ASEAN leaders are doubling down on cloud basics in 2023. According to new research from UK think tank Asia House, Asia’s accelerated digital transformation, buoyed by stronger collaboration and solid monetary policies, is continuing on the path to resilience and growth.
This approach, which, as we will shortly see, relies greatly on the adroit use of data, is much needed to help offset various economic headwinds in 2023. And, of course, cloud and connectivity infrastructure together form the core enabler of digital transformation initiatives and processes.
Interestingly, Phyllis Papadavid, director of Research and Advisory, Asia House said: “Our outlook indicates that Asia’s growth prospects continue to hinge on an acceleration in digital transformation, greater regional coordination, and striking the right balance in broader monetary policy across the region.
“Furthermore, the Asia House Economic Readiness Indices suggest that prioritising economic readiness for both climate change and digitalisation, and the policies that link the two, will be essential for Asia’s higher growth trajectory.”
ASEAN leaders face three top priorities
Citing research conducted with Forrester Consulting, Papadavid believes that business leaders in ASEAN face three top priorities in the pursuit of customer acquisition in the coming year. The top three priorities are increasing automation, increasing the speed and accuracy of risk decisions, and harnessing more insights from existing data.
Luciano Scalise, managing director, Decision Analytics, EMEA & APAC, at Experian put the global information services company’s goal succinctly.
“During life’s big moments – from buying a home or a car, to sending a child to college, to growing a business by connecting with new customers – we empower consumers and our clients to manage their data with confidence. We help individuals to take financial control and access financial services.”
However, there are numerous challenges to achieving these aims in the current macroeconomic climate for companies of all sizes.
“These challenges are not unique to us as a region, and all companies are facing them today. Key headwinds include economic uncertainties and the threat of prolonged inflation, stagflation, and recession pressures. There are political and geopolitical uncertainties as well.”
Why a cloud strategy is the way ahead
In his role as director of decision analytics solutions at the largest credit company in the world, Luciano helps businesses stay competitive by using the company’s solutions to make smarter decisions, help lenders can lend more responsibly, and organisations can prevent identity fraud and crime.
Speaking about his vision of the future of the cloud, he first pointed out that business leaders face a confluence of challenges that potentially hinder growth.
“These include inflation, economic uncertainty, and credit stress. Some are also held back by budget constraints, work cultures with slower innovation, and legacy systems.”
The inevitable path ahead to secure growth opportunities is to prioritise a strategy of digital transformation and a cloud-ready infrastructure.
He points out that “Customer acquisition is a top priority for many businesses today, and Experian’s latest research found that the top three priorities that businesses face in customer acquisition are increasing automation, increasing speed and accuracy of risk decisions, and harnessing more insights from existing data.”
“To stay competitive, businesses need technology infrastructure that is agile and easily scalable, something that cloud computing enables for them.”
“Additionally, scalable computing power is required to embed new technology, such as Machine Learning,” Luciano continued. “Our research with Forrester Consulting found that the main reason for investment in cloud-based software applications was access to more computing power, alongside greater flexibility and scalability of services. Firms want an easier way to scale, whether that’s up or down, and a way to consume new services in a much more flexible way, with less reliance on internal IT teams.”
He added that cloud-based solutions reduce IT overheads and offer a flexible pricing model.
“With no software to install, businesses can be up and running in days or weeks. The cloud lets businesses use the latest version of software with automatic access to new features and security updates that address changing market conditions and drive innovation in their businesses.”
More recently, businesses of all sizes are now turning to the cloud to manage decisioning software, which provides a way to support peaks in demand but also to accelerate software updates and enhancements, with new capability automatically pushed in as a service model.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digitalisation, more businesses are turning to cloud delivery models for speed, agility, and getting to market quickly.”
Luciano also shared recent use cases from the company’s experience.
“Our client sought to increase their book size by engaging with their channel partners – mainly fintech organisations demanding instant approval with minimal deviations and handoffs – for their personal and business loans portfolios.”
