Making fading businesses great again in next wave of app-centric growth

Digital disruption of existing industries and the rise of new businesses look set to continue unabated in 2017, fueled by advances in connectivity, automation and artificial intelligence. In the manufacturing sector, for instance, 3D printers are fast becoming the factories of the future, their ambitions amply driven by the growing influence of the on-demand, sharing economy. Today, any designer or engineer can upload designs, get quotes, select the nearest 3D printing service, choose a material and place an order within minutes, then receive the order within 24 hours.

Such cloud-enabled business models have spawned entire ecosystems of innovative upstarts that extend beyond the Uber’s and AirBnB’s to the healthcare, real estate, finance, and countless other commonly used services. These ecosystems present abundant opportunities for your companies to leverage new capabilities for growth or to supplant old ways of doing business with the new.

In Singapore, one of the top five countries for IoT penetration in Asia Pacific with 6.6 units per capita according to IDC, the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is eyeing the transformative potential of digitalization for innovation, growth and global reach to benefit even the smallest companies. Like in many countries around the world, Singapore’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are a core pillar of Singapore’s economy. The CFE aims to help SMEs – which contribute about half of GDP and two-thirds of employment – build strong capabilities in digital technologies, in particular data analytics and cybersecurity.

But regardless of whether your business is a start-up, an SME or an early-stage large enterprise, it needs access to important support systems such as regulatory guidance; financing availability; technical and infrastructural support; training facilities; and research and incubation facilities. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), for instance, is supporting the CFE recommendations by strengthening and tailoring financing channels for next-generation growth companies; building technology infrastructure to boost market efficiency; and extending Singapore’s connectivity with the region, while ensuring prudent risk management.

Cents and sensibility

To this end, after years of playing a cost-center supporting role to lines of business, the time is ripe for your IT organization to play a revenue-center role in shaping and influencing business strategies.

“There is strong appetite everywhere for adding tech-savvy directors to established company boards”, according to insights from EY. Individuals with the expertise to guide cyber strategy, major technology investments and risk mitigation add to the board’s skill set in efforts to reinvent business and enable long-term survival.

CIOs globally are already helping to reinvent their organizations’ processes and systems and playing a more central role in the boardroom, according to a BT survey last year. But as an IT leader, your immediate challenge is to be freed from the demands of maintaining current IT systems to focus on developing creative business solutions. Then, you can be the effective IT leader who alerts chief executives to any potential obsolescence and inspire them with a clear transformation vision.

As a digital strategist, you can help line-of-business colleagues make sense of disruptive technologies and emerging service delivery models; articulate an innovative yet viable business strategy; and set the right priorities. Competitive advantage in the digital economy now hinges on the ability to use data productively and collaboratively in dynamic ecosystems, and fulfill users’ demand for immediate, uninterrupted and secure access to the applications they need when they need them. It calls for IT leaders with multidisciplinary skills, intimate knowledge of business objectives and pain points, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

“Applications are becoming central to Asia Pacific’s business strategies as the on-demand economy increasingly calls for speed and efficiency,” says Emmanuel Bonnassie, senior vice president of Asia Pacific at F5 Networks, which has revealed its 2017 State of Application Delivery (SOAD) study. “A new dynamic has emerged as this shift towards faster, smarter and safer customer experiences means that businesses are increasingly relying on a mobile- and application-centric IT for a tech savvy workforce.”

This new dynamic sets the stage for enterprising IT leaders to step up and guide their business to effective action – navigating structural shifts and identifying critical skill sets and talents to acquire, develop or deepen; leveraging automation and orchestration or tying up with the right ecosystem partners where critical skills are in short supply; harnessing the right technologies to boost security, scalability and operational efficiencies and costs; while minimizing technology implementation risks.

Indeed, the enterprising leader can turn the tide of obsolescence and make fading businesses great again – by simply getting the right things done right.

This is a QuestexAsia feature commissioned by F5 Networks Asia Pacific.