Asia Pacific CEOs: Cloud Serves as the Foundation for Driving Business Transformation

Posted by Zakir Ahmed, VP and General Manager for Asia

When Singapore-based airlines, Scoot launched in 2011 to serve a market for low-cost medium and long haul flights, the startup looked at several on-premise ERP vendors to manage its operations. Impressed by the cost-efficiency, fast deployment, real-time visibility and flexibility afforded by the cloud, it decided on NetSuite.

Scoot now runs vendor payments, revenue management and fixed asset management for its 2 billion Singaporean dollar fleet on NetSuite. In just five years since its launch, Scoot has expanded to 15 destinations, and plans to deepen its market presence by tripling its fleet size.

As companies like Scoot continue to disrupt the markets in which they operate, cloud software is playing a central role in their IT strategies. The promise the cloud holds for disruptive innovation was a central theme at a roundtable discussion with Scoot and 14 other leading businesses in the Asia Pacific region at the Asia Pacific CEO Congress in Singapore. Early concerns about the cloud have evaporated, the leaders agreed, and top businesses in the region see the cloud as the highway to harness technologies like predictive and big data analytics and real-time, mobile data access.

“The most important and most definite disruptive technology is cloud computing,” said Ng Long Jian, Scoot’s Head of Finance. “It is something that we have been aware of since our inception because of the potential cost savings, particularly the avoidance of any huge investment in IT infrastructure.”

Cloud security, TCO concerns evaporate

Time was, the decision to leverage the cloud hinged on a total cost of ownership discussion. On-premise vendors, eager to preserve relationships with key customers, offered up hosted products as cloud solutions and passed off their long-term value. Yet customers are now hipper to the perils presented by this so-called solution, the business leaders agreed. Hosted on-premise products can’t compete with the total value proposition of the cloud – the ease of integration, upgrades and agility that are enabled by true cloud solutions architected in a multi-tenant environment.

Indeed, senior executives are increasingly placing greater emphasis the idea of value. Although cloud is often looked at from a cost perspective, the power of having real-time business insights, not having to manage an IT organisation, freeing up IT resources to focus on driving technology for the businesses, versus keeping your servers running and backing up your data can’t be reflected in a total cost of ownership.

Business leaders also agreed that security is no longer a roadblock to cloud adoption.

“The amount of resources that cloud companies can put into tackling security issues are far more than what any individual company, irrespective of size, will be able to put to the problem,” said Amit Roy Choudhury of Singapore’s The Business Times. “There might have been an inflection point where that realisation came through, and that is when the security issue went away.”

Analytics, mobile projects top agendas

With confidence in cloud deployments, the business leaders have big plans for the technology to empower deep analytical capabilities and enable real-time data access on mobile devices. Data analysis capabilities will drive business transformation, the business leaders agreed. They expect they’ll deploy extensive data analysis and insight capabilities in the cloud over the next five years, to either streamline or fundamentally amend their route to their customers.

For businesses like iProperty, advanced data analytics will continue to help it improve its customer experiences. For instance, instead of simply serving up real estate data to searching customers, the property website will look to push personalized data to them proactively.

“An online business needs to have great business ideas that are able to disrupt, but it also needs to stay on top of trends,” iProperty’s Georg Chmiel said.

Leaders will also look to the cloud for increased operational and process efficiencies, and to cost effectively enter new markets and new channels to extend their product and service portfolios and deepen engagement with customers.

 As it continues to prove its worth as a business enabler, adoption of the cloud will continue to accelerate across Asia Pacific. Leading businesses will use it to move fast, pivot when needed, and create the future they know is possible for their organisation and customers.

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