APAC firms confident of digital readiness despite not being ready

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ITEM: Most companies in Asia-Pacific are confident about their ‘digital readiness’ – even though many don’t have the budget, skillsets or modernized IT infrastructure to enable that readiness.

That’s according to a new report from Cisco this week, which ranks Asia-Pacific’s digital transformation readiness. Overall, 92% of respondents said they had a digital transformation strategy, while 88% feel confident that the strategy will ultimately work. Meanwhile, 88% of IT leaders said they are “adequately prepared to adopt the relevant technologies for the future.”

The sole exception is Japan, where only 41% of respondents expressed confidence in their company’s digital transformation strategy. (For every other country, that number was at least 84%.) That confidence naturally varies by company, with large organizations (more than 10,000 employees) slightly less confident about tech adoption than smaller companies unburdened by legacy IT.

The report says the ASEAN markets in particular are the most confident of anyone, with 94% of companies in those markets expressing confidence in their digital transformation strategy, and 93% saying they are prepared to adopt the necessary technologies – the most important being cloud, cybersecurity, big data and analytics and automation.

However the report also found that confidence is one thing – actual execution is something else. Many companies surveyed have been slow to adopt those transformational technologies, citing barriers such as budget constraints, lack of adequate talent and unfit IT infrastructure.

Budget remains the biggest obstacle for 42% of respondents across Asia-Pacific, many of whom admitted making compromises to bring the price down. More to the point, 37% of them regretted that decision afterwards “because the solution was unreliable (48%) and didn’t meet the expectations (45%)”. Result: almost half of respondents said they ended up spending more than they’d originally hoped.

As for aging IT infrastructure, it’s worth noting that the problem isn’t that companies aren’t upgrading their IT – in fact 90% reported they had implemented upgrades in the last three years. The problem is that they haven’t been upgrading all of it – areas like networking, data centers and security tend to be neglected, especially for larger companies.

Speaking of security, one instructive finding from the report is that in cases where cybersecurity has taken priority, 42% admitted that was only after they had been hacked.

One other point of interest: as digital transformation technologies go (or at least the ones listed by Cisco), the lowest priority overall is on IoT, automation and – unsurprisingly – 5G (with the exception of South Korea, which just happens to be launching 5G in March next year).

There’s a lot to unpack in the report, which you can read for yourself here.

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