This article is part of our Essential Guide: Essential Guide: How APAC firms can ride out the pandemic

APAC remains hotbed for digital transformation

Nearly half of organisations in the Asia-Pacific region see digital transformation as their top priority, followed by cloud infrastructure deployment and artificial intelligence, survey finds

The Asia-Pacific (APAC) region remains a hotbed for digital transformation initiatives amid the economic uncertainty and ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

According to the 2020 TechTarget/Computer Weekly IT Priorities survey, 43% of nearly 600 respondents in APAC cited digital transformation as their top priority, followed by cloud infrastructure deployment (38%) and artificial intelligence (37%).

This was despite the slower growth in IT spending. This year, 62% of respondents expect their IT budgets to increase, down from 77% in 2019. The proportion of respondents with budget cuts has also increased from 7% last year to 9% in 2020.

When it comes to digital transformation initiatives, APAC organisations are focused on those that improve employee experience and productivity (44%), automation (43%) and cloud services (41%), areas that are crucial to retain talent in a tight IT labour market while paving the way for a modern IT infrastructure.

These initiatives come at a time when 73% of APAC organisations are still in the early to mid-stage of digital transformation. In the early stage, organisations are typically assessing business and technology needs, with formal projects expected to kick off within 12 months, while those in the mid-stage have already implemented transformation initiatives.

In the datacentre, 36% will look towards multi and hybrid cloud while 35% will invest more in on-premise infrastructure. These top datacentre priorities are testament to the growing acceptance of hybrid IT across the region as the deployment model of choice.

But when it comes to storage, the cloud still rules. Nearly half of all respondents expect to buy more cloud storage this year, while just 12% plan on investing more in on-premise flash arrays. More respondents are also including hyperconverged infrastructure (27%) as part of their storage strategies.

APAC’s mobile workforce has not led to a corresponding increase in investments in endpoint management tools. Over 40% of respondents are keen on mobile device management (MDM) tools, pointing to the growing footprint of enterprise mobility deployments in the region that require better management tools.

These MDM investments are being complemented by security-related initiatives. Over half are planning to roll out identity management, single sign-on and multi-factor authentication tools, while a whopping 63% are doubling up on their governance, risk and compliance efforts. User security training is also at the top of the agenda in a bid to minimise security breaches arising from human error.

Additionally, vulnerability management (42%) remains a key priority, suggesting that APAC firms are still struggling with plugging the loopholes in their systems. About the same proportion of respondents also plan to spend more on data loss prevention technologies to mitigate any data exfiltration risks.

As for business applications, digital experience management figures highly in investment plans, followed by customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning (ERP), the latter possibly spurred by the nearing end-of-life date for SAP ECC6.

Alongside new investments in business applications are in-house software development efforts which respondents are now driving relentlessly. According to the study, 46% of respondents plan to adopt agile development and 40% plan to embrace DevOps, up from 20% and 27% respectively.

These efforts are being channelled into IoT (internet of things) applications (31%) and microservices (30%), as well as application modernisation (36%) where legacy applications are being refactored to run on modern cloud-based infrastructure.

As the backbone of an organisation’s IT infrastructure, the network has been a key focal point for digital transformation in APAC. More budget is being pumped into software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) by 47% of respondents in line with growing cloud investments, followed by network virtualisation (25%).

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