By Frank Feldmann, Vice President, APAC Office of Technology, Red Hat Asia Pacific
From shifting to work from home policies to customers’ increasing demand for better services and experience, organizations are finding that they need to transform faster to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect technology trends to only continue to evolve as reliance on technology becomes more critical in our current social and economic landscape. To ride out the wave rather than sink in it, forward-thinking organizations in Asia-Pacific (APAC) should rethink their digital transformation strategies based on these trends we expect to see in the coming year.
5G, IoT, Edge computing: The trio for intelligent connectivity
APAC will continue progressing on its 5G journey. While commercial 5G services are already available in nine markets in the region — including South Korea, Japan, and China — another 12 have officially announced similar plans. The increased availability of 5G will help drive the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and edge computing to deliver ultra-low latency, high bandwidth network, and effectively support large-scale distribution of endpoints. For example, 5G, IoT and edge computing can be applied to smart fleet management, wherein edge devices can monitor critical vehicle systems and access the 5G network to send alerts, track the flow of goods, plan routes, and facilitate communications between a vehicle and any IoT-enabled entity that may affect or be affected by the vehicle.
We foresee more APAC organizations and cities adopting 5G, IoT, and edge computing in 2021 to become more connected and efficient. Emerging use cases for the three technologies include analyzing sensor data for predictive maintenance and quality control, augmented reality systems for remote operations, and personalized ‘connected experiences’ for customer and supplier engagement.
Security is a growing priority for hybrid cloud
Customers and employees alike now expect business applications and services to be highly available, on-demand and secure. To achieve that, we recommend organizations to embrace hybrid cloud in order to run workloads across any environment (i.e., on-premises, private or public cloud) more easily and quickly. Red Hat’s 2021 Global Tech Outlook found that 77% of APAC organizations surveyed plan to use more than one cloud platform — be it private and public clouds — in the next 12 months, up from 53% in 2020. According to the survey results, the top three reasons for organizations to run their applications across hybrid cloud include improving data security, gaining IT agility, and addressing data privacy concerns.
Security will remain a focus area as organizations progress in their hybrid cloud journey — nearly half of the organizations we surveyed globally cited cloud security as their top funding priority next year. The challenge when it comes to security is that it is made up of different elements such as endpoint, network and data security. One way of overcoming this is by adopting an open security automation framework that unifies the different security practices using a set of automated workflows. By doing so, organizations can gain greater visibility across the entire security function, enabling them to identify threats or remediate cyber attacks faster.
Cloud-native will drive container adoption
Cloud-native applications can respond quickly to change, adapting and evolving with new features and functionalities released incrementally more quickly, reliably and frequently with less risk. As more organizations adopt hybrid cloud to increase the scalability and availability of apps, those that also embrace cloud-native development are in a better position to build and run responsive, scalable, and fault-tolerant apps on any cloud.
Containers are a key technology for unlocking the benefits of cloud-native development. Containers enable applications to be packaged and isolated with their entire runtime environment, making it easier to move them between environments while retaining full functionality. With containers, developers can more easily release and update apps as a collection of loosely coupled services, like microservices, instead of having to wait for one large release. Recognizing that containers can help accelerate innovation, 45% of APAC respondents from the 2021 Global Tech Outlook expect more than half of their workloads to be containerized in the next 12 months.
Automation is on the rise
Customers are demanding more at a faster pace, while IT architectures are ever-changing and built on increasingly complicated technology stacks. Organizations also need to support a work-from-home productivity model during the COVID-19 pandemic. To address these requirements, APAC organizations are increasingly turning to automation to reduce complexity, improve productivity, and lower operating cost. However, they must have an enterprise-wide automation strategy instead of deploying automation in silos in order to fully benefit from the technology.
More organizations are increasingly using automation in conjunction with artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an additional layer of automated insight to optimize business processes. Some APAC banks are already using robotic process automation (RPA) to approve credit card applications, automate payments, and validate claims. Because RPA can augment and mimic human judgment and behavior to replicate rules-based human action, it reduces the time taken for those tasks.
Open culture needs to complement technology modernization
According to a November 2019 study sponsored by Red Hat, 80% of APAC business leaders surveyed rank cultural change and technology modernization of equal importance for digital transformation. Cultural characteristics key for transformation include adaptability, inclusivity, transparency, and collaboration – all of which are open source principles. Organizations that have supported their cultural change initiatives with efforts to modernize their infrastructure and application architecture have been able to quickly develop and deliver new applications, respond rapidly to customer demands, and control maintenance costs.
With APAC businesses recognizing that digital transformation is driven by a change in mindset, we foresee more organizations embracing open principles, processes, and culture next year. By doing so, organizations can nurture collaboration and empower employees to bring their best ideas and selves to work, which can help accelerate innovation and address changing customer and business requirements in an agile manner.
All in all, global events in 2020 have caused organizations to focus on near-term survival goals to support business continuity. As the business landscape continues to evolve, APAC organizations must prepare for the future by adopting flexible, agile and scalable technology solutions. Considering trends such as 5G and edge computing, hybrid cloud and automation can help organizations as they develop or update their digital transformation plans in 2021.