The client used Experian’s PowerCurve Customer Acquisition available on Experian One, the financial services platform implemented real-time decisioning for their channel partners.
This included the ability to make frequent changes based on their business requirements and ability to scale volumes without impacting their decisioning response time or running manual software updates.
Luciano said: “These are all key components of an ideal cloud strategy – which provides speed, scalability, the flexibility of making changes, and having instant response timings to ensure efficiency and an excellent customer journey.”
Indeed, this use case reflects rising momentum within the financial services sector for cloud adoption in recent years, accelerated by trends such as digital banking, with new digital banking licenses granted across Southeast Asia. Cloud solutions are ideal for businesses in the banking and financial services sector, fintechs, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) players, and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) that have all grown rapidly in recent years.
“While the customer segments and objectives will differ for each of these businesses listed above, all of them will be able to enjoy a low entry cost, scalability, low coding, and open architecture for additional integrations,” he explained. “Furthermore, agility is one of the key benefits that cloud solutions offer, enabling businesses to keep up with a rapidly evolving ecosystem.”
Moving to a cloud-powered 4IR era
The road to transforming data into insightful and actionable information rests on the cloud. Taking Malaysia as an example of an Asian country’s prioritising cloud adoption, communications infrastructure providers play a key role.
The country’s principal driver of this is the Telekom Malaysia (TM) Group. More recently, industry observers have noted TM’s moves to speed up its journey towards becoming a TechCo– while building on its core mission of connectivity to assist Malaysia’s race into the digital age.
Announced in early 2020, MyDIGITAL was the country’s 10-year bid to vitalise its digital economy trajectory, which includes boosting digital economy contributions to 22.6% of national gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, well as opening up 500,000 new job opportunities. The new government shows all signs of accelerating digital initiatives in 2023.
The group’s enterprise and government sector arm, TM One, has continued focus on catalysing Malaysia’s business and government sectors has seen the joining together of essential pieces of the jigsaw, according to Shazurawati Abd Karim, TM One executive vice president, speaking in an interview last year.
She outlined several other advances made despite the COVID period.
“One defining moment is when we enhanced the capabilities of α Edge (Cloud Alpha) with AI – thus becoming an Intelligent Industry Cloud Platform, with full-stack hyperscaler capabilities hosted at TM One’s Tier-III Data Centre in Malaysia. This is Malaysia’s only hyperscaler cloud with end-to-end services, which meet local, residency and sovereignty data requirements as well as AI capabilities that comply with the highest industry standards .”
End-to-end cloud solutions offer organisations a range of benefits to prepare for future growth, such as artificial intelligence capabilities to support all types of business innovation, machine learning (ML) functionalities to deliver actionable insights at greater speeds, edge computing to process data close to collection points; resource monitoring tools for identity and access management; advanced security tools and cybersecurity support to enable continuous real-time visibility and predictive protection.
“As well as providing peace of mind to organisations when hosting critical applications and classified data, industry verticals across the board were in a better position to boost their productivity and performance, especially during these challenging times,” Shazurawati noted.
Use case examples include the Ministry of Education’s adoption of α Edge to host its platform, enabling the simultaneous processing of a large number of queries (such as exam results) – 15.4 mil queries, with 8.3 mil queries during peak hours.
She also pointed to collaborations with top Malaysian banks to implement secured digital solutions and infrastructure to strengthen digital financial services and upscale digital banking.
Experian’s Luciano’s concluding comments included: “With the fourth industrial revolution ushering in a new era with artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), and more, businesses planning to shift to the cloud should also invest in reliable cloud computing security.”
“For businesses to protect themselves and their customers, it’s essential to continue investing in cybersecurity infrastructure and improving operational processes as a top priority for 2023. It’s an ongoing process, and we need to think of cybersecurity as a continuous journey rather than a trip with a destination.”