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Enterprises across Asia-Pacific (APAC) are doubling down on their digital transformation efforts, primarily to improve employee productivity, streamline operations and improve customer experience.
Those were the top three drivers of digital transformation in the region, propelling enterprises to spend more to refresh their on-premise infrastructure, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to shore up productivity, according to the latest Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities survey.
According to the study, 42% of nearly 1,000 IT decision makers in APAC revealed that they are looking to upgrade their IT infrastructure to support digital transformation initiatives, while 35% expect to harness technologies that improve employee experience and productivity.
The topline findings of the study indicate that digital transformation is well underway among APAC enterprises, which are being charged with doing more with less, especially in mature markets like Japan, Singapore and Australia, where talent is in short supply.
The good news is, APAC enterprises are not being squeezed as far as IT budgets are concerned. Nearly eight in 10 respondents in the survey expect fatter budgets, with 44% bullish on cloud services and security/risk management this year.
Spending on software, as well as backup and disaster recovery, is slated to grow, as cited by 38% and 29% of respondents, respectively. These priorities reflect the growing focus on software-led innovation, along with need to fend off growing cyber threats while ensuring applications and services are available at all times.
Not surprisingly, 43% of respondents expect to spend less on manpower, suggesting a leaner IT workforce is on the cards, while 30% expect smaller budgets for on-premise servers and maintenance/support services. These underscore the shift in budgets towards IT automation (39%) and cloud infrastructure services (29%).
The move to cloud does not mean APAC enterprises are doing away with on-premise infrastructure completely. Going by the results of the survey, the hybrid IT outlook is here to stay, with an equal number of respondents (39%) indicating their use of standalone x86 servers alongside infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings.
The x86 servers may well take the form of hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) appliances, which 78% expect to spend more on this year. Just 35% expect to buy more standalone x86 servers, according to the survey.
In the networking trenches, spending on software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) and WAN acceleration will see an uptick, driven by greater use of public cloud infrastructure and application services in the region.
The corresponding growth in demand for networking resources will also spur higher spending on network monitoring and management, as cited by 34% of respondents.
Notably, nearly a third of respondents are laying the groundwork for the internet of things, one of the top 10 IT projects they expect to work on in 2019.
On the primary storage front, enterprises will be more focused on storage virtualisation (22%) and storage area networks (24%) in an effort to ensure their storage infrastructure can scale with the growth of their business.
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Meanwhile, the heightened focus on data protection across APAC has led more organisations to consider data protection and backup services, propelling cloud backup-as-a-service to the top of this year’s list of top secondary storage initiatives.
And to keep their data safe from prying eyes, respondents have prioritised data loss prevention capabilities (26%) as well as email security (29%) to counter the increasing number of phishing attacks.
Digital transformation initiatives often require businesses to relook or redesign existing operational processes, and that could mean upgrading enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications to tap new capabilities.
According to the study, nearly half (49%) of respondents plan to implement or upgrade their ERP systems, followed by finance/accounting and customer relationship management (36%).
To make sense of all the data they are collecting and generating from these systems, enterprises are also investing in big data platforms (38%), as well as data integration (36%) and data visualisation (33%) capabilities, paving the way for AI initiatives in time to come.