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Gaps remain in the digital and data-driven strategies of Asean firms

The majority of Asean business leaders acknowledge they lack a complete digital strategy, despite most believing it is important to have an agile, data-driven business

Less than half (44%) of business leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) believe they have a complete digital strategy in place.

This is despite 91% believing it is important to have an agile business that is data-driven, according to findings from Microsoft’s Asia Data Culture Study 2016.

The confluence of cloud, mobility and data has resulted in demands that require businesses to transform into digital and data-driven enterprises, said Andreas Hartl, general manager, cloud and enterprise division, at Microsoft Asia-Pacific (Apac).

Organisations need to turn data into actionable insights and predict the future as a way to get ahead of the trends, develop revenue streams and to survive, he added.

Hartl said these organisations need to develop a data culture through using analytics, predictive data and the right that enables insights to come from anyone in the organisation, at anytime and anywhere.

To be an organisation with a data culture, there needs to be an infrastructure for data agility, strong data governance to allow employees to collaborate and the ability for employees to access and analyse data.

According to Microsoft’s study, Asean organisations see the benefits of driving a data culture as: efficiency in operations (86%), ability to make real-time decisions (85%), better business continuity (84%), improve processes (84%) and improve customer satisfaction and retention (77%).

The study questioned 269 business leaders from the Asean countries of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Despite the benefits of a data culture, the study found that barriers exist, which include: perceived high costs (52%), lack of digital skills among workforce (43%), fear of change (42%), data security (41%) and securing funding (38%).

Some 87% of business leaders in Asean feel that the data culture should be driven from the top, with a formalised role in the leadership team to drive the data strategy. Most felt that the data culture should be led by the CEO, followed by senior IT leadership and the CIO.

Read more about data strategies in Asean

“Starting with a pilot and learning from that is key to a successful, long-term journey. Organisations need to think about scenarios that will provide insights and opportunities,” said Hartl.

“They need to ask different questions about their business, not just based on hindsight but about the future. Technology has evolved so much that this is no longer science fiction, but is being done by some of our progressive customers today.”

Clifton Phua, director of analytics at NCS said: “Most Asean leaders recognise the value and support the use of advanced analytics.” However, most currently use technologies, such as business intelligence or advanced analytics, in a silo way, he added.

Phua said the challenges to drive data-driven decision making can be due to a variety of factors.

These include: the lack of significant IT investments resulting in the inability to effectively communicate, track or process data; the lack of people with the right skill-sets to manage data-driven systems; the lack of advanced analytics that scales appropriately with the organisation; and a lack of awareness of the emerging practices, their benefits and the need to appoint a team with the capability to address issues in change management. 

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