The past two years have seen the business landscape in a state of flux, with agility, resilience and fluidity at the top of leaders’ minds as they continue navigating COVID-19 and grapple with unforeseen events – from supply-chain issues to the constant threat of climate disasters.
Fortunately, Singapore’s business leaders acknowledge the need to keep up with these changes, with technology being a critical enabler. Furthermore, the introduction of various digitalisation schemes at Singapore’s recent Budget 2022 has yet again provided a stepping stone for businesses to shore up their digital capabilities for greater operational agility and resilience. According to Enterprise Singapore, 21,900 companies adopted such loans in 2021 with this objective in mind, marking a 47% increase since 2020.
While these figures are encouraging, the reality is that many local enterprises remain lost with where to begin in their digitalisation roadmaps. Many still find themselves asking what technologies and infrastructure they should invest in, and how they can build agility and resilience into their technology investments, for long-term success.
Given the speed and scale at which disruption is rippling through the world, we are starting to see an increasing divide between organisations that truly embrace flexibility across their tech and business operations and the ones that don’t.
The future is fluid
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that predicting the next market disruption is virtually impossible. In Singapore, businesses have been urged to develop agile, business continuity plans as more anticipate continual waves of Covid disruptions — from hindered operations and significant delays across the supply chain to managing a workforce that has changed forever due to the increased acceptance of remote working.
These threats and changes have demonstrated that traditional business planning cycles are no longer relevant nor reliable. Rather than developing rigid, long-term business plans, organisations must instead focus on building flexibility into their organisations to better weather future disruptions.
The fluid organisation will no longer find relevance in stagnant or legacy solutions that are predicated upon assumptions that their business today will remain the same for years to come. This also applies to the technology roadmaps that businesses adopt.
Recent research revealed that Singaporean enterprises are increasingly turning to cloud computing — specifically, multicloud infrastructures offering a mix of both public and private clouds — to plug operational gaps and drive business continuity. As organisations continue prioritising operational agility, cloud-based offerings will enable them to scale operations at speed, and better manage their data and workloads while supporting a hybrid workforce.
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Financial agility and metered consumption
The pandemic has also highlighted the critical need for financial agility as budgets come under greater scrutiny than before. In the same way consumers have become more adept at tracking and managing metered usage for Internet, mobile phone allowances and even energy usage, organisations are adopting this metered approach to rapidly restructure their technology investments as well.
Across ASEAN, we are already seeing enterprises shift their budgets from CAPEX (capital expenditure) to OPEX (operating expenses) models in response to the urgency of portability and cost optimisation. Rather than tying up their capital in rigid, longer-term contracts — which run the risk of technology becoming obsolete and unable to keep up with current market evolutions — more businesses are hinging their investments on performance outcomes.
By measuring ROI and deciding how much IT resource the business will consume, leaders can make investment decisions based on their organisational needs at any particular point in time. Mirroring metered consumption, OPEX or subscription models are typically associated with Software-as-a-Service, including technologies such as the public cloud. These take on a pay-as-you-go model which suits the financial agility required to switch operations up or down at the turn of a hat, without added costs.
In fact, research firm International Data Corp (IDC) forecasts that by 2025, 60% of enterprises will fund IT projects through OPEX budgets, taking advantage of strategic vendor partnerships to secure scalable, resilient and agile IT operations. The ability to shift and tailor their cloud investments will thus offer a level of organisational fluidity and control that organizations across ASEAN will become increasingly eager to embrace.
As a result, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches to cloud are fast becoming obsolete. Instead, organisations are looking to hybrid multicloud models, which offer business leaders the freedom to clamp down on operational and technological inefficiencies and avoid incurring unnecessary costs, while prioritizing vendors that understand and support their evolving requirements.
Outpacing regional and global averages, 82% of Singaporean businesses are looking to such models, running different services with providers that best suit their varied needs – a trend we anticipate will ripple across the region.
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A next-gen workforce
Amidst reports of a Great Resignation wave and talent crunch, the spotlight has been shone on the need for organisations to support employee well-being, as majority of Asian workers hope to continue working in hybrid arrangements and more are demanding greater flexibility across work environments. These new demands add to ongoing pressures on organisations to adopt agile, cloud-based systems that enable employees to work and collaborate from anywhere, at any time of the day.
In addition to improving productivity and reducing technology debt, organisational fluidity will also become an essential part of attracting and retaining top talent. In fact, a LinkedIn study revealed that three-quarters of business leaders in Singapore recognise the value of providing greater flexibility to their employees, and believe that doing so will positively impact company culture.
Disrupt patterns of disruption
The old adage, ‘the only certainty is uncertainty itself’ rings especially true today. With no fixed roadmaps to work from, business leaders must now prepare themselves to disrupt before they are disrupted and build resilience and fluidity into their enterprise from the outset.
This flexibility must be all-encompassing. Everything — from a company’s systems and processes, investments in technology, and budgets, to the way its employees work and collaborate — must be fluid, agile, and ready to change at a moment’s notice. Because in this environment of rampant uncertainty and volatility, anything less is preparing to fail.
Han Chon is the managing director for ASEAN at Nutanix