By Josep Garcia
Recent global events have caused organisations to rethink the way they operate to address new customer expectations.
Case in point: 95% of executives in Asia-Pacific (APAC) said digital transformation has gained importance over the past 18 months, according to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) report commissioned by Red Hat titled “Understanding APAC’s Success in Digital Transformation”.
For digital transformation projects to succeed, it needs to be supported by both cultural change and technology modernisation.
In the past, it would be common for ideation and decision making to be done mostly by senior leaders.
However, the speed at which businesses need to innovate today requires organisations to empower individuals at all levels to be change agents.
This calls for an open culture that values inclusivity, adaptability, transparency, community, and collaboration.
With all these traits, organizations can enable transparent and free exchange of information for collaborative decision making, which may help them become more agile in an ever-changing business environment.
APAC organisations that have modernised their IT infrastructure and application architecture to support cultural change have been able to quickly develop and deliver new applications, and respond rapidly to customer demands, according to the HBR report.
This is exemplified by Red Hat Innovation Awards 2020 winner AmBank. After learning how to adopt DevOps and agile development processes through a five-week Red Hat Open Innovation Labs program, the Malaysian financial services group created standard operating procedures to manage upcoming agile application projects.
By readily embracing a culture of collaboration, defects, mismanagements, and coding defects are greatly reduced, ultimately improving its speed-to-market and overall business agility.
Transformation should start at the core
Transformation does not necessarily require a complete overhaul of existing systems. Instead of replacing legacy IT wholesale in favor of public cloud, organizations should transform their IT infrastructure to take advantage of what they already have, while using cloud-native assets.
This means building on top of existing systems or enhancing them with new technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to modernise legacy IT.
Companies in APAC are keen to take this approach, as indicated by findings from the HBR report. They plan to invest 8% more on cloud-based business applications and increase their spending on business process automation tools by 6% over the next 12 to 18 months.
One reason for automation’s increased popularity is its ability to help organisations transit to the work-from-home model.
Many tech teams have used automation tools to scale up capacity and install VPN clients across millions of devices for the global remote workforce in a short period of time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Besides that, automation can help speed up the triage of security attacks as more cyber attackers attempt to exploit the explosion of people and organizations going online.
Some APAC companies intend to take automation a step further by considering to use AI to gain better decision-making capability and speed up time-to-market.
As organizations use both modernised legacy systems and cloud-native apps to power the business, they might run the risk of fragmentation or silos, which may prevent companies from reaping the full benefits of their digital transformation efforts.
They can overcome this by embracing a hybrid cloud that lies on a foundation of open standards. With an open hybrid cloud as their IT backbone, organizations can move workloads and data to anywhere they are needed more easily, enabling them to adapt to changes more flexibly and rapidly.
APAC organisations are recognising this need, with 56% of them intending to use enterprise open source tools to manage their cloud better, according to The State of Enterprise Open Source: A Red Hat Report in 2020.
71% of the respondents are also planning to adopt more enterprise open source solutions over the next 12 months, especially for IT infrastructure modernisation, application development, and DevOps.
DBS Bank, for example, transited towards a cloud-ready technology architecture by modernising its applications using open source solutions.
Prepared for uncertainties
With disruptions and uncertainties set to continue in years ahead, an organisation’s survival can no longer depend on its short-term plans.
APAC businesses have to be configured for change. Rather than taking a rip-and-replace approach to achieve that, organisations should instead embrace an open hybrid cloud so that they can adapt their traditional IT environments to cloud-native applications and infrastructure.
Combining that with an open culture will put organisations in a better position to develop innovations to respond to changing conditions or even pivot their business model in a timely manner.
Josep Garcia, Vice President & General Manager, Asian Growth & Emerging Markets (GEMs) at Red Hat Asia-Pacific.