Pandemic helps accelerate digital transformation across South East Asia

Digital transformation in the South East Asia region (ASEAN) has seen dramatic acceleration due to COVID-19, as the pandemic highlighted enterprises' reliance on traditional IT infrastructure.

COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for ASEAN organisations who've put off their digital transformation plans for too long. Their reliance on legacy infrastructure, including captive data centres and traditional network services, made it all the more challenging to adapt to the changes necessitated by the virus, such as remote working and the growth of digital customer channels.

"COVID-19 shines a spotlight on nearly-broken processes and modes of business operations," points out Forrester principal analyst Achim Granzen.

When the pandemic hit and countries began locking down, the majority of organisations in South East Asia sat on two ends of a spectrum. Many multinational corporations already had extensive business continuity plans in place, while other businesses were caught off-guard.


The rush to enable remote working

"Some felt they were ready for this all their lives and ported quickly to a virtual working environment, while there was a large group - predominantly SMEs - that were unable to shift their business quickly," says Sudev Bangah, managing director for IDC ASEAN. "In most countries, the lockdown notice was barely two days, which was not enough time for businesses to pivot, and the lack of business continuity planning within these organisations were quickly exposed."

Most applications were still hosted in-house, designed to be accessed by users within the corporate network. This caused many issues when movement restrictions were put into place, and the need to enable remote working changed ICT priorities.

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