Dealing with disruption


27 May 2015
Chia Wee Boon of NCS

Customer retention, innovation and cost management have emerged as the top three drivers for digital transformation as businesses look to stay on top of the disruptive forces that are challenging the status quo.

Presenting the findings of the latest NCS SURF (Solutions for Urbanised Future) Emerging Technologies Maturity study, Chia Wee Boon, chief executive officer of NCS, noted that 77 per cent of respondents placed high importance on digital transformation and viewed it as a vital part of their business growth strategy.

This year’s study also pointed to a more mature digital transformation environment with growing senior management support for technology-led business transformation initiatives (58 per cent, compared with 53 per cent in 2014). “The emphasis is on building sustainable business models by leveraging technology to drive top-line growth,” said Chia, who was speaking at the recent NCS TechConnect 2015 event.

The survey, which was conducted by IDC Asia Pacific, covered over 200 companies and government agencies in Singapore.

Mayur Sahni, senior research manager, IT Services, BPO and Cloud Services, IDC, described digital transformation as the integration of existing resources with online resources from the IT perspective and getting them to work together to do three things – enhance business operations, improve customer service and compete better in the market.

According to the NCS SURF Emerging Technologies Maturity study, the top factor motivating businesses to look at digital transformation was customer retention (22.3 percent). Second was the need to drive innovation (18.6 per cent), which moved up from fifth place in the 2014 survey.  As Mayur pointed out, “To retain customer you need innovation.” The third driver was the need to manage the cost of operations (15 per cent), which was an important factor in helping businesses to stay competitive.

These are important business imperatives in the face of a shift in economics. There is disruption created by new players coming out into the market today, that did not exist before, said Mayur. Alipay, for example, emerged out of online retailer Alibaba, and Amazon, which started out as an online book store, has gone into IT in a big way with Amazon Web Services.

Large enterprises see this disruption coming, and know they have to change fast in order to retain their customers. “Today, if I am a bank customer, or I need to get hold of a mover and packer, I want to work with the guy I can find on my mobile device,” said Mayur.

Mobility was one of the key technology areas covered in the survey, alongside big data analytics and cloud. Nearly 60 per cent of businesses surveyed said they invested in mobility, with 36 per cent of these leveraging it for employee enablement in the field to hance customer delivery. Slightly over half (51 per cent) invested in cloud, and close of half of these were looking to the cloud to access new capabilities for competitive advantage. About 38 per cent invested in big data analytics and of these, 42 per cent were looking to drive specific business objectives for individual lines of businesses, focusing mainly on improving operations and the customer experience.