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Sailing Through the Storm

T.C. Seow | Sept. 27, 2011
If the 2011 State of the Asian CXO Survey has a message for all, it is this: Time to change. And fast.

Those that are adopting cloud computing see it as an augment to their traditional IT structures rather than as a replacement. Leading the way are the small and medium-sized businesses and start-ups that are embracing cloud solutions, largely because cost savings on infrastructure are the biggest for them. The study also shows that the most popular cloud services are e-mail, productivity tools, and document management. 

Commented one of the respondents of the survey: "We are considering cloud and hosting [services] but internal IT skills and its retention [of people] remains a challenge versus opportunity abroad."

"Skill availability is an issue today," commented another respondent. "To recruit one person, one has to screen more than 100 CVs. People are available but the manpower with the right skills is an issue, or is too expensive."

That probably sums up why most companies in Asia are taking cautious steps in adopting cloud computing, chiefly because there is a dearth of such skills locally, and retaining skills, if any, may be difficult. 


Main Concerns

Table 5 yields no surprises here, as the constant changes in the external environments will no doubt create more confusion than clarity to how businesses should be run. Social media, changing customer behaviours brought about by technology, and transaction speed together will force CXOs to be nimble on their feet, to work harder to see what is out there in the market, and to move faster than the competition. It's also not surprising to see that CXOs are under pressure to deliver, working even harder than before, if the lack of time for strategic thinking and planning is a worthy indication of their increasingly heavy burden. 

Table 5

It is heartening to see that lack of executive teamwork and sharing of responsibility are no longer among the top five concerns on their roles. CXOs have learned the ropes to gain mindshare and greater cohesiveness in pushing their IT agenda ahead. Yet, difficulty in achieving IT integration remains a perennial problem. 

A word of caution: CXOs need to keep pace with technological and business changes, especially being consciously aware of the fast-changing external factors. They must be quick to respond to new market conditions, and take bold actions to further shave off some costs to be as lean as possible. The tough times ahead will be merciless - only the most agile, innovative and "opportunistic" organisations will be able to thrive and emerge triumphant in the months ahead.

Gaining business insights through business intelligence - and by extension, business analytics - is one hot goal organisations are pursuing. While the tools are readily available, BI and BA are not typical off-the-shelf offerings that any IT personnel could purchase and deploy, as the fundamentals such as clean data, and availability of relevant data should be addressed first. Moreover, to derive maximum benefits from BI and BA tools, organisations need to be staffed with the right kind of experts - users who are not just familiar with the tools but also the ability to spot patterns and trends from massive amounts of data collected and processed via the organisation's IT systems. 


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