IT Leaders in APJ Must Master Speed and Agility

APJ CIOs might be able to move more quickly than their peers in other parts of the world, particularly for more routine tasks, but they are struggling to provide the creativity and flexibility that transformation needs.

Leading organisations know they have to move quickly to take advantage of the global bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic. But for chief information officers (CIOs) in charge of the digital transformation that organisations need to undergo, speed must not come at the expense of agility. 

Our new research shows that many CIOs are anxious about an acceleration gap—where the pace of change may outstrip their ability to capitalise on it.

“Often, it’s the systems that aren’t in place, or the process,” says Pete Schlampp, chief strategy officer at Workday. “But it may be the skills of the people around the business, or the culture of the business—there is a gap between what leaders see they need to do and what is actually possible.”

CIOs in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) are particularly concerned. They have accelerated their workstreams: 

  • 54% say IT can change automated business processes in a matter of days, compared with 37% in EMEA. 
  • 53% are confident about their ability to upgrade IT services quickly, compared with 48% in EMEA.

But they are less likely than those in other regions to be confident about their ability to adapt to the organisation’s needs—just 39% praise the agility of their technology. Among leaders in EMEA and North America, this rises to 43%. 

So APJ CIOs might be able to move more quickly, particularly for more routine tasks, but they are struggling to provide the creativity and flexibility that transformation needs.

Data + Cloud = Agility

How can they close this acceleration gap? One answer lies in data and cloud technology. It is notable that while the region’s IT leaders are just as confident as their global peers that their team can resolve issues for the organisation quickly, they are much less likely to feel confident about their data and the agility of their tech solutions. 

The need to rethink data access is pressing. Just 41% feel they have quality, usable data that can enable the business to make fast pivots, compared with 50% in North America. In Singapore and Hong Kong, that figure falls to just 28% and 39% respectively.

In parallel, the agility that cloud technology provides holds valuable opportunities. Just 36% of APJ CIOs feel confident that they can adopt cloud technologies without legacy constraints, compared with 46% in North America and 44% in EMEA. 

These are the approaches taken by Indonesian technology company Tokopedia, explains Herman Widjaja, its chief technology officer: “The size of data growth that needs to be processed is very high, and there is more variety—human intelligence can no longer keep up. The Tokopedia technology team leverages multi-cloud services to provide high availability and scalable services for our customers.”

APJ Understands Good Data.

The good news is that other APJ CIOs also recognise the importance of data. They are more likely than those in other regions to be planning investments in quality, usable data: 43% see this as one of their top priorities, compared with 37% globally. They are also more likely to want to invest in better real-time measurement – a priority area for 33% of APJ CIOs, compared with just 25% of EMEA CIOs—and see improving their analytical and data science capabilities as a vital step.

The signs are good. Today, 54% of APJ leaders might worry about the gap between where their organisation currently stands and where it needs to be in order to compete, but half say they identify new digital opportunities more quickly than their rivals. By focusing on agility as well as speed, CIOs can ensure their organisations are in a position to take advantage.

Download the full report “Closing the Acceleration Gap: Toward Sustainable Digital Transformation” for more findings from the office of the CFO, CIO, and CHRO.

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