We’re now over halfway through a year heralded by IDC as the ‘Dawn of the DX (digital transformation) Economy’.
This is the “inflection point as digital transformation efforts shift from ‘project’ or ‘initiative’ status to strategic business imperative,” explained Frank Gens, Senior Vice President and Chief Analyst at IDC. “Every (growing) enterprise, regardless of age or industry, must become ‘digital native’ in the way its executives and employees think, what they produce, and how they operate.
Naturally, companies failing to keep up with digital transformation are at severe risk of falling behind, or fading away. What does this mean for the APAC region?
Singapore’s AI investment
The National Research Foundation aims to boost Singapore’s AI capabilities with a S$150 million injection. The government is encouraging startups to partner with local research institutes and pool expertise for solving challenges facing the population. The initial focus will be on three areas: finance, city management, and healthcare.
Another example of Singapore’s private-public initiatives is the recently launched Data Science & Artificial Intelligence Research (DSAIR). Launched by Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, the DSAIR comprises 60 scientists and researchers. The team’s brief is to combine ‘deep expertise in AI and machine learning with big data analytics to pioneer new technologies for key sectors of the Singapore economy’.
Australia’s big data boost
Australian firms’ maturity around big data has risen sharply over the past two years. The ‘Telsyte Australian Big Data & Analytics Market Study 2017’ finds strong demand for ‘high volume data processing and real-time intelligence’ in its big data maturity model. A reported 30% of enterprises want to harness big data in order to take advantage of predictive analytics.
Machine learning is another area where Australian innovation and transformation is taking off. The Garvan-Deakin Program in Advanced Genomic Investigation (PAGI) will use machine learning for DNA sequencing, mapping human genes as part of the Human Genome Project. Australia has a clear advantage in this area, with large clinical data sets that can accelerate ‘next generation of data-driven biomedical discovery and healthcare transformation’.
Hong Kong as an innovation hub
The growing trend towards multi-cloud convergence and ‘interconnected commerce’ is contributing to a ‘cloud rush’ in Hong Kong. A Microsoft report predicts an increase from 31% to 37% in hybrid cloud take-up among IT leaders, as digital transformation gathers pace.
Finance is an industry undergoing high-profile transformation in Hong Kong, where government-supported fintech programs have seen it join Singapore and Sydney as the ‘three innovation hubs in the Asia-Pacific region’.
Japan poised for transformation
Japan is now one of APAC’s leaders in digital transformation readiness. The Asian Digital Transformation Index assesses countries’ overall environment based on three criteria: enabling ICT infrastructure, local talent, and openness to partnerships. Japan is ranked third, with South Korea second and Singapore in first place.
Japan recently hit the headlines after Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance took on an Artificial Intelligence system, replacing more than 30 employees. Based on IBM Watson’s Explorer, the $1.7 million technology will reportedly ‘be able to read large quantities of medical documents and consider other relevant factors as it calculates the payout amount for each policy claimed—but the actual payment still requires approval from a human staffer’.
APAC’s future direction
Of course, in a diverse region such as APAC there will be plenty of variation in digital transformation readiness. However, the above examples show underline the pace of innovation. Naturally, the demand for data will rise exponentially. Data centres will need to adapt in order to support APAC and meet this demand.