Geographies in Depth

Why is Singapore struggling with digital adoption?

UBS employees demonstrate how their eye movements are being tracked to provide feedback on the interface design of a banking application on a tablet computer at their innovation center Evolve in Singapore March 17, 2016.

In Singapore, 92% of organizations report difficulties keeping up with the pace of change Image:  REUTERS/Edgar Su

Ron Totton
Managing Director, South East Asia, BT Global Services
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The Digital Economy

This article is part of: World Economic Forum on ASEAN

The coming together of humans and technology in new ways is resulting in fundamental changes in how individuals, teams and organizations work, live and play.

But mastering this Fourth Industrial Revolution and transforming a business into a digital enterprise is not easy. There’s no blueprint to follow, and each organization’s journey is unique.

In Singapore, 92% of organizations reported that their current infrastructure is struggling to support the rapid adoption of digital technologies, according to a recent BT report, which interviewed more than 1,000 decision-makers in the field of information technology. Globally, the figure was only 65%.

So are Asian businesses trailing the West in terms of digital adoption? Not really, but we found that the disruptive technology trends that were cited as driving the most profound change within large organizations were cloud (58%), mobility and collaboration (54%) and data (52%).

Image: BT

A different picture in Asia

Yet in Asia, it was mobility (72%) and software-defined networking (68%) that were seen as having the most profound change. Cloud-based technologies have already been embraced by organizations in the region, with almost three-quarters of organizations saying they are completely or predominantly cloud-centric, compared with only 65% globally.

So if Asia’s chief information officers are already using the cloud (and managing to reduce costs and increase efficiency and agility), why are they struggling to adopt digital technologies?

One factor could be time: 80% of those surveyed in Singapore felt that information officers are forced to spend more time maintaining IT systems than searching for new solutions. Only 61% of respondents from other countries felt the same. The percentage has gone up since a similar survey in 2014, when the figure was 66%.

McKinsey estimates that employing disruptive technologies – mobility, big data, the internet of things, cloud technology and the automation of knowledge work – could produce $220 billion to $625 billion in annual economic impact for South-East Asia by 2030.

So, how can information professionals explore these technologies?

The smartest companies are bridging the gap between business and technology, and responding to both employees’ and customers’ expectations simultaneously. More than 90% of chief information officers reported that digital transformation meant their requirements from technology suppliers, such as communications and IT services providers, were changing. They are now seeking more advice and collaboration on end-to-end solutions, freeing them up to be more creative.

Technology has never been more important. It opens up amazing new worlds for organizations of all sizes and shapes, helping them find their digital possible.

This article is part of our ASEAN series. You can read more here.

The World Economic Forum on ASEAN is taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 1 to 2 June.

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