Digital transformation trends and hard lessons that Singapore enterprises need
to know to overcome the challenges in 2019.

18 December 2018

By now, most enterprises have found that transformation is a necessary step forward in an era of disruption. Many have not just planned to go digital but have embarked on multi-year journeys on a new path.

The worldwide spending on the technologies and services that enable the digital transformation of business practices, products, and organisations is forecasted to reach US$1.97 trillion in 2022, according to research firm IDC.

Separately, the World Economic Forum predicts that the overall economic contribution of digital transformation to industry and society could be as high as $100 trillion by 2025.

With the new year coming fast, what should technology and business leaders in large enterprises be looking at in the next 12 months? Here are key trends that look set to accelerate.

5G on the move

2019 will see the first “truly” 5G mobile services launched commercially, along with handsets and other smart devices linked to the new network. This will not only provide lower latency, leading to new applications like remotely controlled machinery, but also uses that many enterprises are still discovering.

In late 2018, there have been launches and trials of fixed 5G services, and also truly revolutionary change will come in 2019 when 5G offers gigabit speeds and low latency on the move. This will help transform enterprises seeking a fast, wireless and ubiquitous link to their employees, vehicles, sensors and all manners of connected devices.

Multiple clouds working together

If 2018 was a big year for companies moving onto the public cloud to tap its scale, elasticity and security, then 2019 will likely see a combination of many different clouds working together.

Whether this is a multi-vendor combination or one involving public, private and hybrid clouds, enterprises are increasingly looking to connect them all together. After all, the data needs to flow seamlessly in an integrated operation, no matter the platform it is on. 

Machine learning and AI accelerate data analytics

The push towards data analytics has encouraged enterprises to collect and store large amounts of data in the past decade. However, much of this is untapped or unaccounted for. What might change this is machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

As they become more sophisticated, the technologies would be able to assist human operators in sorting out and generally making sense of the oceans of data out there. Yes, data is needed for AI but the opposite is true too. AI helps enterprises make better use of their data. 

The edge becomes more important

So much data is on the cloud today but not all of it is accessible in an instant. With enterprises seeking to deliver real-time insights, the speed with which data can be accessed will be critical. This means the edge computing which pushes applications, data and computing power away from core to the extreme end of the network will become increasingly important.

Here is where the most important data can be tapped on quickly, whether the application is an autonomous car or any other number-crunching app making decisions on the fly. In 2019, enterprises will seek to move more data onto the edge network, improving their local data performance for a real-time advantage over rivals. 

More IT services as a service

Pay-as-you-use has been a model for some time now but in 2019, the adoption of such consumption-based services will accelerate for enterprises that are seeking to move fast in a digital world.

From customer service management (CRM) to enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprises will leverage the cloud connections they have recently created to pick and choose IT services from an a la carte menu instead of buying large bundled packages binding them to a platform for years.

Learnings from the past 12 months

While looking ahead, it is important to remember lessons that 2018 brought as well. In their transformation efforts, many enterprises encounters obstacles and challenges that provide valuable learning points.

One is the importance of educating employees and equipping them with the skills required. A bank branch manager may one day be able to call on data easily to run his own local campaigns and customise products for his community but he first needs to know how to use the tools.

As with any new technology, a transformation cannot happen if there is no buy-in from users. Key to adoption is communicating the importance that change brings.

Here, the management of a company, including the CEO, has to lead the charge. Schemes to incentivise staff to experiment and create their own apps, for example, will bring much-needed empowerment.

They also need to be mindful of the headwinds that come their way. As the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicked in in 2018, many enterprises scrambled to ensure that their handling of customer data was above board.

In a way, that made it tougher to move data freely, potentially hampering transformation. On the flip side, the regulations made many cloud providers become stricter with data, which is a good thing for enterprises seeking to use these services in their transformation.

There is no doubt that 2019 is set to be another big year for enterprises going digital. With technologies maturing and lessons learnt, many more will be making bigger leaps forward, on to a new stepping stone to the future.

If you would like to discuss on how StarHub can support your digital transformation journey, click here

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