Going digital takes a bit of work. Source: Shutterstock

Leveraging digital in Asia: Exclusive tips from an industry insider

GOING digital is a priority for most companies in the world, especially in the APAC region. It’s something that’s top on their agenda – but they still struggle with it.

In an exclusive interview with Tech Wire Asia, Praveen Kumar, General Manager, Asia Pacific, ASG Technologies discusses why companies are focusing on digital and how they can make their journey to digital smoother.

What particular opportunities or challenges do we encounter in the business, and how can that be addressed with technology? 

According to a study by Microsoft, business leaders in the Asia Pacific are showing an urgency in embracing cutting-edge technologies, with 80 percent of them believing that they need to transform into a digital business to enable future growth. Despite this, only 29 percent said that they have a comprehensive digital strategy in place.

The word “digital” has permeated all aspects of business, placing significant pressure on Asian businesses to accelerate and intensify their digital transformation plans.

Beyond increasing revenues and reducing costs, businesses face pressure from their young and digitally-savvy workforce, who expect to be connected to other businesses and employees through a complex layer of technology and applications.

One major challenge for businesses is the rapid retooling using new technologies. Many businesses underestimate the momentum of digitization and the behavioral changes necessary to succeed.  Without a proper digital strategy, major tech investments often only increase the complexity to work and be compliant with regulations.

Instead, digitally-enabled companies require creativity and innovation that comes from the business’ greatest asset – its workforce.

In order to help knowledge workers, businesses must implement new technologies that empower their employees. When technology is able to enable new ways to work, employees are able to address business needs and deliver results, which will empower businesses to reduce cost, be more effective and bring value to customers.

How can Asian businesses successfully implement a digital strategy?  

A successful digital strategy starts with communication across the organization. Leaders must identify, define and communicate a digital strategy with a sense of purpose and a shared goal that everyone can envision and work towards. This starts by explaining why is digitalization important to the company and what the framework is.

From there, the goal can easily be communicated to various parts of the organization – starting with cross-functional project teams that form to address a particular opportunity or challenge.

Breaking down traditional silos and bringing together people with different analytics, creative and industry knowledge and skills will allow people to think about problems differently and drive innovation. This also fosters a mind of experimentation, resilience, and adaptability which is crucial in the digital economy.

Finally, a digital strategy also requires working with and exploiting data in new ways. Creating experimental sandboxes to explore data allows teams to extract value from diverse data sets, so they come up with richer, more impactful, more implementable solutions for the business.

How can businesses better work with and exploit technology to their advantage?

 As digital transformation continues to change the way businesses operate, organizations need to take advantage of data-driven insights to compete in today’s market.

There’s no question that legacy IT systems are too slow and rigid for digital business. As companies modernize their IT infrastructure, they are looking to gain flexibility, visibility, and speed to meet customer demands and drive business results.

This starts with the foundation of any organization – its’ people. Businesses must look for tools, including cloud- and-content-centered solutions, which enable a major push forward for employees and businesses: the workplace of the future.

According to the IDG Workplace of the Future 2017 study, conducted by ASG Technologies and IDG Research Studies, modern employees want the flexibility of connecting and contributing to business from anywhere and at any time, from devices they are already familiar with. Businesses must digitally empower this new workforce model while still maintaining regulatory compliance and process security, especially when it comes to sensitive data.

Beyond just flexibility in the workplace, enterprises must be responsible for delivering products and services that provide both security and data accessibility.

Optimizing IT infrastructures and leveraging new technologies can help many organizations gain visibility into how to grow and improve their IT infrastructure. According to research by Aberdeen, companies with visibility are 65 times more likely to have unified dashboards that give all business units visibility into IT capacity and how systems are performing.

Finally, businesses must harness data as a source of key insights that drive business decisions.

Building business confidence in data stems from Data Lineage – the ability to trace the movement of data from its source to its point of use and to understand all the ways it is changed from point to point. This understanding is the foundation for faster business decision making, data-related regulatory compliance, and recognition of the real value of data.

When accurate and governed Data Lineage is supported by business context and quality information there’s a solid foundation for confidence, so the data-driven enterprise can drive decisions that smooth business operations, delight customers and reduce risk.

What are some of the common IT pitfalls that can cause greater confusion in the organization, instead of IT-enabled productivity?

One of the major stumbling blocks for businesses today is how to use data for better business decision-making. Today, less than 50% of businesses are very confident in their data and the analytic insights that it underpins.

For many businesses data is no more than an anchor, as they pour money into governance and compliance without any consequent increase in business confidence.

Here, Data Lineage is crucial for businesses to gain key business insights, build regulatory confidence and turning the investment in data into business value.