Authored by: Praveen Kumar, General Manager, Asia Pacific
Over the last five years, data has undergone an interesting journey in the region. It has not only grown in importance for organisations, but it has also evolved into a key asset to manage and understand. What was once just an organisational ideal, or a quickly replaced line item on IT budgets, has become a necessity. Today, in order to create a mobile-friendly business and reach potential customers at the pace of change, organisations are recognising that they must move beyond legacy environments to manage structural changes in products, services and systems.
Current mandates to work from home and ensure that customers are not affected during the current COVID-19 pandemic have exposed businesses that were not prepared from an employee and business perspective. Digital-enabled businesses have expanded their employees' access to information from anywhere with the confidence that it is protected. Additionally, if customers can use services, such as mobile banking, or make online purchases, the chances of survival during this time, and after, are better than those who are not in a position to offer these services to customers. A similar debate erupted about the need for a corporate website during the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s, and that has expanded today to include the universe of mobile devices, as well as issues around securing data.
To support this evolution, companies in the Asia Pacific region were increasing their spending on digital transformations. This overall acceleration of digital transformation efforts has also required companies to adopt more sophisticated data management technologies and processes. In 2019, IDC predicted that spending would reach USD 375 billion in the region and grow at a CAGR of 17.4 percent until 2022. However, in light of the current pandemic, it is expected that investments in information and communications technology (ICT) will contract in the short term and start to pick up again in the second half of the year.
The role of data management in digital transformation
Around 2012, a revolution began in this space as businesses sought to consolidate, store, conduct research, and analyse data in one system. After many retailers, financial institutions, and media companies implemented data warehouses, the industry gained some key insights about how data is used in these organisations. The first was that data is used in more than just one part of the organisation, meaning that a data warehouse would have to transform into an element of the entire landscape. Organisations may have applications in various locations that are storing data but cannot consolidate it into one warehouse. The second was data duplication, which resulted in the data becoming irrelevant if it was not changed in every location. The third and latest insight is around tracing the data to see where it resides, how it has been transformed as it changed, whether it has been duplicated and if it can be removed.
Data management has become a crucial issue for businesses seeking to utilise the huge volumes of data they are generating, and data governance has been a key driver for many businesses to invest. As organisations digitise more operations, the sources of data broaden, and access capabilities increase. Some organisations have also created Chief Data Officer roles so that they can better govern the data they have, as well as what is going in and out. However, digital transformation is not just about transferring data to the cloud. The transition creates a different set of issues that must be managed. Investing in cloud infrastructure enables companies to resolve issues with security and workload management, but what it does not solve is data governance. The cloud provides an environment for organisations to conduct business, but it does not control how the business is done. As a result, it cannot be viewed as a one-size-fits-all solution by businesses.
There are some digital-native organisations that are adept at managing their data, but many are still in the process of digital transformation from a legacy environment to more of a mobile-friendly, digital environment for front and back-end business processes. Companies that want to stand out in the current environment, and beyond, need to be agile in the face of change. They need to have information available and accessible in real-time, manage the data effectively and maintain security to foster trust in what the organisation is receiving from - and providing to - external stakeholders. It is no longer a just boardroom conversation, but a conversation that every employee increasingly wants to have.