Digital enterprise transformation in 2016: Accelerating the accelerated

Asia Pacific is swiftly becoming the ‘frontline for the Internet of Things (IoT) with 8.6 billion connected devices and a robust digital infrastructure, according to an IDC report, and most countries in the region are actively implementing digital initiatives to help transform their nations into smart economies. While this presents innumerable opportunities for businesses to tap into, it is vital for companies to leverage technology and innovate faster in order to keep up with the rapid adoption of all things digital.

IDC predicted that by 2017, 60 per cent of APAC’s top 1,000 enterprises will have digital transformation at the centre of their corporate strategy. Ahead of speaking at CommunicAsia later this year, here are my predictions and suggestions for the enterprise industry in 2016, including my three must-haves – Live Enterprise, Digital Business Networks and Security – to enable businesses on their digital transformation journey:

Live enterprise: Flexibility is the name of the game

At the very core of businesses, today’s digital era offers the opportunity to evolve into what we call a ‘live enterprise’. From enhanced seamless and personalised customer experiences to a more engaged workforce and supply chain, a ‘live enterprise’ essentially predicts and acts with the future in mind, rather than solely reporting the past. This means incorporating agile business processes and possessing the ability to mass customise everything for every single consumer. It also gives the ability to connect each colleague and asset to a single, intelligent and digital core system – one that can anticipate, simulate and innovate new opportunities on the fly.

With one of the youngest workforces in the world, the Asia Pacific region is in the best position to use these technologies effectively in its businesses. However, in a region as diverse as Asia that is characterised by emerging and developed markets, not all infrastructures are fully developed, potentially slowing down growth. This is where collaboration between the private and public sectors, together with live insights and technologies, will determine the pace and success of digital transformation across markets.

Beyond adoption, approach and collaboration, digital transformation and development of live enterprises has to be driven from within the organisations. We have seen that digital transformation can be driven either by the CIO or by the newly defined roles of a Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or a Chief Experience Officer (CXO). What is essential is that driving the core digital needs, capabilities and skills beyond the traditional IT practice and business savvy-ness is a critical success factor. For a truly flexible and effective system, the leadership has to adapt practices such as agile, bi-modal IT that can accelerate the time to value and provide a bridge between the desired outcomes and tools that could be used.

Digital Business Networks as the new marketplace

Digital Business Networks will become the platform of choice for transactions and commerce. In this marketplace, the responsibility to orchestrate the process into one which is seamless and integrated inevitably becomes the challenge. Just think about how social networks have changed day-to-day behaviour for individuals. Now take that concept, and apply it to the way businesses work together to deliver their products and services.

Digital Business Networks will become a new gateway to the global consumer, while the collaboration between government agencies, multinationals, start-ups and entrepreneurs will determine the pace and success of its adoption. Here are three tips for businesses to successfully foray into their digital transformation:

  • Define a digital transformation roadmap that clearly outlines the business outcomes and benefits to all C-Suite stakeholders and gets their buy in.
  • Use agile methods to rapidly test the actual outcome versus the desired outcome and improve fast.
  • Ensure an effective collaboration method is in place and is accessible so the organisation can learn and adapt from its successes and failures.

Security becomes priority

The Global State of Information Security Survey 2016 revealed that companies are becoming increasingly alert to cyber threats. Ten years ago, information security was largely seen as an IT topic. However, with digital becoming part of our everyday lives and implications of data losses critical, concerns have been elevated to the boardroom. In the future, when virtually everything can be connected to the Internet, we have to remember that everything that can be connected to the Internet can potentially be hacked. With Big Data – ranging from customer information, financial transactions, employee records to social media feedback – companies need to look at more effective ways to secure, store and track the vast amounts of data that will be generated.

The future of cyber security lies in combining solutions for pattern-based recognition of security breaches and the ability to correlate large volumes of current runtime data, including network activity. For example, there are solutions that focus on identifying external attacks as they are happening. The solution’s pattern recognition functionality filters out anomalies such as suspicious discrepancies between a user’s past and current behaviour – perhaps as the result of a hacking attack.

What is promising is that the same global security survey showed that enterprises are becoming increasingly convinced of the value of data-driven analysis to protect their businesses.

The key is picking a comprehensive suite of products and services which allows businesses to embark on a successful digital journey that brings all the participants’ solutions to deliver a profitable, seamless and integrated experience. It is intelligent strategy, not solely technology that drives digital transformation.

For more insights on how your business can leverage smart technologies to meet the demands of the highly complex digital world, join Manik Narayan Saha, Chief Information Officer, Asia Pacific and Japan for SAP at the CommunicAsia2016 Summit.

Manik Saha, CIO, Asia Pacific and Japan for SAP

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