundaries of digital innovation and exploit possibilities in a growing green economy to design a post-pandemic course.

With the ongoing worldwide pandemic causing financial hardship for many businesses, Edward Senju emphasizes that businesses should adapt to the current rather than planning for the uncertain future. Edward addresses how we can leverage on digitisation in the current situation for the better good, taking little steps today to make a better tomorrow. Sansan presents a solution that allows organizations to enjoy the best of both worlds, noting that online meetings and conferences are the new standard for many and may be perceived as a hindrance to new connections.


What do you believe are the everyday business operations that have been directly influenced by the pandemic since the beginning of 2020 till now?

For starters, sales and partnerships have had an impact on business operations since we would need to physically meet individuals to be efficient. Because we have to hold all of these meetings online, it’s tough to make new relationships or comprehend the counterpart we’re speaking with. When our meeting guests don’t switch on their cameras, we just see their initials, which makes it feel like we’re talking to a ghost.

Second, many Japanese businesses, including ours, are continuously looking for new opportunities to invest in start-ups and new alliances. However, it is really difficult to delve deeply into it during this time. Many organizations are finding it more difficult to close new deals this year than they did last year.


Do you think it is vital for companies to use these uncertain times to re-think their business operations and create new virtual frontiers now?

Instead of preparing for when enterprises and companies may resume normal operations, everything should be done right now. This is because, even if businesses are permitted to function normally, restrictions will be imposed in order to preserve the low number of Covid-19 cases across the world. Companies should concentrate on making small, gradual changes to adapt to the situation right now.

Data is the key for companies right now. Many people would argue that the key is ‘digital,’ but that is a rather broad term. Companies must consider the data they already have and how they may use it to propel their organization forward. The kind of connections or relationships they have as a firm might be one form of data.

Precious data is mostly stuck on paper, and that is what businesses should focus on digitizing. Persons who have previously worked for a firm or who have recently joined the firm, for example, have certain ties with other firms or people. Even inside a firm, various departments have various connections. The essential thing that organizations should do moving ahead is combine these connections in a single database and share it inside the firm. When workers work remotely or are unable to establish fresh contacts or leads during this time, this information will be useful.


How will capturing sustainable development possibilities help businesses in the long run?

We build data from business cards that firms get, using Sansan as an example. If the client decides to use Sansan, we will scan the paper business cards and use human transcription and AI Machine Learning to produce data for the client’s database. Following the creation of a digital business card for a client, they may share it through QR code and even keep other people’s business cards on their phones. This is how we can alter the way we connect with one other.

We are able to preserve scarce resources by fully eliminating traditional paper business cards through this approach, despite the fact that these cards do not contribute to a large amount of our environment. Every step counts, and taking this step will make it easier for businesses to advocate for further digital initiatives. For the company, lowering the cost of paper would also lower the cost of human operations.


What are Sansan’s USPs that may convince CFOs to justify investing money on contact management, which has typically been handled by a cost-center (marketing department)?

One of our unique selling points is our ability to correctly digitize traditional data for our clients. We seek to transform the way people meet by incorporating digital technology. One stage was scanning the digital business cards, but we also wanted to let our clients know that their scan made a difference. Sansan plants a tree for every card scanned, and we’ve already planted 8,874 trees (and counting) thus far. This supports the notion that moving to digital is better for the environment.

Scanning digital business cards does not, in and of itself, imply that we are saving trees. It’s one of the things Sansan came up with to bridge the divide. Right now, we can truly argue that if people start using these virtual cards, they are helping the environment since it takes impact immediately. Sansan’s Scan for Trees initiative aims to persuade other businesses to take a first step toward environmental sustainability.

It’s self-evident that when corporations want to obtain new leads or connections, they must pay a baseline fee of $100 to $200 each lead. You’ll never get the benefit of having all of your leads in one place and understanding the connections you make since the data is on paper or fragmented. In some ways, it would be a waste of money because the majority of these leads would not develop into agreements at that time. This digital link, on the other hand, may be used over and over again by reusing existing connections. With the continuing pandemic, this could be the greatest option for getting connections. 

This service is still available to people who like to share business cards in a physical format. When they meet face to face, they can scan the card with their phones and get the job done, if not better.


As we go toward the post-Covid era, businesses must not only adjust to the new normal but also embrace digitisation in their everyday operations. Companies may now smoothly transition from conventional ways to distribute business cards digitally with the touch of a finger thanks to Sansan’s ability to digitize conventional data.

About Sansan

Since its founding in 2007, Sansan has focused on delivering its cloud based contact management service to customers in Japan and beyond. Sansan is setting the standard in Japan for cloud-based contact management, with annually doubling numbers of users from over 7,000 premium corporate users including the Japanese Government (METI). Sansan Inc. is based in Tokyo, Japan and has its subsidiary Sansan global Pte. Ltd. in Singapore since October 2015. The company began offering its business card app Eight in 2012. It has over 1.5 million registered users as a new business network that incorporates a social media framework to transform business cards into business connections.