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What it takes for APAC firms to ride out the pandemic

Whether businesses will recover from the Covid-19 pandemic will depend on how they leverage technology to innovate, create new business models and build digital trust

Whether businesses will recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will depend on how they leverage technology to innovate, create new business models and automate processes while fostering a digital-first culture.

Those that succeed in doing so will be well poised for the future, but those that don’t would not survive the uncertainty, according to Amit Midha, president of Dell Technologies in Asia-Pacific and Japan, pointing to the K-shaped economic recovery that economists see happening.

“We can’t really separate technology from the economy any more,” Midha told Computer Weekly. “It’s so integral and critical to everything we do – in fact, the recovery depends on the use of technology. It doesn’t depend on just the money supply and the GDP growth rate any more.”

But despite the clarion call by governments and industry for businesses to embrace digital transformation, Midha said it was shocking that there are still companies that have not jumped on the bandwagon as they should.

Pointing to the four stages of organisational change management – denial, resistance, exploration and commitment – that companies go through, Midha said those that don’t move as fast in digital transformation may not have the talent and resources, or they may not understand technology, choosing to stick to traditional ways of doing things.

“But I would say that as the generational shift happens and as the pandemic has come about, it has led to significant acceleration in the mindset of people,” said Midha. “There is no alternative at the end of the day.”

The heightened efforts by forerunners in digital transformation amid the pandemic have led to a renewed focus on digital trust and cyber security, which are critical if businesses are to succeed in their digitisation initiatives, he said.

Midha said that while other cyber security suppliers layer their products on top of an organisation’s technology infrastructure, Dell is taking the opposite approach of building intrinsic security at all levels, from containers and virtual machines to the underlying infrastructure.

“In a sense, because only so many processes are allowed inside a container, if someone is coming in from outside to look for additional processes to run, that will not be allowed,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how many band aids you put on top of it, which makes it a much more interesting solution.”

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Dell’s focus on container security comes amid growing adoption of containerised applications, whose portability poses challenges to traditional perimeter-based security approaches. “If you’re going towards multicloud with an edge and core, and your application needs to run at any place in time, you require a different approach to security,” Midha added.

This approach will involve the use of identity management and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify security gaps, rather than adding another security product into the mix, he said. “If the patient is sick, and you keep adding more drugs without knowing how one drug works with another, why don’t we just fix the immune system? That is the approach we’re taking.”

During the third quarter of its 2021 fiscal year, Dell grew its revenue by 3% to rake in $23.5bn, driven by record revenues from its client solutions group, which supplies remote work technologies. The company does not break down its earnings by geographic regions, but the market opportunity in Asia-Pacific remains huge.

Citing the example of a firm whose infrastructure had not been able to keep up with the growing number of customer transactions, Midha said organisations across the region are grappling with new requirements, whether it is more frequent digital engagements or higher IOPS (input/output operations per second).

Meanwhile, firms in Japan have been speeding up their transformation efforts after lagging behind for years, and India has been a “big startup story but hasn’t been able to support what’s going on in the marketplace”, said Midha.

“That’s the opportunity – traditional companies are innovating and modernising their infrastructure and existing companies that are good in technology are also realising that their efforts and talent are not enough to meet new requirements from their customers,” he added.

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