The Journey Towards Becoming Digitally Native Starts with a Single Step

There’s a lot of discussion about companies becoming digital as they’re looking to adopt digital technologies. However, many organisations are at the crossroads of their digital transformation journeys where they have difficulty imagining what the new digital future could be as they are faced with the challenging task of charting long-term business plans. According to IDC, the top three digital transformation (DX) challenges faced by organisations today are as follows:

  • 78% of organisations see lack of executive commitment and limited organisational capabilities to accelerate DX
  • 70% adopt the centre of excellence model for innovation, where the focus is on ideation, rapid prototyping and market testing
  • 67% of organisations use lagging and/or traditional indicators to measure DX success

Growing organisations are becoming more aware that they need to strive to become "digitally native", yet many lack the know-how and are overwhelmed by digital disruption, which is becoming increasingly common across all business sectors. While 65% of organisations have a DX strategy, only 9% have an effective organisational model in place. Speaking at a joint media roundtable event in KL hosted by Sage Asia, IDC Research Director, Pranabesh Nath highlighted the fact that in order to become digitally native, organisations need to be digitally immersed.

IDC defines a digitally native enterprise (DNE) as one that is “able to scale its operations and innovate at a pace that is an order of magnitude greater than traditional businesses. It is driven by a customer-centric and empowered workforce that embraces risk-taking as it seeks to continuously innovate. Technology and data are its lifeblood, fuelling more efficient operations, new revenue streams and customer loyalty.”

The majority of today’s DX initiatives are built on 3rd platform technologies, which consist of emerging technologies such as next-gen security, AR/VR, the IoT, AI, robotics and 3D printing. Based on IDC research, almost 100% of IT spending growth and more than 60% of enterprise IT budgets in 2017 was fuelled by 3rd platform technologies and solutions, and the figure is set to rise to 80% by 2020. Pranabesh said, “As more and more companies become digitally enabled or start to use digital products and services, you’ll find other companies will have to follow, and there won’t be any other choice. From an SME point of view, they will have to start to look at how they can adopt some of these technologies.”

Therefore, it is imperative for businesses today to understand digital disruption. “They need to look at the environment and see who are the other competitors. It’s very easy to get disrupted these days. They need to look at the customer journey, including the organisational models that they have. They also need to understand what are the use cases [of the technologies] in order to really understand the application of technology in their business. And finally, they need to understand where is their digital maturity compared to the rest of the industry,” Pranabesh explained.

That’s where companies like Sage come in to help local businesses in the region, especially SMEs to adopt technology and successfully transform into “digital natives”. One of the company’s main missions, according to Robin Chao, Sage Asia’s Vice President, has been to allow every business leader to chase their business dreams and leave the technology part to experts like Sage. But Robin pointed out that it’s not just about technology adoptions. One of the biggest assets in almost every organisation is its human capital, Sage’s objective is to “integrate these [resources] together to make sure that that is in tandem to the success of the business,” he said.

Sage advice (no pun intended) is clearly required because traditionally run companies in the region still need more help in utilising their digital transformation journey. A survey conducted by the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers & Malaysian Institute of Economic Research, for example, found that only a small fraction of Malaysian companies in the manufacturing sector are aware of the Industry 4.0 wave. Meanwhile, a large majority of Malaysian SMEs are only selling locally, with many local businesses not clear about what they can potentially achieve through technology.

Sage’s objective is to help local businesses by:

  • Creating an environment where businesses of all sizes can survive and thrive
  • Amplifying their voice within their industry and with key shareholders
  • Creating products that help them manage everything from money to people
  • Helping them to navigate the changing business landscape
  • Helping them to stay compliant

Robin’s advice for businesses, SMEs and manufacturers that are just starting out on their digital journey or are feeling overwhelmed or hesitant is for them to start small and grow from there. “Don’t ask too much. Do what is enough for you. You will not know now because you have not experienced it. Get a feel of it, then you’ll have a different set of aspiration or requirements. By then you will know which are the pockets of application that gives you that “next level”. It all depends on very individualistic environments. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s really about what would be your priority and that’s really important.”

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