Tech experts caution against change for change's sake
Digital transformation at companies must be driven by business needs and not simply involve chasing after the latest technology, according to a panel of tech experts.
"Companies know the digital transition is coming, but don't always know what to do and where to invest to get good return on investment," Rittavee Matungka, project leader at Boston Consulting Group, told the Thailand Management Association's Digital Transformation Forum. "They need to know that any digital transformation must be value-led, not technology-led."
As companies rush to digitise, some fall in the trap of digitising for its own sake, he said. For instance, some companies will make a proprietary mobile app just because it's something they are supposed to do, without thinking about how it will add value to the company or its services.
Instead, companies should look to other firms that successfully leveraged their digital assets to expand into different sectors: Grab started as a ride-hailing app, then used the same infrastructure to move into food and parcel deliveries. Qantas Airways used its accumulated customer data to start an insurance business.
Van Tang, head of urban solutions for Asia-Pacific at Hitachi Consulting, agreed with Mr Rittavee's premise.
"Business-led is almost always more successful, but you have to have the leadership engaged," he said. "Top executives have to be committed and have the drive to push this innovation."
He also advised businesses to make customer-driven change. For example, Blockbuster, the US brick-and-mortar video rental chain, failed to adapt to more convenient rental innovations and got steamrollered by Netflix.
Lego, on the other hand, was able to adapt over time by looking at what its customers - young children - wanted. It began offering Lego sets centred on popular franchises like Star Wars, while adjusting the supply chain to be timed around movie releases. Blockbuster failed to listen to its customers, but Lego did.
Kitipong Tarasirisakul, chief technology officer of Huawei Technologies Thailand, said each organisation should find its own path towards digital transformation.
"Because Huawei is such a big company, we cannot change every process in our organisation, so we needed common things for the organisation to follow," he said. "We decided to make everything in our digital transformation be in real time, all online, do-it-yourself."
For instance, the company gave customers the ability to access all Huawei goods and services online without having to deal with a middleman.
Robert Jessing, senior manager of Accenture Strategy, said most companies have already undergone the first round of digitisation, implementing technology like cloud and mobile tech.
"You don't say we're living in the era of electricity because we have electricity, or the era of the automobile because we have cars," he said. "We have been in the digital era for a while and are already moving on to new technologies."
He said the next phase of technology, the ramifications of which are not fully clear, will include artificial intelligence, virtual reality and quantum computing.
Quantum computing is still new but rapidly progressing, Mr Jessing said, and it can be used to significantly improve Internet of Things (IoT) networks.
The foundation of already implemented technologies is solid, making for a confident step forward into the next phase, he said.
For Thailand, he sees the major banks as the most adept at digitising, while agriculture, the least advanced sector, has the most potential for implementing smart technologies like IoT.
"Business-led is almost always more successful, but you have to have the leadership engaged."
HEAD OF URBAN SOLUTIONS FOR ASIA-PACIFIC, HITACHI CONSULTING
Bangkok Post | 27 เม.ย. 2562 | หน้า 1 |