Authored by: Sheena Chin, General Manager of ASEAN, Cohesity
Digital transformation is the first step in business transformation. Every organisation of every size in every sector must take advantage of the strategic opportunities that data-led digital transformation affords.
In many ways, the power of this strategic shift was already apparent before the pandemic. The success of digital-native start-ups such as Amazon, Airbnb, Shopee, and even Grab in the payments sector, has pointed the way forward for slower-moving enterprise laggards considered too big to fall from grace. In Southeast Asia, KPMG highlighted Singapore's position as the only mature data centre market in the region, as well as its ranking as the third most robust data centre market globally out of 38 countries. Amid economic uncertainties and disruptive innovations, the pandemic has created pathways for businesses to accelerate digital transformation and bring organisations to new levels of success.
Ever since the crisis started, employees have spent less time in the office and a lot more time working remotely at home, which required a full-tilt shift towards digital transformation. Organisations that were slower in recognising the power of digital and data mobility had to embrace the cloud and online collaboration technologies for business continuity and ensure that customers' expectations are met.
The rapid response of Chief Information Officers and business leaders to the coronavirus pandemic has shown the difference technology can make in times of crisis. However, digital transformation is more than just short-term steps such as buying software or using new tools. To thrive in the post-COVID age, business leaders need to place digital transformation at the heart of their business strategy and identify and overcome the roadblocks.
So, what data issues are holding businesses back? The answer to this question can be tied directly to data ‒ its availability, accessibility, and most importantly, its security. Chiefly, the biggest roadblock is mass data fragmentation.
Today's businesses generate massive volumes of data stored in a dizzying array of IT infrastructure silos, which leads to mass data fragmentation. IT teams are overburdened with the challenge of managing data, when it is scattered across the organisation in this fashion.
IT leaders have an opportunity to shape a strategic response to address mass data fragmentation and leverage the value to the business of a well-thought-out digitalisation strategy.
Using data to drive business transformation
Business transformation should be built upon the company's data. Whether it is looking for ideas to inspire innovation across the organisation, validating company strategies, or finding the capabilities to deliver value to the business, the answers to these questions can be found in data.
With the pandemic, the environmental crisis, fast-changing customer demands and rapid technological advances, organisations are facing volatile times. However, by utilising company data, CIOs and IT leaders are empowered to create opportunities amid this volatility. The most successful organisations will take calculated, strategic risks to set them apart from the competition. To win, they will develop a data-driven technology and customer-focused strategy built and executed with a clear understanding of the most critical trends.
The recent CIO research from Harvey Nash and KPMG show that pioneering digital leaders regard data as a critical asset. Driven by the need for operational efficiencies, customer engagement, and the development of new products and services, 55 per cent of technology leaders share that they received a budget increase. With more resources, they are four times more likely than others to maximise the value of their data. The report also revealed that as a result of COVID -19, technology leaders in Asia gained 66 per cent increased influence in the organisation.
However, taking advantage of data is far from straightforward. As organisations are inundated with data from disparate sources, there is no shortage of information but definitely a shortage of insight. Many companies still hoard data without a set objective, and with data stored in unconnected stove pipes, information remains fragmented. The game-changing knowledge embedded within this data remains hidden in dark corners of the network. CIOs can only help their organisations identify new opportunities if they can sift through their data to find the details that matter, which is why the company's data management approach can make a big difference.
Building an effective approach to data management
Technology will be the key to helping businesses unlock the value of their information. The creation of value from data can only happen if an organisation has the right application solutions, cloud configurations, business processes and analytics capabilities in place.
In a hybrid world of internal data centres and public clouds, businesses need a robust data management strategy. They will need an architecture and a platform that allows them to consolidate information and run analytics that enables C-Suite executives to make insightful, informed and intelligent decisions.
Smart investment strategies matter today more than ever and enterprises are beginning to recognise the value of technology to thrive in a post-pandemic world. Gartner estimates that worldwide IT spending will reach US$3.8 trillion in 2021, an increase of 4 per cent over 2020.
With new operating models emerging during the pandemic such as a shift into e-commerce, and the development of new web channels, which helped businesses boost customer experiences and generate new revenues at extreme times, investments in digitalisation will accelerate.
Now is the time to use data to assess how digital transformation plans can lead to a long-term strategic advantage. Organisations need to maximise their IT operational expenditures and scale innovative projects up or down once a business advantage is identified.
Digital transformation will continue to remain at the centre of business transformation. A practical approach to data management can help businesses eliminate mass data fragmentation and unleash the true value of their data. By doing this, business leaders can be truly confident with every strategic decision they make.