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Asean businesses fall behind in cloud business agility

Businesses in Asean countries are slower to harness cloud computing than in other regions – but could overtake them, with much less legacy IT to deal with

Asian organisations show strong signs of agility in terms of technology adoption, but those in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries are slower to harness cloud computing, according to research.

Despite lagging behind, Asean organisations are ina position to leapfrog their Asian neighbours because they do not have the same levels of legacy systems to deal with.

Respondents in the Oracle Cloud Agility study are clear about the benefits of using technology to achieve business agility. The study surveyed 759 employees working for large enterprises in the Asia-Pacific (Apac) region to understand business agility in the age of cloud.

Some 85% said the ability to rapidly develop, test and launch business applications is either important or critically important to the success of their business. Nearly a third of respondents (29%) believe the effective mobilisation of applications and services is the most important factor for business success today when it comes to IT infrastructure.

A significant number demonstrate agility, with 52% of respondents businesses saying they had an IT infrastructure capable of responding to competitive threats. In addition, 60% of respondents said they could develop, test, and deploy business applications for use on mobile devices in six months – and nearly half (46%) felt that they could achieve this in one month.

However, the study revealed that businesses are less aware of how technology such as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) can address business challenges. These challenges include flexibly managing workloads or rapidly developing new applications.

“Businesses clearly know agility holds the key to their success, but there is an awareness gap around exactly how this agility can be realised through the right technology investments,” said Robert Shimp, group vice-president Asia at Oracle.

The study found agility had a strong impact on business competitiveness. For instance, the ability of competitors to launch customer services more rapidly was identified as the top threat by 29% of the respondents.

“The speed with which many Asian countries are adapting to digital technologies like mobile is clearly acknowledged… [However,] what this research shows is that many companies are not yet harnessing the power of PaaS solutions to further boost agility levels, and so stay ahead of the digital curve,” said Chris Chelliah, chief architect, core technology and cloud, Apac at Oracle.

Most Asean countries are still behind other Apac countries average in terms of adopting cloud technologies, said Naveen Chhabra, senior analyst, Forrester.

Read more about Asean cloud adoption

While developed economies such as Singapore are emulating the rapid take-up of other Asian nations, many other Asean organsiations are taking longer.

South-east Asian finance companies are adopting cloud technology with more caution than in other regions of the world.

Alibaba's cloud computing arm is opening a datacentre in Singapore, which is good news for Asean businesses looking for more cloud options.

“In terms of cloud adoption, Asean countries fall behind Australia, China, Japan and India, due to factors such as network connectivity, services availability in the local market, business and customer maturity,” said Chhabra.

However local services providers in Asean countries are introducing services for local consumption and are bringing new cloud services in their geography,” said Chhabra. “Asean countries can leapfrog using cloud services since they have less legacy technology to content with, compared to other countries in Asia,” said Chhabra.

Steve Bingham, Advisory Leader at Ernst & Young Solutions’ Asia-Pacific, said Asean businesses are still developing their understanding and adoption of cloud computing to boost business agility.

“Many businesses recognise the benefits of cloud, including greater flexibility, performance and cost savings – but need further investment before they can use cloud services effectively.”

He said some businesses have started using a hybrid approach and experimenting with cloud offerings in their existing environments. This is occurring in the areas of “systems of engagement” such as online and CRM systems, rather than core system information, he said.

Bingham said Asean businesses need to shift their focus toward building a secure cloud environment.

“A secure cloud environment has the appropriate controls to protect the confidentiality, availability and integrity of the systems and data that resides in the cloud.”

He said an audit-ready cloud environment, which has continuous compliance and is certified to meet specific industry regulations and legislation, is essential.  “Appropriate procedural and technical protection is in place, documented and can be verified for compliance purposes.”

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