Businesses must drive digital transformation beyond technology adoption, say industry experts.
A key message to emerge from the recent Alibaba Cloud Summit Kuala Lumpur 2019, the advice was a recurring theme among a number of technology leaders present at the event.
The first time it has been held in Malaysia, the full-day summit brought together various stakeholders to discuss Alibaba Cloud’s technologies and solutions.
The conversation around cloud has seen a shift in focus in recent years, as companies increasingly move into utilising it as the foundation to build an ecosystem for newer developments, including data technology.
“Digital is built to be inclusive but transformation cannot happen naturally. It has to be driven by human beings.
“We believe in the power of data technology and see the opportunity of this new technology, ” said Alibaba Globalisation Office secretary-general Song Juntao.
Also the project leader for Alibaba Group’s electronic World Trade Platform, he shared that the conglomerate is conducting a study on making the technology more affordable for SMEs, to not only ensure inclusivity but also its success here.
He added: “Big companies are important because they help establish credibility, but to grow we need to lower the cost and make it affordable for every company.”
Locally, Alibaba Cloud will be putting in more resources to tap into the big growth potential. The plan is to focus on investing in its people, training courses and product launches in its data centres to provide better support for its customers, shared Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International president Selina Yuan.
The cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group established its first data centre in the country in 2017 and doubled its capacity by adding another data centre in 2018, with further expansion completed earlier this year.
Echoing Song, she said that the goal is to promote technology inclusiveness by helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other businesses embark on digital transformation.
“There may be traditional industries that need the support of cloud for online business, as they can’t survive doing just offline business.
“Combining online and offline (as a business model) is the new trend, where companies can embrace our technology to improve their traditional business and start online, ” she said.
In general, larger companies, multinational corporations and others of their ilk have reached the next stage in the digital transformation journey and are leveraging technology for transformation, especially to unlock the hidden value of data to tap into new opportunities for growth.
Technology is no longer seen as an enabler, but as a core for businesses. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief executive officer Surina Shukri said that while advancements enabling connectivity and data intelligence have led to new opportunities, businesses must also focus on transforming the mindset as well.
In this, SMEs are still lagging behind in the digital transformation journey. The biggest employer in the country, the sector’s SMEs also form the majority of the business establishments here, but technology adoption remains relatively low despite the national push towards the digital way of doing business.
In terms of the country’s readiness to embrace new technologies, MDEC chief operating officer Datuk Ng Wan Peng pointed out the big divide between using it as consumers and as businesses.
“As a country and its people, we’re very ready when it comes to mobile phone and internet penetration. We’re well known for social media adoption. It seems we’re ready to embrace it as a consumer of solutions developed elsewhere, but not so much in using it as a tool to increase productivity, ” she opined in a panel session during the event.
The panel discussion, one of the highlights of the morning’s plenary session, also featured Touch n’ Go Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Syahrunizam Samsudin, Averis Sdn Bhd chief information officer Patrick Khoo and CIMB Bank Bhd transforming customer journeys team head Kanags Surendran.