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Digital transformation at tipping point in Singapore

Businesses in Singapore are fine-tuning their digital transformation efforts, with a third of them moving public cloud workloads to on-premise systems

Like many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Singapore, pork rib soup restaurant Koon Bak Kut Teh was facing a shortage of manpower and rising rental costs – a double-whammy that had taken a toll on its business.

The restaurant’s service staff found themselves taking on multiple roles, such as serving customers, collecting payments and taking orders, with handwritten order chits sometimes misplaced or misread by kitchen staff during peak periods.

More than two years ago, it decided to implement a tablet app that enabled service staff to take orders electronically, reducing errors in the kitchen and eliminating missing orders.

Over at Sushi Tei, a Japanese restaurant chain in Singapore, a cloud-based ordering system has enabled it to order eggs directly from suppliers, alleviating the need to process physical paperwork by automating the ordering process.

Koon Bak Kut Teh and Sushi Tei are just two out of a growing number of businesses in Singapore that are transforming themselves digitally to cope with business challenges.

Such efforts may well be reaching a tipping point, with 42% of businesses in Singapore and 46% across Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) now deriving more than half their revenue from digital technologies.

These findings were recently revealed by Pure Storage in an independent survey conducted by research company Evolution, which polled IT leaders from more than 9,000 businesses globally, including more than 3,000 organisations in APJ and 500 in Singapore.

Amid this digital gold rush, however, nearly 60% of businesses cited technical complexity as the biggest barrier to digital transformation, followed by the lack of digital skills (42%), according to the survey.

Businesses in Singapore also run 38% of their applications on-premises – higher than public cloud (25%), software as a service (24%) and private cloud (21%).

In addition, 32% of companies in Singapore that ran workloads in public cloud environments have moved some or all of those workloads back on-premise.

The trend of businesses moving back from public cloud to on-premise systems is not limited to Singapore. Nearly eight in 10 Vietnamese businesses have moved workloads from public cloud back on-premise, the highest in the region.

Read more about digital transformation in ASEAN

“The advantages once held by the public cloud are no longer its sole domain,” said Chua Hock Leng, managing director for Asean and Taiwan at Pure Storage.

“As Singapore continues to pursue its smart nation vision, businesses need to understand how to use the entire data ecosystem – cloud and on-premise – to put their data to work and mine insights to deliver customer results.”

In an interview with Computer Weekly, Sandeep Singh, director for product marketing at Pure Storage, said companies in the region are now using the tipping point in their digital transformation efforts to see how they can do even better.

To Ninja Van, a Singapore-based logistics company with operations across Southeast Asia, that also means keeping escalating cloud costs in check as its business grows.

Shaun Chong, Ninja Van’s CTO, said: “Some companies can spend half a million to a million dollars a month on cloud infrastructure, so we’re starting to see how we can support an on-premise infrastructure for our operational systems that currently rely on cloud infrastructure.”

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