Digital Business: Driving real impact for industries in Asia Pacific 

29 April 2019 | Matt Gutierrez, Senior Managing Director, Asia Pacific

Digital business and digital transformation have been dominating industry news never more than at present.

More enterprises and industries are embracing new technologies and using data-driven processes to adopt smarter ways of working and remain competitive by delivering outstanding customer experiences. As examples, streaming service Netflix uses big data and analytics to personalize content and provide recommendations based on a subscriber’s viewing habits; while the Port of Singapore will boost navigational safety and improve maritime and port operations through predictive technologies. 

More enterprises and industries are embracing new technologies and using data-driven processes.
 
However, technology is not only redefining how businesses engage with their customers, but also challenging the way things have always been done in established industries – from the manufacturing floor, to bank branches and even pharmaceutical labs. The digitization of industries has been earmarked as a key priority by governments in Asia towards progress; China’s formerly-named ‘Made in China 2025’ national initiative, for instance, may have run into its fair share of criticisms at a global level, but there is no denying the heavy focus the government has placed on transforming industries through technology. Similarly, the Digital India program and Singapore’s own Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan will place investment and expertise on industrial digital transformation. 

The evidence to support the ongoing moves towards digital business models is staggering; a recent study showed that Asia Pacific’s gross domestic product (GDP) can gain as much as US$292 billion if all financial services institutions (FSIs) in the region embrace digital transformation, while manufacturers have reported marked improvements to areas such as productivity, profit margins, and cost-reduction.

What is important to remember is that the digital business – be it small or medium business (SMB), enterprise, or industry – is wholly data-driven through a three-pronged approach in how they acquire, analyze, and act on data for competitive advantage. I have previously discussed in-depth on how building a digital business requires three digital pillars: Adaptive Networking, IT Agility, and Connected Security. At CenturyLink, we have built and established a long history of supporting customers through transformation and believe that in order to succeed, stronger connections with customers and improved business performance are what drives organizations further along their digital journey.

For the purpose of this discussion, I would like to focus on four industries where the digital business is driving impact and the key considerations in enabling their transformation:

Manufacturing

The fourth industrial revolution, better known by its ‘Industry 4.0’ moniker is well and truly upon us and data is the fuel that keeps the proverbial cogs of manufacturing turning. Manufacturers have become more sophisticated in their big data and analytics capabilities towards process and production improvement, while connected technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) has helped to gain greater operational efficiencies and respond faster to customer demands. 
Only 10% of global manufacturing companies are termed ‘Digital Champions’.
 

In Asia Pacific (APAC), manufacturing companies are connecting new technologies across their organizations at a rate that is way ahead of other counterparts in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and the Americas. Figures have shown that only 10% of global manufacturing companies are termed ‘Digital Champions’ and 19% of these players are across Asia. Digital Champions here can be generally defined as manufacturers that go digital in a more far-reaching manner, for example, by deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and analyzing data that creates new value-added services to customers or optimizes supply chain.

Let’s take the case of Visteon, a firm that designs and manufactures vehicle cockpit electronics. Formerly a division of the Fort Motor Company, Visteon looked to taking its autonomous business forward by creating a new IT model that allowed for flexibility and scalability as the company needs changed. With a decentralized and secure private cloud, engineering initiatives can be realized more quickly. 

Automation is essential in manufacturing to deliver cost and production efficiency while data will continue to provide critical insights in the Industry 4.0 era. When executed and managed correctly, data can be delivered across the organization towards a unified approach to serving customers and making decisions. 

Banking & Financial Services

The digital future for banks and financial services institutions (BFSIs) in APAC continues to have a strong outlook and are disrupting traditional modes of operation. Customers prefer to conduct daily banking online or via ATMs in contrast to using branch services or phone lines. Banks around the world are realizing quickly how investments in digital technologies could benefit customer acquisition and satisfaction. Singapore-based DBS has been globally recognized as an innovation leader when it comes to delivering better services through a digital business model. 
Asia Pacific’s GDP stands to gain an extra US$ 292 billion if all FSI organizations in the region embrace digital transformation.
 
