As the world casts its eyes towards the new year, business leaders are bracing themselves for a 2023 of continued economic uncertainty and ongoing international geopolitical tensions. Commentators use terms such as ‘agile’ and ‘resilient’ to describe the kinds of organisations most likely to come out on top, and in a digital-first world, companies also must carefully consider the agility and resilience of their IT estates. The global challenges of the last two years have proven that technologies and digital innovations form the foundation that ensures long term success. As 2023 approaches, Joseph Yang, Managing Director of HPE Singapore, shares his predictions on trends that will shape the technology and IT landscape in Asia Pacific (APAC), including IT sustainability, data security and the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI), along with a closing thought on how enterprises can navigate the anticipated headwinds.
More emphasis on IT and data sustainability
Sustainability has been a critical business conversation for years, but 2023 will see APAC organisations place increasing emphasis on IT and data centre sustainability. More and more companies in the region are acknowledging sustainability as both a force for good and a source of business value, and are showing increased commitment to tackling climate issues and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. A 2022 CDP report revealed that 98% of surveyed companies in APAC have management-level oversight for climate-related issues, and 65% have an active emissions reduction target.
When it comes to IT procurement and operations, sustainability will be a major factor in companies’ decision-making, as they turn to IT vendors for technologies and best practices that will help reduce the carbon footprints and environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. This is where IT vendors can make a difference, offering enterprise customers solutions that drive circularity and improve the business’ overall IT efficiency in terms of equipment, energy, resources and software. Lastly, more businesses will also consider a shift towards as-a-service models, which not only helps manage costs, but also contributes to efficiency gains across the IT lifecycle.
A changing focus on data-first security
As ransomware and data breaches evolve, APAC enterprises will be rethinking their strategy and approach to data security. In 2021, 78% of organisations in the region were targeted by ransomware, with 51% paying the ransom. In recent years, ransomware has evolved in scale and complexity, with new tactics causing more damage to victims, such as double extortion. Attackers not only encrypt the victim’s data, but also steal and threaten to release it online. Even after the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee the attackers will delete the stolen data, leaving the victim at permanent risk of data exposure.
Against these new ransomware tactics, organisations will focus on preventing attacks from happening in the first place. That requires a different approach and mindset to data protection beyond backup and recovery. In 2023, more and more organisations will start to recognize that the first step to data security is data auditing and classification, to have a better understanding of what is being stored, where it’s stored and why. This is particularly critical with the proliferation of distributed workplaces where organisational data is spread across environments without proper security measures in place. Rather than backing up all data, categorising and deleting obsolete information and files will eliminate the chance of them being stolen while saving organisations the cost of storing and securing such data.
A more ethical approach to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)
In 2023, AI/ML will be at the forefront of technologies to accelerate digital transformation for APAC enterprises. IDC predicted that APAC spending on AI systems (hardware, software, and services) will rise from USD20.6 billion in 2022 to around USD46.6 billion in 2026. In Singapore, the government has also recently announced it would invest an additional USD50 million to attract and develop AI talent in the country.
As more organisations and individuals rely on automated technologies, it is critical to address the concerns of ethics and diversity around AI. Data diversity is crucial in reducing bias and improving the accuracy of AI models, ensuring that AI and its applications can benefit as many people as possible while minimising errors and risks that negatively impact minority groups in the data sources. It will also enable the AI technologies to be scalable across geographical locations.
With AI and automated processes becoming more prevalent in the workplace – from hiring to team assignments, performance reviews, monitoring and surveillance, data diversity will also be an important aspect of workplace diversity and inclusion. Companies will need to ensure the data used to train their algorithms are diverse and comprehensive to prevent built-in biases that could result in workplace discriminations.
Navigating the “Triple Squeeze”
2023 will continue to be shaped by uncertainty and disruptions, with the global and regional economies heading towards recession. Gartner has coined the term “Triple Squeeze” to refer to the three challenges facing business leaders in today’s economic climate: high inflation, global supply constraints and talent scarcity. In APAC, while positive growth is expected in the second half of the year particularly with China’s potential reopening, Goldman Sachs predicted that the region’s economy is still likely to start the year on the weak side.
Amidst such headwinds, APAC business leaders will need to be more prudent in their spending and investments, cutting costs where necessary while still keeping business and operations running. Specific to IT operations, we will see businesses move some of their workloads from the public cloud back to on- premises infrastructure for better cost visibility and management. Regardless of their IT environment, efficiency and cost-effectiveness will be a key consideration for enterprises when it comes to IT procurement and operations in the coming year and beyond.
Joseph is the Managing Director of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Singapore. In this role, he is focused on driving HPE Singapore’s business strategy and development, as the company advances its edge-to-cloud transformation agenda and helps organisations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data. Joseph is also responsible for fostering close engagement with valued customers, partners and stakeholders in Singapore and the Asia Pacific region to strengthen HPE’s market leadership in delivering a unified hybrid-cloud services experience anywhere.
In his previous role as HPE’s General Manager for Storage and Data Services for Asia Pacific, Joseph drove the edge-to-cloud as-a-service transformation of HPE’s Storage and Data Services business across Asia Pacific through the HPE GreenLake platform.
Prior to HPE, Joseph was Chief Technology Officer and Director of Professional and Managed Services at Microware Limited, one of the largest IT resellers in the Hong Kong market and a close HPE partner.
Joseph has over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry both at the helm of Microware in Hong Kong as well as in the US market; having worked directly with Fortune 500 customers developing B2B sales enablement and e-commerce solutions at an industry leading