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Top IT predictions in APAC in 2020

The rise of super apps, Wi-Fi 6 enabled services and cross-functional platform engineering teams are likely to dominate the Asia-Pacific IT landscape in 2020

The adoption of new technologies in the Asia-Pacific used to be years behind that of US and Europe, but not anymore.

Buoyed by a fast-growing economy and a tech-savvy population, the Asia-Pacific region has become a cradle for technology innovation, whether it is mobile payments, 5G or robotic process automation (RPA).

Going by the IT predictions fleshed out by suppliers and analysts in recent weeks, organisations in the region will continue to be among the world’s keenest technology adopters. In this round-up, we review some of the key IT trends that are likely to shape the industry in 2020.

Despite the fanfare, the introduction of Wi-Fi 6 this year was met with cautious optimism, with sceptics citing that the increased bandwidth enabled by Wi-Fi 6, though impressive, will not necessarily be put to use very soon.

As a result of continued Wi-Fi 6 innovation, Aruba predicts that 2020 will usher in a new swathe of Wi-Fi 6-enabed services that will deliver the performance, availability and quality-of-service (QoS) that is promised by technologies such as 5G. Wi-Fi 6 will be the preferred on-ramp to 5G for the majority of enterprise edge applications.

2020 will see more data breaches in anticipation for quantum computing becoming cheaper and more affordable down the road, according to Rana Gupta, Asia-Pacific vice-president for cloud protection and licensing activity at Thales.

With potential breakthroughs like Google’s this year, Gupta noted that it is only a matter of time before more quantum computing power is achieved. When this happens, the encryption techniques used to sign messages and protect encryption keys will be rendered obsolete.

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In anticipation of that, next year will see an increase in the encrypted communications and encrypted data stolen by hackers as they stockpile information waiting for the tools to unlock it. So, in effect, quantum breaches will have already happened, long before the computing power comes to fruition.

The later part of this decade saw the arrival of financial technology (fintech) startups sprouting just about everywhere. For a long while, many financial institutions looked upon fintechs as unwelcome disruptors, putting them on the defensive.

“Today, most companies have pivoted to more engaged and proactive collaboration, recognising that by working together, both sides will eventually benefit and deliver solutions that match consumer demand,” said Ben Elliott, CEO of Experian Asia-Pacific.

Elliott said in 2020 that financial institutions and fintech startups will try to take this collaboration to the next level. However, significant challenges remain, ranging from demonstrating the value proposition of a proposal to overcoming organisational constraints.

“To advance collaboration, financial institutions and fintechs need to be more open-minded, tolerant and accommodating to facilitate rather than hamper innovation and transformation. How both sides go about it will be the question of the day. In the end, it’s all about consumer. And when fintechs and traditional financial institutions collaborate, consumers win.”

Near elimination of paper amid RPA adoption

Cloud-native and web-based RPA platforms will come to the forefront in the new year, according to Adrian Jones, executive vice-president, Automation Anywhere.

Use cases of RPA will eventually move towards easy-to-deploy-and-teach artificial intelligence (AI) models for a large majority of paper documents in the enterprise.

“More new industries will discover and adopt RPA – this growth will span both horizontal and vertical adoption,” said Jones. “We will also see this extend to mid-market and SMB segments, paving the way for ubiquity.”

Jones noted that Asia-Pacific businesses are going past the adoption stage and are increasingly moving into the implementation of digital workers – specialised bots with skills that complement human worker’s responsibilities.

“Growth in integration with third-party cloud AI services by enterprises will encourage digital worker implementations, which can then help with creating end-to-end automation workflows through pairings to chatbots and other triggering mechanisms.”

Super apps will catch fire in Southeast Asia

In 2020, the “super app” trend that dominates mobile commerce and communications in China will reach critical mass among consumers in Southeast Asia, according to Deepak Seth, vice-president of product strategy at SAP Concur Asia-Pacific.

For one, Singapore’s Grab offers transportation, food, payment, movie tickets and more, in eight countries. Gojek, started as a ride-hailing call centre in Indonesia, offering more than 20 services in four countries.

“In Asia, it’s becoming easier to use super apps than apply for and use credit cards. That means any supplier that wants to create seamless experiences for mobile customers – and especially providers of transportation, dining, and travel – needs to keep a close eye on this trend.”

Rise of cross-functional platform teams

2020 will see infrastructure teams re-organising into cross-functional platform engineering teams offering internal and external cloud services “as a service”, according to Shaun Norris, field chief technology officer at Pivotal Asia-Pacific and Japan.

The move is expected to help product engineering teams build digital experiences for customers in a shorter time frame.

“When those applications are built with cloud-native architecture principles at their core, antique concepts like scheduled maintenance and batch processing are quickly replaced by ‘always on’ and ‘real-time event driven’ systems,” said Norris.

In addition, Norris expects to see a continued trend towards microservices, along with Kubernetes.

Although the container orchestration platform promises a consistent “dial tone” for cloud-native infrastructure across public and private clouds, it is only beginning to be understood in the market, said Norris. “As this ecosystem grows, we expect it to become a widespread deployment standard.”

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