Advancing Your Data, Digitalization Strategy Through the Cloud

Deployed well, data can empower tactical initiatives, streamline operations, clarify strategies across the organization, and help meet the fluid expectations of customers. But breaking with the past and pivoting towards a data-driven future is often easier said than done.

What strategies and approaches have worked for Asia Pacific firms in their journey to successful digitalization and deriving more value from their data? At a virtual event with Snowflake and CDOTrends, participants discussed their data strategies, the impact of the ongoing pandemic on digitalization, and why the cloud is perfect for facilitating data-centric initiatives and capabilities.

The new face of data

According to Geoff Soon, managing director of South Asia at Snowflake, organizations in the Asia Pacific that understand the power of data are growing. Unfortunately, others remain locked in perpetual discussions to move ahead, but not making the move to embrace or integrate data. The result is a growing gulf between those that actively leverage data and those that do not.

The other major trend is a growing trend towards data sharing: “Given the impacts on the macroeconomy, organizations are now far more reliant on upstream and downstream providers; they are far more reliant on third-party data to run their businesses. Increasingly, almost every one of our conversations is about how we can help organizations share data in a way that is respectful of respective data legislations, within the bounds of customer expectations, but also allowing you to unlock new insights.”

Finally, businesses are leveraging curated and near real-time data to create much more customized experiences. Soon praised one of the telecommunication providers in Singapore for offering customer-centric mobile plans that are fully customizable. One benefit of bespoke offerings is the ability to gain granular insights into individual customers, he explained.

“These organizations now know what my previous choices have been. And they have started to leverage that in tailoring offers to me. I think that was quite an interesting piece of innovation from one of the Singapore-based telcos,” he said.

The power of the cloud

But how does the cloud figure in our bold data-centric world? One consideration is the massive talent challenge, and how the cloud alleviates the worst of it as far as IT infrastructure is concerned. “There is a massive talent challenge, and it is not just in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, or Indonesia – everyone is fighting for talent,” said Soon.

“I think part of the consideration is the fact that you can operate [cloud] platforms with very few infrastructure people. You still do need people that understand the domain, but by adopting software-as-a-service (SaaS) you can dramatically reduce the amount of manpower required.”

Randy Montesa, who heads the Land Bank of the Philippines, agreed and shared how his team spearheaded the implementation of two solutions based in the cloud. One of them, an agent banking solution, has been used to issue transaction accounts to more than a million unbanked Filipinos to date. “Obviously, this can only happen if our solution is running on the cloud. We have also recently launched our mobile wallet. Again, this runs on the cloud,” he said.

Fong Yin Gan, a senior manager looking after the architecture and technology innovation at Jabil Green Point highlighted some challenges around data governance and standardizing data architectures across various cloud platforms. However, Gan agreed that the cloud is the way forward: “We do recognize that [the cloud] is definitely one of the most important [areas] that we are working on.”

Make the move today

If there is one trend that Soon noticed over the last 12 months, it would be how buy-in at the executive leadership level is a crucial determinant between organizations that thrive or struggle with data. And while the data journey in the cloud might appear daunting at first blush, a strong organizational culture or a strong push from top executives can impart considerable momentum to bring projects to fruition within a much shorter timeframe.

“There is this massive flywheel effect that I've seen in some of our customers where the entire organization gets behind the data transformation or digital transformation initiative. What was perceived to be a five-year project sometimes gets compressed into a much shorter time frame.”

“This is what I hear from our customers: The more people you get on board, the shorter these timeframes for success are. This is probably the one insight that pleasantly surprised me. Sometimes when people can see the value, and they feel that they are part of the journey, it tends to get rolled out much quicker than previously expected,” Soon summed up.

Paul Mah is the editor of DSAITrends. A former system administrator, programmer, and IT lecturer, he enjoys writing both code and prose. You can reach him at [email protected].​

Image credit: iStockphoto/vovik_mar