Customers at the centre of change
"Digital transformation is about linking three key factors - technology, business and customers," said National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB) director of IT, Dr. Dolly Amy Harold, in her keynote address. "The digital transformation framework focuses on enhancing customer experience, operational processes and an organisation's business model."
NPFDB is a government entity which promotes family development and reproductive health. Like other government and non-government entities, it is undergoing constant transformation to cope with the disruptive change surrounding it.
"Customers are the key focus. Every organisation's digital journey is being mapped by its customers. Thus, it has to understand its customers' needs in order to provide the right service," continued Dr. Harold. "The organisation also has to decide on the operational processes which are to be digitised."
In NPFDB's case, this included demographic considerations. Some processes for its rural customers continued to require manual touches. However, this needed to be balanced with the technological demands of its urban customers which called for easier accessibility and automation.
"Most importantly, an organisation has to consider its own business model. You have to get your business case right before you embark on digital transformation. The transformation journey you decide on has to meet the organisation's purpose and core business," said Dr. Harold. "Vision and leadership is very important. Technology helps us achieve that vision but digital transformation needs directions to be successful."
She added, "We live in an evolving world where change is constant and transformation is constant. You have to change; it is a matter of survival. The wheel of disruption affects every one of us."
IDC Malaysia research director, ASEAN custom solutions, Roger Ling agreed that change was inevitable. Yet there was a lack of urgency in adopting changes amongst Malaysian companies. "Malaysian companies are reactive in nature. Unless there is an external intervention, such as the introduction of legislation like the goods and services tax (GST) or the personal data protection act (PDPA), our technology priorities tend to remain the same. However, by choosing to stay with the status quo there is a danger that these companies will fall into a black hole and become irrelevant," he warned.
Elements of successful digital transformations
Technology, people and processes continue to be crucial elements of any transformation. IBM Asia Pacific vice president, IBM Systems-Hardware Technical Sales, Christian Raetzsch, pointed to cognitive computing as being at the forefront of the next wave of technological trends.
"The next move will be fuelled by cognitive computing. Everything today is about data. However, there is still a large amount of dark data which is unused. Understanding dark data and making it useful represents both an opportunity and a challenge, and cognitive computing is being developed to understand such unstructured data," said Raetzsch. "Systems which are able to learn and adapt to different circumstances are valuable in reasoning out complex problems."
Dell South Asia and Hong Kong director for Strategy and Transformation, Martin Yates, believed that the speed of market changes made it critical for transformation to be at the top of organisational priorities.
"We are entering more volatile cycles ahead and need to be pioneers in this rapid evolution to survive. Digital transformation forces organisations to re-think their overall business strategy and road map," he said. "To be successful, organisations not only need a vision but have to share that vision with its people as you need them onboard. It is not only systems which needs changing; skill sets and processes will have to change as well."
"To improve operational processes, you first have to look at and understand the process and what needs to be fixed. Planning comes first," advised Kofax country head, Malaysia, Ranajit Chatterjee. "Analytics play an important part in understanding the process."
He continued, "Organisations also have to link their back-ends to their front-ends. A lot of data which exist at the back-end is agnostic and needs to be integrated. This is an important component of any digital strategy. It does not mean that the legacy systems you have invested time and money in have to be replaced. These remain powerful systems, but creating a digital layer for data from many sources to converge will help organisations make sense of their data."
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