Digital transformation in Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand is already heavily underway particularly in terms of internal systems, products, and services, according to a new report by MIT Technology Review Insights in association with Huawei. The digitalization of manufacturing and supply chains is lagging, but will be substantially accelerated by the launch of 5G.
The report, “From Follower to Leader: Digital Transformation and the Road to 5G,” is based on a multi-industry survey of senior technology executives across the six Asia-Pacific markets as well as expert interviews. It examines how companies are deploying Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies such as cloud, IoT, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, robotics, blockchain, and virtual and augmented reality, as well as preparing for the opportunities that will open up through 5G.
The study finds that companies are already making strong progress with digital transformation in internal systems, products, and services. Cloud and IoT are the most established 4IR technologies, with 29% and 34% of respondents having already deployed these for one year.
Improving customer experience is the single biggest driver of technology adoption across the region, followed by increasing the speed of decision-making and increasing operational agility. The high cost of deployment is the number one challenge to further digitalization.
The report also reveals that 5G is expected sooner rather than later. Two-thirds of respondents report that there are active conversations taking place inside their organizations about the future impact of 5G, yet only 46% say that there is a good understanding of the benefits that 5G will bring. Nevertheless, 65% expect 5G to be available in 2020, with a further 18% anticipating 2021 as a more likely date.
Collaboration and ecosystem development will further fuel digital transformation. Only 35% of respondents believe that there is sufficient infrastructure in terms of regulation, connectivity, and public services to support further digitalization, which shows there is more to be done.
Some 82% of survey respondents think infrastructure upgrade costs are the key 5G hurdle that telecom operators will need to overcome, yet 83% believe that telecoms will take the lead in the future 5G ecosystem. A further 70% feel that governments should create a collaborative environment for 5G.
“This survey finds that executives in Asia-Pacific are bullish on new technology, with the majority having plans to launch either AI, automation, or IoT within a year,” says Claire Beatty, editor of the report. “They also have high expectations that 5G will be available within the next two years, and that the manufacturing, financial services and automotive sectors will benefit the most.”