Telum Talks To… Sandra Ng, Group Vice President and General Manager, IDC Research Asia/Pacific and Japan

Telum Talks To… Sandra Ng, Group Vice President and General Manager, IDC Research Asia/Pacific and Japan

Telum caught up with Sandra Ng from IDC to find out why digital transformation (DX) is important, how comms team could benefit from it, and to hear about the upcoming Future Enterprise Awards.

You've been with IDC since 1996, how do you think the digital sphere has evolved so far? What's the next big thing?
During the late 2000s, we saw the emergence of major third platform technologies such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, social media, mobile computing, and the internet of things (IoT). Over the years, these capabilities have evolved exponentially.

At present, forward-thinking organisations are embedding digital transformation in all aspects of their business - from revamping their working environments to bringing innovative offerings to their customers. And in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, today’s priority is digital resiliency or the ability to adapt to business disruptions by leveraging on digital capabilities, to both restore business operations and capitalise on the changed conditions.

Looking ahead, products, services and experiences will become more autonomous, intelligent and personalised. IDC predicts that 80% of Asia Pacific organisations will prioritise investments in digital tools to augment physical spaces and assets with digital experiences by next year as they accelerate their journeys to becoming a Future Enterprise.

Before a company decides to transform digitally, what is the first important step to note?
Before embarking on a digital transformation journey, organisations should first show empathy to their employees. As noted by IDC’s CEO interview series, this can be broken down into four main components: creating a balance between productivity and employee well-being, cultivating a cohesive corporate culture, establishing a broader sense of purpose and community, and addressing the growing digital skills gap. Once these steps have been accomplished, it would be easier to achieve digital resiliency which is necessary to navigate a complex and dynamic landscape.

How do you think a communications team could benefit from digital transformation?
Digital has become a permanent, yet dynamic fixture in today’s environment. In the business context, partners, customers, and employees are increasingly demanding for digital-based capabilities and enhancements that could improve their lives and help them attain their desired outcomes.

In a digital-first world, communications teams should extend beyond traditional responsibilities such as creating, managing and delivering their messages to both their internal and external stakeholders. As some have demonstrated, those who heavily leveraged technology like social listening, content marketing automation, media monitoring and analysis have become even more ardent customer champions, capability builders, and innovation catalysts. These are pioneers who have not only survived the challenges but thrived even more while amplifying at scale their brand’s reach through technology.

To this end, communications teams would play an even more critical role in driving business growth. Through emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data analytics, and big data, they would be able to identify and seize opportunities, gain insights at scale, optimise engagements, and distinguish products and services from competitors.

Do you think developing markets in Southeast Asia are ready for digital transformation? What is the biggest challenge?
The COVID-19 pandemic heavily influenced the digital-first strategies of organisations. Asia Pacific led the shift with 28% of organisations in 2021 already in the most advanced stages of digital transformation maturity, up from 18% pre-COVID in 2019.

As for Southeast Asia, it is transitioning from being a responder to a pioneer. In fact, 54% of Southeast Asian organisations have stated that disruptions highlighted the need to rapidly execute and extend their existing digital-first initiatives and roadmaps.

The lack of resources, prioritisation of short-term actions vs. long-term investments, and inability to attract and retain key talent, among others, have hampered their progress. To combat these obstacles, they are looking to build strategic partnerships with technology vendors, such as public cloud and IT infrastructure providers, to expand their ecosystems and prepare their businesses for uncertainties.

In this regard, IDC through the Future Enterprise Awards, which is now in its sixth year, continues to recognise successful organisations and leaders that are bridging the digital gap and bringing their businesses into a digital-first future. It awards the standouts who are setting the benchmark in around nine digital agenda, namely: Connectedness, Customer Experience, Digital Infrastructure, Digital Innovation, Industry Ecosystems, Intelligence, Operations, Trust, and Work.

I am happy to share that the response to our call for nominations has so far been very overwhelming - proof that future-forward organisations, including in Asia Pacific, are serious about leveraging technologies to usher in a digital-first world. Nominations will be open until the end of June and winners announced in October 2022.

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