Digital Transformation Never Stops.
Keep Advancing or Fall Behind.

10 April 2018 | Matt Gutierrez, Senior Managing Director, Asia Pacific

What must enterprises do to ensure that they are ready for a digital economy—both in Asia Pacific and around the world? They will need to continuously push their digital transformation forward into the next phase to unlock its full potential. Here are four key priorities enterprises need to focus on to do so.

In 2017, Asia Pacific was swept up in a digital transformation wave. Approximately 57 percent of companies in the region have a formal strategy and are actively digitizing their business. This puts Asia Pacific ahead of North America and Europe.

As the region develops both economically and digitally, companies are seeking new opportunities to improve their competitiveness and market presence. For example, both the Singapore and Hong Kong governments recognize the importance of technology and innovation as reflected in their latest budgets. Singapore is rolling out initiatives to build on the digital capabilities of businesses, as well as helping some of them internationalize. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has plans to develop A.I., smart city, and financial technologies. These developments open up more horizons for smarter ways of doing business and set a precedent for enterprises to start their digital transformation journey or risk getting left behind.

In order to unlock such digital capabilities, organizations have to embark on the next phase of the digitization. According to IDC, 60 percent of Asia Pacific organizations are digitally “stuck”, and need to do more to scale their operations and innovate at a pace faster than that of a conventional enterprise. This necessarily involves building a customer-centric and empowered workforce that embraces risk taking and innovation. Of the main drivers of digital transformation, 451 Research discovered that customer experience, better risk management, and enhanced operational efficiency came in at the top three.

To get to the next level of digital transformation and competitiveness, here are the top four priorities organizations need to think about:

1.       Make customer experience the king

The customer should be placed at the heart of an organization’s digital transformation, and the enterprise must be able to offer a unified and consistent level of service quality at every point in the customer’s journey. In today’s hyper-competitive economies, it is extremely crucial for businesses to deliver their services and what the customer expects from them. 

For instance, with CenturyLink’s recent acquisition of Level 3 Communications, we had to ensure that our operations and commitment to our customers were not disrupted. It is important to empower our workforce by equipping them with the necessary tools to deliver on customer expectations and quality outcomes, and reinforcing our partnership to help them harness the full potential of their digital transformation.

2.       Maximize digital for better business

To get to the next leg of digital transformation, enterprises need to find ways to leverage digital capabilities for more competitive advantage. They must focus even more on transforming IT to drive business strategy and growth—enabling data-driven insights, capabilities like the Internet of Things (IoT), and better customer experiences. And with customers becoming more demanding, the need for digitally-powered services has risen. A study found that 40 percent of Singaporean customers cancel bank services due to poor customer experiences—mainly caused by a lack of omnichannel touchpoints.

For this, they have to build a strong hybrid IT environment that allows them to explore new services and reach new customers. Enterprises can build partnerships with strategic IT service providers with a local-to-global network footprint that allows them to innovate rapidly, boost operational efficiency and launch their business into new markets.

3.       Adapt, scale, and win

Change is the name of the game in digital disruption. As markets, business models, and customer behaviors evolve, enterprises must be able to make sense of, adapt, and take advantage of new market trends in today’s digital economy.

They must enable agility with IT and ensure that they are able to roll out services, empower new ways of working, and capture new opportunities. Enterprises can look to boosting their cloud management capabilities, allowing them to manage complex environments to drive productivity and deploy services rapidly.      

The end result is flexibility and capacity to scale in various markets and offer effective services. For instance, Mindtree, a global technological services provider, needed a refresh on its infrastructure that could balance high transaction volumes in major markets with cost-efficiency needs of developing economies. By leveraging CenturyLink’s dedicated cloud, managed hosting, and network services, it was able to double its underlying infrastructure capacity and ensure that its SaaS solution was able to support 15 countries with varying needs.

4.       Manage business, not risk

Cyber-attacks will remain a top concern throughout this year in the region. More than 6,500 security incidents were reported in Hong Kong alone in 2017. The Hong Kong Productivity Council also warns that IoT devices will be especially vulnerable, due to the popularity of mobile apps. In addition, the looming GDPR deadline will also put more compliance pressure on businesses in the region.

As advancements in technology are changing the way we work, enterprises must adopt a holistic approach towards their security strategies to defend against the growing number of potential attack vectors. For example, as the Asia Pacific workforce becomes increasingly mobile, businesses will need to be mindful of enabling a consistent application of security policies regardless of how, or where, users connect. However, staying ahead of today’s risks can be daunting as organizations need to keep their focus on growing and scaling their business while proactively strengthening their security posture.

It is important to move the needle for digital transformation in order to capture the growing opportunities in Asia Pacific. These four focus points will help to guide the next phase of digital transformation for enterprises. Organizations need to increase their efforts in delivering the best customer experience, maximize digital capabilities, build agility to scale, and adopt a comprehensive network security strategy to mitigate risks for their businesses.

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