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29 January 2019 | Matt Gutierrez, Senior Managing Director, Asia Pacific
2019 will be the year for Digital Businesses. As the region’s economy evolves and digital transformation continues to gain momentum, there will be more opportunities for enterprises that know how to leverage the power of their data to focus on their solutions, services and improve the customer experience.
To start 2019 on the right foot, it’s time to identify some key business and technological trends that will shape the digital future.
Furthermore, the internet economy in the region is also expanding fast, creating a more vibrant playing environment for Digital Businesses. In 2018, the region’s internet economy was projected to have hit S$72 billion, doubling since 2015. In Southeast Asia alone, the internet has generated a value surpassing the gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 100 countries in the world in just three years. In the same period, over 3 million Southeast Asians have gone online for the first time every month – a size bigger than Chicago’s or Madrid’s population. This growth will continue well into 2025, with the e-commerce market value reaching S$102 billion.
For Digital Businesses dealing in e-commerce, prospects in Southeast Asia look bright. In 2018, the e-commerce market value doubled from the previous year – with the top three e-commerce businesses being Lazada, Shopee, and Tokopedia.
This continuously growing market gives enterprises more reasons to move to Asia Pacific and motivation to accelerate their digital transformation journey. This also means that IT agility will be critical to help enterprises meet diverse customer needs rapidly.
Data and IoT capabilities will require the power of a network foundation that is robust and flexible. Network demands will only become heavier as enterprises grow their customer bases, power their digitization initiatives, and expansion to other countries. Furthermore, the region is also becoming a fast-growing hotspot for “data capitals”. According to a report, Asia Pacific will be home to 40 percent of the world’s data centers.
This shift is driven by surge in data generated from various digital products and businesses migrating their data storage to cloud services such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Alibaba. With more data storage and transfers being performed by enterprises and other organizations in the region, building reliable, secure connectivity will be more challenging. Meanwhile, the introduction of edge computing will also drive demand for the next-generation network. This distributed, open IT architecture features decentralized processing power, crunching data on the local machine instead of a data center and enabling the next level of mobile computing and IoT capabilities.
To transform, enterprises need to look at building cloud-like flexibility, automation, and flexible management into their networks.
IoT attacks will remain one of the more prominent types of attacks to look out for. CenturyLink Threat Labs saw high bot traffic in hotspots like China, South Korea, and Taiwan. Therefore, botnets that target IoT devices, which are becoming popular, will be one of the top cyber threats businesses to look out for.
However, we are also seeing two new types of attacks becoming more popular. They are crypto jacking and insider threats. Crypto jacking is now more prevalent than ransomware, which was 2017’s most popular cyberattack method. Hackers install cryptocurrency mining software on a target system. The software consumes processor cycles and their requisite electricity to process cryptocurrency transactions, helping attackers earn their commissions.
Insider threats are another risk to remain vigilant against. Sources of internal threats include cybercriminals working from within companies, third-party contractors and negligent employees. In Asia Pacific, insider-related incidents caused enterprises to lose approximately US$5.88 million in a space of 12 months.
To deal with these threats, enterprises need a proactive cybersecurity approach. A Connected Security framework that uses the network as a threat sensor will allow enterprises to anticipate and deal with attacks. The support of a global intelligence network will enable enterprises to have complete visibility of threats within and without to better protect against them.
As networks expand and workloads become more complex, managing them can become too overwhelming for security and network operations teams. The advent of adaptive networks amid evolving threats will drive enterprises to rely on AI for operations.
AI can be used to analyze data traffic and security data, identifying trends and behaviors for a more predictive approach to management and security. For instance, AI can help e-commerce retailers identify peak seasons and geographies in network traffic during events like Singles Day or festive periods. They can provision network bandwidth to ensure the right markets have it to prevent downtime. AI can also automate basic processes like security log monitoring and identify threat trends from data fed in from a massive intelligence network. Consequently, security teams will then be able to perform more value-added tasks such as devising security strategies and consulting with customers.
In 2019, the global compliance landscape will also become more complex. The GDPR made headlines in 2018 but another upcoming EU privacy law might change the way enterprises operate and innovate.
This new policy is called the ePrivacy Regulation and it addresses essential issues of data privacy as well as introduces important shifts in regulatory compliance. The new law will apply to companies outside of Europe, including heavy fines for infringers.
It is slated to replace an old directive that will control the treatment of traffic and location data by telecommunications companies and internet service providers. In addition, it might restrict direct marketing by email and other channels, and limits the use of online tracking devices, such as cookies.
The year 2019 will be the year for Digital Business. To flourish, enterprises must accelerate their digital business journey with a trusted IT partner that has capabilities across the Adaptive Network, IT Agility, and Connected Security. But technology is only half the story. Enterprises should also seek to work with companies that have a focus on customer experience, those that display a deep understanding of their needs and the ability to chart out a digital business roadmap that is right for them.
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