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The nitty-gritty of Malaysia's Digital Business Shift: Gartner interview

AvantiKumar | March 3, 2015
Following the recent unveiling of its top 10 Digital Business predictions for Asia Pacific, Gartner's Poh-Ling Lee and Andy Rowsell-Jones give more insights into the challenges for Malaysian organisations as the relationship between human and machine changes.

According to analyst firm Gartner's recent top 10 predictions for 2015 for Asia Pacific, the digital business economy is bringing change across many industries. Entire organisations, from IT professionals, board of directors to even business leaders need to take this into account when planning their strategies and business implementation moving forward in 2015.

Gartner's top 10 predictions for 2015 and beyond examine a shift in the age-old relationship between human and machine, due to the emergence of digital business. That shift can most easily be characterised as a re-examination of the roles machines play in businesses.

Reflecting this shift towards the digital landscape, Malaysia is expected to see a rise in technology spending in the next few years. Gartner initially predicted that MYR69.5 [US$4.55] billion would be spent in 2015, an increase of 8.4 percent from 2014.

Computerworld Malaysia asked Gartner's research vice-president, Andy Rowsell-Jones and vice president & executive partner, Poh-Ling Lee (pictures below)  to detail the challenges Malaysian organisations need to handle to remain relevant and effective. As their responses  to all questions have been combined, and  include much data, a QA format has been used here.

Andy Rowsell-Jones, Research Vice President, Gartner Inc 

Photo - Andy Rowsell-Jones, Research Vice President, Gartner Inc 

Could you start with an overview of the shift of organisations towards Digital in Malaysia in the coming 12-18 months and also where Malaysia stands from a global and regional perspective?

The big idea contained in this year's annual Gartner CIO survey is: "To grasp the digital opportunity, incrementally improving IT performance isn't enough. Enterprises and their CIOs need to 'flip' from legacy to digital in terms of information and technology leadership, value leadership and people leadership." Since digital is something Malaysia CIOs are adopting in large numbers, this advice is highly relevant here, and it is also daunting.

Like the rest of the world (ROW), Malaysia is witnessing a digital transformation of many industries, with 22 percent of business executives and IT professionals polled by Gartner in 2014 claiming they are already doing some form of digital business. As the transition is gathering pace, CIOs need to change their leadership style to overcome the challenges that follow.

According to Gartner's 2015 CIO survey, a very high 97 percent of CIOs in Malaysia agree that in addition to the considerable opportunities it brings, the digital world is creating new, different and higher levels of risk. Nearly four out of five Malaysia CIOs agree that risk management techniques are falling behind the reality of digital transformation.

CIOs in Malaysia therefore need to review with the enterprise and IT risk leaders whether risk management is adapting fast enough to a digital world.

A way to deal with unexpected risks is to adopt more agile risk management techniques as a way to sense and respond to unknown and unexpected types of risk. The survey results showed that 93 percent of Malaysia CIOs agree.

  • The next challenge with digital is who is to lead it. Based on other Gartner research, it is clear that the transition to a digital business is no different than most complex changes. It needs unambiguous leadership with clear accountabilities to make sure all the moving parts stay in sync.
  • Whether this leadership will come from the CIO is still in the balance. Malaysia CIOs are bullish about their prospects of becoming the digital leaders of their enterprise, with 45 percent suggesting it will be them. In contrast, CEOs see digital leadership as much more of a team sport with responsibility for digital more evenly distributed among the management team.
  • The move to digital entails multiyear changes in information, technology, business processes, business models and talent. Malaysia CIOs are placing the priority for investments on core systems refresh (data centre and ERP), but are then embracing "Nexus of Forces" technologies (analytics, cloud, mobile and social).
  • There is nothing in our CIO survey that suggests Malaysia CIOs are lagging or doing any worse than their peers worldwide. However, complacency may be fatal.


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