Why Asia’s digital roadmap must include greater cloud transparency
Article by Terry Maiolo, VP & GM, APAC, OVHcloud
In recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has emerged as a cloud solutions stalwart. Today, exponential growth numbers continue to be propelled by digital transformation initiatives across both private and public sectors alike, alongside a growing appetite for the adoption of emerging technologies such as 5G-driven Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) applications, as well as the rise of the metaverse, and Web 3.0 technologies.
Overall cloud spend is already anticipated to reach US$200 billion by 2024, and this is a trend that will only continue to grow as millions of consumers go online for the first time in developing markets. Specifically, a recent IDC study found that it is more nascent cloud adopters like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia that are driving global cloud infrastructure revenue growth. With cloud services as central to any forward-looking business – offering expanded data storage capabilities, flexibility to scale operations and remote access to employees – organizations across the region are, understandably, eager to tap into these advantages.
Additionally, in today’s digital environment that is quickly becoming disrupted by generative AI solutions like ChatGPT, more businesses will look to the cloud to unlock new frontiers of growth. As a critical gateway to availing embedded AI capabilities to businesses at scale, the cloud will be increasingly leveraged not just for valuable, data-informed insights alone, but a transformation of business processes and customer interactions in real-time.
There is no question: the cloud is synonymous with digital success for businesses in APAC. Yet, although these cloud-driven rapid developments are exciting, they come with new data-centric challenges that businesses must conquer to ensure customer safety and retain digital trust.
New technology, new risks, new regulations
After all, with rapid digitalization, the region and the world will continue to become more interconnected than ever. With that, global transfers of personal data will increase in tandem – these data flows are what drive business innovation on a broad scale and enable organizations to deliver highly-relevant customer interactions regardless of where customers are based. However, processing data through new solutions like the cloud often risks exposing sensitive information, with personal data becoming a hot commodity for hackers.
For one, the APAC region is the most targeted by cyber attackers, with several high-profile attacks on businesses and even government agencies as a firm testament to this. Singapore —one of the region’s most digitally advanced countries — reported a 65% hike in public sector data leaks in 2022, which only underscores the urgency to double down on data protection given the quickly expanding threat surface.
It is hardly surprising that governments are shoring up efforts to safeguard consumer data, given the growing reliance on digital technologies and the cloud in particular. The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may have long set the standard on data protection, but countries like Indonesia and Vietnam have also recently introduced mandates that necessitate local data storage, such as for financial and public sector data, as well as foreign technology and telecommunications businesses respectively.
The complexity that accompanies data sovereignty
Just as importantly, for a truly data-secure APAC digital ecosystem, government regulations cannot be the only standard. Cloud providers and other technological bodies also need to consider how they can collectively combat the growing threat of cyber breaches, with other safeguards in place. Essential for the future use of new technologies, both businesses and governments alike must also consider key challenges to maintain their duty of care whilst delivering innovative technologies to their customers.
Furthermore, a digital environment ruled by government regulations alone will put the region’s hard-fought digital growth at risk. On the logistical end, there is an existing discrepancy between countries on data protection policies. While countries such as India and Australia are reluctant to enact all-compassing regulations, other markets in the region fall on the other end of the spectrum. Crucially, these discrepancies can create a complex regulatory landscape to navigate, therefore leaving companies lost in how regulation is enforced differently in different parts of the world and hindering local customers from taking advantage of cloud services. In the end, with data as the lifeblood of the APAC digital economy, ensuring uninhibited and safe data flows, through the cloud, will be paramount to the success of the region.
Cloud transparency: Honesty is the best policy
With these complexities in mind, Asia’s journey towards adopting cloud solutions must be one that prioritizes transparency. Especially when over 80% of organizations will face modern privacy and data protection requirements by 2024, there is no alternative. Transparency therefore needs to be the standard demanded by businesses, and one that cloud providers are willing to meet.
Not only will transparency allow for greater compliance with data protection policies both locally and globally, but having full visibility on data location is also pivotal to organizations retaining control of data in the cloud, and by extension, their business. Particularly with such a dynamic regulatory landscape here, doing so will enable businesses to ensure data storage and usage practices are compliant, thereby exempting them from infringements and hefty fines. Additionally, a digitally-forward business is also one that recognizes that success is built on digital trust and that regaining lost customer trust will be an uphill battle.
In making transparency a key consideration, questions businesses should then be asking their existing and/or prospective cloud service providers should include:
- Where is my data stored?
- What laws apply to my data and who could access it?
- Does my cloud provider follow best practices in terms of security and data protection?
Ultimately, the APAC region holds immense promise. In its quest to realize the value of its digital economy, estimated to surpass US$1 trillion for Southeast Asia alone, cloud transparency will be foundational to advancing the region further while ensuring existing success on the digital front is safeguarded.
The views in the article are of the author and may not represent the views of Tech Wire Asia.
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