Photo: Participants at the SAP Breakfast Roundtable on 31 July 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The rapid changes facing today's business enterprises are being driven by higher client expectations and the challenges of staying ahead of rising competition in a global landscape. What role is IT playing in this race and how is it being utilised to accelerate transformation across enterprises?
Senior IT leaders of global enterprises in Malaysia gathered at the DoubleTree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur on 31 July 2012 to discuss the challenges they faced as a strategic player in their organisation's transformation roadmap. The Executive Roundtable discussion was moderated by T.C. Seow, editor of CIO Asia and sponsored by SAP.
Once considered a support function, IT is now seen as a driver of business growth. IT's contribution to an enterprise's goals is being weighed in terms of the value it adds to the enterprise's business performance. In addition to providing operational stability, IT groups are being measured by their ability to deal with changing market demands whilst managing a competitive cost structure as well as meeting end-user expectations on speed and flexibility. Such expectations have seen IT groups exploring a wider range of market solutions beyond the offerings of traditional solution providers.
"When it comes to system upgrades, the question every business unit asks is: what is the business value of the upgrade?" said Edwin Chew, Head -- EBSI/SAP, eGenting. "Business units are no longer interested in just getting a technical upgrade, which they realise is a necessity. What is more important to them is the additional value which is generated from such upgrades."
Echoing this view, June Ng, Head, Group IT, Fraser & Neave Holdings (F&N) agreed that IT had to justify the investment behind any upgrade. "Business units are more interested in reaping value-added benefits," she said. "They are looking for enhancements and new capabilities. They want additional functions which will provide them with a competitive edge."
She added that there was little room for transformation if only incremental improvements were made to current applications. "Our resources are currently heavily deployed in maintenance, upgrades and resolving technical issues," she said. "The heavy use of human resource in such areas results in IT having little leeway in focusing on the business aspects of our organisations. So, we want solutions which will free us from maintenance and allows us to concentrate on more innovative pursuits."
Ng pointed to cloud-based solutions as an example. "F&N have adopted some cloud-based applications and we are happy with how these have worked out. We do not have to worry about infrastructure, backup or upgrade exercises which happen at the back-end. Any new features just have to be switched on. This allows IT to focus on functionality," she said.
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