The recent pandemic has thrown business leaders in Asia a curveball like never before. With business and investor sentiments at an all-time low and traditional models of businesses being disrupted, how organisations adapt, and realign their approaches and priorities, will set apart market winners from losers.
As consumer expectations and the business environment rapidly evolve, businesses need to navigate a complex web of constantly shifting challenges and unpredictable disruptions. Here are three key trends that look set to uproot Asian enterprises in the coming year. Understanding and exploiting them will be essential to establishing a platform for lasting success, for both businesses and the region.
Digitisation and Disruption Revisited
A great deal has been written on digitisation and disruption – but it was primarily focused on the technology and the enterprise. This narrow focus has changed in 2020.
Technological innovation is not a trend; it is a constant that businesses have had to adjust to over the centuries. What is changing now is the realisation of the breath, depth, scale and speed of the impact of digital transformation and disruption.
A recent Mckinsey report revealed that digitisation has made a five-year leap forward in a mere eight weeks, as companies leveraged the deployment of digital and cloud solutions for business continuity. Governments such as Singapore have pumped millions of dollars into encouraging businesses to harness technology as we move into the new business reality.
Thus, it is likely that the enterprise technology dam has well and truly burst. Businesses are now painfully aware that their technology infrastructure – the platform that their entire operation, business model and future survival is based on – is no longer fit for purpose. That is, it is no longer enough to just tinker and add “patches” to get by.
A lean, agile and flexible infrastructure is crucial to address this challenge. Many people have been looking at the cloud as a way of solving challenges with their traditional infrastructure. But cloud on its own isn’t the answer. To survive, businesses are met with the impetus to integrate and utilise the latest technology across the entire enterprise in real time, even when changing resources, focus, verticals, or even industry at a moment’s notice to keep up with, and stay ahead of, the competitors and market.
Technology is no longer just about the business. It is about the wider environment, which includes customer behaviours, market changes, economic direction, as well as technology innovation. For enterprises, having the next generation building blocks, such as a hybrid infrastructure, in place and available to help navigate this new paradigm will be critical.
In fact, our recent research has already indicated a boom in adoption and investment in next generation IT infrastructure as Asian enterprises ramp up their ability to better compete intra-region and internationally.
The Digital Enterprise: smarter, more flexible business
Smart business is not new. Enterprises have been harnessing artificial intelligence, data and analytics, and other technologies to improve efficiencies and reduce cost for some time. However, many of these initiatives have simply been project-based, not enterprise-wide. This will all change.
Until recently, trying to get clear visibility and intelligence from every aspect of the business has proved elusive. The increased adoption of hybrid cloud and enterprise cloud Operating Systems (OS) is removing this last silo of organisational dysfunction and paving the way for real time, comprehensive, and actionable intelligence.
This year marks the arrival of the digital enterprise. A digitised business that doesn’t just mitigate disruption but thrives in a world of adversities. A business that is constantly adjusting and evolving to market demands and advancing in operational sophistication and technological advancement.
These new smarter, flexible businesses will adopt next generation infrastructure to help realign operations, personnel, and even business models. It will begin to see, analyse and utilise all of its data, wherever it sits or whatever it runs on. Interoperability and visibility will become standard across the entire enterprise. It will emerge leaner and more resilient to future headwinds.
This is the increased flexibility and freedom that the digital enterprise will provide.
The Empowered Workforce
Just as enterprises and markets transform, the workforce and workplace will, too. Employment, economic and social trends are creating new ways of working as digitisation has driven rapid workplace transformation.
COVID-19 uprooted all traditional working styles and practices as businesses were forced to engage remote working practices almost overnight. In recent months, many workers have started to return to the office only to revert to full-time remote working, or decided to split their time between the office and their home on an ongoing basis – a flexible model that is likely to continue well into the future.
Work from home technology and other online collaboration tools have played a catalyst role in driving business continuity and enabling employees and devices to merge, communicating intelligently in real-time anytime, anywhere. Deloitte recently projected that up to 47.8 million people across ASEAN could permanently shift to working remotely over a multi-year horizon. The same report projected that most banks in India are actively trying to switch 95% of their workforce to work remote in lieu of the recent times. The customers anticipation of face-to-face contact amidst the pandemic has propelled even those enterprises who predominantly would never have thought of operating remote to re-evaluate their structures.
Accommodating this will provide businesses with much more productive, efficient and focused employees, at the cost of traditional “control”. Meanwhile, employees are now more empowered to operate at optimum efficiency and are enabled to quickly work from home (or anywhere) if the situation demands it.
The enterprise infrastructure is therefore being asked to be flexible in respect of the tools, technology and software it can accommodate, and the relevant security, integration, policies and access it can provide and to roll it out in days or weeks, not months or years. The battle for talent has come home to enterprises in a big way.
However, this flexibility can have consequences for staff too. For them, what is really changing is the speed and scale of their working environment.
Going forward, employees will become as flexible as the enterprise, not assigned to one department, function, location, or even team. As businesses become leaner and more agile for a post-pandemic reality, employees will be more generalist than specialist, working across multiple teams, functions and even businesses, and mobile – using the ‘personal’ toolkit provided by the digital enterprise to maintain contact, alignment, productivity and effectiveness.
Like the enterprise, they too will be self-learning, staying ahead as the pace of innovation and transformation accelerates. Digital enterprise workers will need to be proactive, staying up to date (and ahead of) the latest technologies and innovations, for the business and themselves. Ultimately, how enterprises harness these changes will be critical for improving employee satisfaction, productivity, and growth.
Any technology that can connect the dots and integrate Asia’s vast divergent technology, underlying infrastructure and market size, scope and sophistication is set to help redefine the region’s enterprises. Also, by creating the building blocks for the digital future, we are helping to redefine the region for even greater success.