Businesses across Southeast Asia are looking to rapidly initiate digital transformation strategies after being forced online to continue operations during the pandemic.
More than 180 top executives joined C-level speakers from a broad spectrum of industries to hear a promising outlook for our digital transformation future in a post-pandemic world during W.Media’s Spotlight digital event.
We kicked off our pre-show with Tran Viet Hoan, the Group CIO of Vietnam’s second largest company and leading automaker, THACO Group. He noticed digital transformation is happening fast with banks, microfinance and life insurance industries pioneering DX strategies during the pandemic.
Mr Tran warned: “If you don’t transform your business digitally, you will die faster.”
Telcos in Southeast Asia is just one example of where digital transformation is happening constantly, moving from traditional landlines and cell phones to a digitally connected platform.
Mr Tran said: “VNPT, the biggest telco service provider in Vietnam, only moved to the platform for agriculture. You could not believe that 10 years before, a telco company did agriculture.”
A Gartner study revealed around 50% of successful digital transformation strategies focus on people issues and 37% on process issues. Mr Tran advised listeners to focus on customer experience, operational efficiencies, business model transformation and pain points, with the customer coming first.
Mr Tran added: “No digital transformation is successful without investment throughout the business, this includes every single staff in the organisation, including the Chairman or CEO.”
We were then joined by Nelson Tan, the Director of InfoComm Infrastructure at Nanyang Technological University, who shared a fascinating case study on how NTU digitally transformed their operations during the pandemic.
Thriving through automation and digitisation
In our first panel session, we explored how startups and enterprises can overcome the challenges of digitisation.
Maximising sustainability is crucial for companies going through these unprecedented times. Jae Lee, CTO of online travel agency WorldRoamer, believes applying process automation is one initiative that could achieve sustainability.
At WorldRoamer, they focus automation on business operation and product development workflow to find areas where they can reduce the lead time in communication and resolution time for product delivery.
Aik-Phong Ng, the Managing Director for Fave, a leading lifestyle app in Singapore, believes the outlook for digital transformation is a positive one with a lot of opportunities to increase business and reduce costs.
Mr Ng said: “I think one of the reasons is because there really is no choice. You’re forced [to go digital] by regulation or because your revenue drops to zero.”
Before the pandemic, Fave would physically onboard around 1,000 merchants a month for their cashless payment product using QR codes. Now, during the Circuit Breaker period in Singapore, they digitally onboard merchants, leading to an increase in efficiency and sales productivity.
Mr Ng added: “Those who can adapt and thrive in this new environment and work remotely are going to be the winners.”
The Chairman of the global professional body of IT architects, IASA, Aaron Tan Dani noted that case studies of successful digital transformation have applied an enterprise architecture model by understanding how the changes to operations have impacted internal and external stakeholders.
Creating a innovative culture through technology leadership
Digital Transformation efforts often require a transformational culture in their people, processes and technology, but many separate the business teams from the IT teams. Transformation strategies require strong commitment from senior management to enable both teams to collaborate and work closely on strategy.
Axel Winter, the CTO for Thailand’s largest retailer, Central Group, said: “Empowerment is important, but you need the CEO, CIO, CTO, CMO to be in the day to day perspective going into the details.”
He added: “This is not something you can have a traditional people manager looking at your report once a week. There has to be instant messaging, there has to be daily touch points across the bottom to the top.”
Wilbertus Darmadi, the CIO of Toyota Astra Motors, started digitally transforming the business by setting a technology benchmark against large companies like Microsoft and AWS to open the mindset of C-level staff and showing them examples of how businesses can change using technology.
Mr Darmadi also highlighted one way to digitally transform staff and help them become digitally ready was by modernising the physical environment of their offices and promoting an innovative culture with competitions.
Stay tuned for more insights from our Digital Transformation Spotlight Digital Event
In the coming weeks, we will take a deeper look at the sessions from the digital event, including answers to your unanswered questions!
Thank you to our supporting partners across Southeast Asia. We will be back on Thursday 21 May to discover how Open Compute Project Foundation’s open networking solutions can transform legacy data center systems.