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Breaking Down Digital Transformation – What Every Business Leader in Asia Needs to Know
January 10, 2019 Blog


By Julian Quinn, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Qlik

Last year, businesses globally made Digital Transformation (DX) their key focus. While such a largescale initiative has been positively received by the industry, Forrester’s 2019 predictions revealed a slightly different reality.

It found that 50 percent of organisations had their transformation efforts stalled due to the difficulty and cost in implementing these strategies. As such, businesses are likely to turn to more pragmatic and tactical approaches in 2019, predicted the analyst house.

With DX likely to remain at the top of the business agenda, business leaders will do well to take note of these three key things when it comes to implementing pragmatic solutions in their DX journey:

  1. Leverage Big Data and AI to enable digital transformation

Big Data and AI usually take centerstage when it comes to making a case for digital transformation – and for good reason! Leveraging these technologies will enable businesses to understand what is required to change and how best to drive the new change efficiently.

Akindo Sushiro, a leading sushi chain in Japan that serves billions of plates of sushi each year does this well. All its plates are fitted with RFID tags, allowing it to monitor important metrics such as freshness and sales trends. The restaurant tracks when and what sushi was placed on the conveyor belt at which restaurant; when it was eaten or disposed of and which tables ordered what sushi during which time frame. As a result, Akindo Sushiro improved restaurant management, operations, minimised food wastage and developed new products based on the data it analysed.

Looking ahead, Big Data and AI offer potential opportunities that businesses can take advantage of. According to IDC, 60 percent of organisations in Asia Pacific will act on these opportunities to enhances their business functions, increase competitive advantage and generate new revenue sources. It is clear that there is much to gain for businesses looking to leverage these technologies.

  1. Remember that the best solutions support human-centered analysis

While a large part of digital transformation is about not being afraid to adopt new technologies, it is also important not to lose sight of the value of the human perspective in decision making and analysis.

At Qlik, we believe that the use of AI will make analytics more human, not less. Designing AI around humans will result in a higher value impact for organisations over the next five years, rather than designing to remove humans from the process.

Across the information value chain – from reading the data, to preparing it, critically analysing it with less bias and presenting contextual results – AI can and will remove many of the bottle-necks that make users give up in their hunt for information insights. Machine learning and telemetry will also capture the power of the collective, which can be fed back in a virtuous loop, further improving and contextualising the user experience. This may seem like a paradox but with AI in the mix, data and analytics are made to be more human than ever.

  1. Align employee skillset to business growth so that no one is left behind

Digital transformation ambitions are driven by the pressing need to create growth that is not just faster, but also more sustainable.

Very often, what is overlooked is the huge gap between the data created, and the human ability to process it and act upon it. There is also a gap between the availability of today’s analytical tools, and their adoption within organisations. Businesses should be mindful to build data literacy programs into their strategies so that these gaps can be bridged and employees can be empowered.

United Overseas Bank (UOB) is a great example of an organisation that continues to this this successfully. At UOB’s Big Data Analytics Centre, UOB hold training sessions for their internal business partners who may not come from a data analytics background. This enables them to learn how data discovery can enhance the way they serve customers or to make their operational processes more efficient.  To ensure that the training is relevant to the participants, UOB uses historical data sets from their businesses to reflect the types of data the participants would handle in their day-to-day work. The aim of these training sessions is to leave participants with a solid grounding in self-service data discovery and to open their thinking to new ways of exploring data and doing business. UOB has trained over 350 employees in their head office in Singapore and plans to extend the training to their international subsidiaries such as those in ASEAN.

While such enablement programs may seem like an investment in the short term, it is important to have these in place so that businesses can ensure that they are growing sustainably in the long run.