Figures have shown that Asia Pacific’s GDP stands to gain an extra US$ 292 billion if all FSI organizations in the region embrace digital transformation. BFSIs are now starting to discover the benefits of hybrid cloud by transforming their legacy systems; allowing them to expand their reach and offer reliable services to customers around the clock through a purpose-built cloud network. 
However, throughout progressive changes in the banking and finance sector, cybersecurity and governance risks continue to be fundamental concerns. The industry is dogged with concerns from regulators and consumers about malware, botnets, phishing, and ransomware among other dynamic threats from taking transactions online or to the cloud. While mobile banking services are welcomed by consumers, the onus definitely lies with financial services organizations in working with a trusted IT partner to deliver a connected security strategy for risk management. This would encompass, but not be limited to a highly controllable, intelligent, and secured network that seamlessly supports an agile IT infrastructure that can spin up applications in the right cloud at the right time and place, while leveraging insights backed by real-time threat intelligence to keep digital businesses secured. 

Pharmaceuticals 

Evidence tells us that of all industries, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare have been slower to adapt to digital ways of working, with regulatory restrictions in most countries being the greatest barrier. We are now seeing gradual progress in Asia; three pharmaceutical firms – GlaxoSmithKline, MSD International, and Pfizer Asia – are focusing on ways to use new technologies to make drug manufacturing processes more efficient and ultimately drive down costs for patients. 

While this move is most encouraging, there remains huge opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to leverage insights from their data into their offerings towards a more patient-centric and value-based approach. According to Frost & Sullivan, digital enablers such as AI, big data, IoT, and blockchain will drive evolution across the pharmaceuticals value chain, to include smart R&D, flexible manufacturing, connected patients, and digital pharmacy. By applying information from remote health monitoring devices, understanding purchasing behavior or prescription requirements through AI algorithms, or making data and services mobile, pharmaceutical companies are getting closer to consumer needs – to better understand medical conditions, expedite clinical trials, and shape the regulatory process among many other benefits.  

In such an information-intensive environment and expansion of interconnected devices and platforms, the management and protection of data becomes vital. As the industry embarks or progresses on their digital transformation journey, pharmaceutical organizations will need to consider a proactive security approach to detect and deflect risks and new vulnerabilities driven by sophisticated cyber threats and rely on trusted IT partners to improve agility and build competitive advantage. 

Gaming & Content

The demand for reliable network performance and content delivery services will be top of mind for industry decision-makers.
 

It is not a surprise that streaming video is the top application on the Internet. Almost 58% of downstream traffic on the Internet is video. While Netflix is making inroads into APAC, there is a rise of streaming providers in the region. Asia Pacific OTT revenue from TV episode and movie will reach $24.4 billion in 2022, with China and Japan accounting for 75% of the region’s revenue. With the rollout of Apple’s new subscription streaming service, consumer expectations of content on-demand – be it download speed and quality or viewing choices – are only set to rise further 

The gaming industry is also thriving in Asia with large homegrown publishers and developers such as Tencent in China, Streamline Studios in Malaysia, Megaxus in Indonesia and Razer in Singapore. In 2018, the global games market value rose to nearly US$135 billion representing a revenue growth by over 10% and mobile games accounts for almost half of it.  Video game business models are changing rapidly from physical media to digital game downloads

With the gaming and video streaming markets in Asia set to continue their robust growth, the demand for reliable network performance and content delivery services will be top of mind for industry decision-makers to plan for increased traffic. Brands will therefore need to choose IT solutions such as cloud services, managed hosting, data storage and back up, and adaptive networks to enable swift engagement by consumers and remain competitive.

Right foundations to drive your iterative Digital Business

Across all industries, perhaps the strongest tie that binds a digital business is to deliver a consistent and differentiated customer experience. Leveraging big data and analytics is the backbone of any digital business, supported by an adaptive network to better engage with customers, agile IT systems to respond to opportunities quicker and deliver applications faster, and connected security to protect valuable data and applications. 

Transform your organization into a digital business today to meet the demands of the digital future. Find out more: 

Improved business systems and network reliability are major contributory factors to an organization’s success and bottom line. For the four industries highlighted above and for many more, a global technology company like CenturyLink enables their pathway to becoming a successful digital business.    

In my next blog, I will be discussing more on adaptive networking, one of the three key digital pillars of a successful digital business.

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