In recent years, we have seen digital transformation rising higher on the strategy agenda as an increasing number of leaders across multiple industries realise the urgency of adopting digitalisation in their organisations, even more so during this unprecedented period. There is also widespread recognition at the senior executive level that the role of digital technology is pivoting — from driving marginal efficiency to a more catalytic role in fuelling innovation and driving disruption. The steady increase in digital transformation initiatives has recently morphed into a surge, with businesses attempting to stay ahead of the curve. Many business leaders have expressed concern that they may have missed the boat — that it is already too late for them to adapt. They also believe that traditional cost-cutting measures are no longer enough to turn the tide. A more expansive strategic approach tuned towards improving competitiveness through the path of maximising returns from efficiency improvements, innovation and new operating models is needed in a digitalised, highly competitive business world.
At many conferences and customer meetings, the topic of digital transformation dominates business strategy discussions. CEOs continue to look to their chief technology officers (CTOs) to act as strategic partners to guide them through a series of significant changes. However, in this age of 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), almost every business has effectively become a digital enterprise, therefore digitalisation strategies need to extend beyond the CTO’s turf and actively involve the C-suite as a whole.
Chief financial officers (CFOs), for example, will be able to appreciate the value digitalisation offers to their organisation, especially as the essential financial requirements— accuracy, speed, reliability, truthfulness, driven by data, all in real time, as well as rapidly growing e-commerce opportunities — have propelled the sector to the forefront of the digitalisation curve. CFOs are in a prime position to become key influencers in driving the digitalisation agenda, as finance is a vital aspect of a company.
To future-proof further growth, it is also critical that business leaders prioritise customer experience to enhance business outcomes across multiple channels by connecting the crucial dots between people, information and systems. To achieve these objectives, senior executives are turning to cloud computing as an essential strategic driver: Cloud is perceived as a powerful technological enabler for business transformation as well as innovation, opening up fresh opportunities to review and pivot business models and deepen customer engagement.
For many enterprises, incorporating a cloud infrastructure in their systems is inevitable. However, what could adopting cloud as a strategy mean for businesses? Today, many small and medium enterprises are turning to cloud computing services and external providers to unlock greater value from their computing resources. This trend is complemented by the rapid growth in the number of cloud services, which results in the significant enablement and creation of customised cloud services that can address even the most sophisticated business and organisational requirements. This ability to tap into network, storage and computer power on demand enables a faster go-to-market path — with little upfront cost.
Thanks to the ubiquity of cloud, it is unsurprising that all organisations have started to use cloud services, in one form or another, particularly Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. Besides SaaS solutions, organisations looking to create a competitive edge by building their own applications can adopt Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for active use. Instead of having their own computing infrastructure or data centres, companies can now rent access to anything from applications to storage from a Malaysian-owned cloud service provider, i.e. TM ONE. Another major benefit of using cloud computing services is that businesses can sidestep the cost and complexity of owning and maintaining their own information technology (IT) infrastructure, and just pay for “what they use, when they use it”.
In addition, using cloud services delivers more efficient utilisation of IT resources, lowers IT infrastructure and operational costs, as well as increases the capacity to handle peaks in demand for IT resources, such as web applications and services. In an enterprise environment, cloud computing equates to a safer computing environment, through the use of virtual servers, which reduces the risk of an on-site intruder attack on physical storage devices within a data centre.
Using cloud services also eliminates bottlenecks that typically occur with the configuration, expansion and replacement of traditional on-premise IT systems and components as this is replaced through virtualisation by a flexible IT infrastructure, which can be expanded or contracted on demand.
Cloud computing also nullifies many typical challenges posed by localised power grid interruptions, physical data loss due to catastrophic events and malicious on-site attacks to the IT infrastructure. The cloud computing framework provides the optimal environment for faster, safer and cheaper delivery of IT services within an enterprise. Originally, cloud services delivered the staples: computing, networking, storage, databases, platforms and applications. Today, the cloud has evolved into a vital foundation for new frontier technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain. On top of that, industry platforms are also emerging, that is, vertical specific cloud solutions tailored to industry needs.
However, the reality of evaluating and selecting the best from all the major cloud service vendors is a little more complex. A digital enterprise will most likely adopt a multi-cloud approach, leveraging the best from the various cloud service providers — and also as a precaution against the dreaded vendor lock-in!
The International Data Corp (IDC) estimates that, by next year, more than 90% of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, several public clouds and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs. However, astute leaders will note that a heterogeneous multi-cloud environment requires specific sets of expertise from the operations and security teams — especially in cloud inventory management, which demands strict tracking of a company’s cloud inventory and workloads at all times. For enterprises yet to build this expertise, working with a cloud aggregator — who understands the complexities and can offer professional services to ease their multi-cloud adoption — will help to seamlessly and flexibly leverage the different cloud mix most appropriate to fluctuating workloads. Many organisations may also need to adhere to data residency requirements, and this means selecting a cloud service provider that can offer hosting in a data centre in Malaysia. As many cloud service providers may offer similar services, it is important that organisations takes stock and assess their IT environment to achieve an optimal move to the cloud. Key considerations are cloud design, architecture and security of the data intended for hosting on the cloud. At TM ONE, our Cloud (pronounced as Cloud Alpha) service benefits from our partnership with all the major cloud service providers, end-to-end digital infrastructure and capabilities, including our Tier III certified data centre located within Malaysia, as well as our industry experts to proactively ensure that we are able to facilitate a smooth and secure journey to the cloud for our enterprise and public sector customers.
There has never been a better time for enterprises to seize the opportunities for recovery and growth by tapping cloud computing’s full potential. The pivot to cloud computing mirrors the transition from an all-paper era to computerised systems, or from desktop to mobile. Cloud is simply the next vital step into the rapidly transforming IR4.0 era. Capitalising on a cloud infrastructure equates to flexibility, and early adopters will be the agile leaders of the pack and best positioned to reap the most rewards. As with any change, leaders need to consider factors such as needs capability building, developing expertise and instilling familiarity. Senior executives are now in the daunting yet exciting position of being able to determine how the organisation will transform into a future enterprise, and any hesitation may well leave the company in the dust. As I always tell my peers: Transformation is a question of when, not if!