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Helping Asian Enterprises Advance

The case for digital transformation is stronger than ever in Asia. As the region becomes increasingly connected, and focus shifts to global expansion, change has evolved from a luxury to a necessity. Tapping on global insights, more and more organizations in this part of the world are beginning to recognize the benefits of digital transformation, thanks in part to the widespread availability of case studies and research literature.

To cite one, a study by Harvard Business School and Keystone Strategy revealed how improved company performance was tied closely to digitally transformed organizations, where digital leaders recorded 18 percent higher gross margins than digital laggards.

Meanwhile, IDC’s World Digital Transformation Spending Guide predicts that worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will grow to more than USD2.1 trillion in 2019. So the question is no longer whether corporations should spend, but how to spend. In fact, 45 percent of Asian organizations still feature as early stage digital resisters, according to an IDC survey, suggesting a trove of further untapped opportunities in the region.

What trends should organizations look at? Where do they start? Who can they trust to guide them? These are but a sliver of considerations senior decision makers contemplate on a consistent basis.

Creating Real Enterprise Value

Contrary to what many think, digital transformation has been around for some time, way before its rise to fame. The widespread adoption of personal computers at the workplace is one turning point in recent history that is frequently overlooked. So are Wi-Fi penetration and that of ultrafast mobile data networks, which have become a mainstay in today’s knowledge-based economy. Of late, advancements in data science technologies have been established on this base to provide enterprises the means to discover new knowledge and trends that better serve key decision makers.

“The macro trends are coming in like cyber security, IoT (the Internet of Things), as well as artificial intelligence. These are the three key major trends that are shaping the industry, as well as governments within Asia and globally,” said Mervyn Cheah, Head, NEC Laboratories Singapore.

Speaking at the NEC Innovative Solutions Fair 2017, Dr. Nobuhiro Endo, Chairman of the Board at NEC Corporation, revealed how advancements in artificial intelligence have enabled real-time integration into business intelligence. To elaborate, data insights solicited with speed and accuracy could support the creation of new wisdom for scenario-based decision-making—even in time-sensitive environments.

The resolution of longstanding industry issues, all the way to the ground level, may be the greatest validation of Dr. Endo’s claim. Held in Singapore on January 19, 2017, the NEC Innovative Solutions Fair 2017 featured an array of groundbreaking ICT technologies developed by the company to solve real industry problems. Among them, was a cashless payment system powered by NEC’s world-renowned face recognition technology. By scanning an individual’s facial patterns, the system’s sensors showcased its ability to log payments without the need for cash or credit cards. This system could go a long way to curb fraud, especially the use of stolen credit cards, and protect shoppers in the process.

NEC is well aware that an end-to-end approach to innovation is necessary to help businesses function at maximum potential. One such solution, called the Store Lifecycle Management Service, was featured at the exhibition. The all-encompassing platform demonstrated its remote monitoring capabilities in detecting issues across store equipment, fixtures and IT devices, allowing operators to rectify issues proactively, as opposed to being reactive when problems blow out of proportion.

The preventative nature of this solution means maintenance can now be managed in a manner that does not disrupt operations. But above all, these efficiencies beget cost savings that margin-dependent retailers would come to appreciate.

The exhibition also delivered other groundbreaking revelations in healthcare. For example, patient data processed by smart AI technologies were shown to deliver more accurate judgement and prediction of recovery levels for stroke patients. Equipped with such information, nursing intervention could be targeted more efficiently, freeing up precious resources for other patients that need them more.

As Asia’s population burgeons and more mature societies face an imminent aging population, already-stretched healthcare systems would find increased difficulty keeping pace. To this end, the integration of ICT capabilities could spell better treatment outcomes and reduce patient-care burden without the need to expand current resource bases.

The list can go on, and on. All said, the aforementioned technologies at work comprise only the tip of real-world possibilities that could disengage entrenched inefficiencies across industries far and wide. In other words, applications are not limited to any specific industry.

So how can enterprises make it happen for real?

Partnering for Transformation

Every new opportunity presents itself with new challenges. None speaks more to this statement than the deep divide of what enterprises expect digital transformation to deliver, and how they actually materialize.

While it is widely accepted that ICT can be harnessed by enterprises in multifaceted ways to reduce operational drag, getting to that privileged position is usually where the challenge lies. A sailor plotting a course in open sea cannot afford even the slightest deviation as such errors could throw a ship off course from its intended destination. Likewise, the margin of error for organization-wide digital restructuring can be just as unforgiving.

New technology cannot merely be welded onto aging infrastructure like stacking new bricks on a run-down building. Instead, transformation has to unravel from the inside-out for meaningful change to come about. To stay the course, Asian enterprises should look to partner with an ICT service provider that understands both the modern digital turf and the industries these technologies aim to improve. Only then, can digital integration score tangible goals.

“As an ICT company, you really need to know the domain of the various sectors,” said Cheah. “At the domain level, NEC is playing a very big part. You can find NEC doing many ICT solutions, projects, not just in Singapore, but globally.”

With an already stellar record in adapting to complex environments in Asia and beyond, NEC’s finely tuned innovation capabilities in the ICT sphere is well-poised to support enterprises in their search for productivity gains and the creation of business value.

“Digital transformation is different from big companies to small-medium companies. We believe that we want to help companies create better value, and working together with customers directly in training them, coaching them, on how to really approach a project and deliver it confidently and successfully,” added Cheah.

— Shaun Lin, Bloomberg Media. Creative Writer, Media Marketing

Bloomberg Media Studios

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