SE Asian CIOs should prioritise trust in 2020

Increasing privacy concerns will push CIOs in the region to shy away from unregulated AI.

Business ethics  >  Handshake extended in trust / reliability / transparency
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2020 will be a year of people management for CIOs, according to the latest forecast by American research company Forrester. Ongoing economic volatility and slower global growth in 2020 will impact CIOs’ transformation agendas, affecting plans to cut costs and to reduce staffing needs through training, according to Forrester. Its analysts expect CIOs to automate 10 percent of their IT tasks and look to upskill their workforce to improve efficiency.

Those CIOs who aim to be ahead of the game will leverage this as an opportunity to present themselves as business leaders and to showcase their tech-driven innovation, ecosystem-building skills, and people management.

In ASEAN, CIOs must look beyond their traditional realm of technology and focus on how they can impact their organisations’ business through technology driven innovation, explains Achim Granzen, principal analyst at Forrester.

“This includes the aspects of establishing the right culture to leverage technology; attract, build and retain the right skills, and change organisational structures and ways of working,” he adds. “CIOs must take an active role in creating an environment that allows technology innovations to reach their full potential, including an increased focus on employee experience.”

CIOs in ASEAN can also expect and benefit from an increasingly fierce competition in the public cloud market. Forrester predicts Alibaba threatening Google in Asia, with both intensifying their technology and go-to-market footprint in this region of high economic growth.

Within the consumer market, Southeast Asian CIOs will need to ensure that technology choices impacting customer experience are bullet-proof, as there is a lot less margin for error in the ASEAN consumer markets, says Granzen.

“Consumer trends are generally amplified in ASEAN, both in terms of scale and speed, due to the specific demographics. Consumers choose fast, and in masses,” he says, pointing to the withdrawal of Uber from the market after defeat by local competitors Grab and Go-Jek.

IoT as-a-service on the rise

A global trend of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics will ingrain organisations, moving closer to customers and becoming part of the makeup and operations of companies.

Beyond the IT department, leading CIOs will become trusted advisors and partners to employee experience and HR teams to help with changing workforce dynamics, including working with new emerging technologies and actively working to prepare their businesses for automation.

Within the ASEAN region, the internet of things (IoT) will have a strong impact on different industries, something that CIOs can turn to their advantage.

“While not an emerging technology in itself, in the space of IoT we will see new business models taking hold, such as a shift to IoT solutions as-a-service,” says Granzen. 

“In particular for manufacturing, energy and utilities, and logistics verticals, CIOs will have new options for how they procure and leverage IoT, similar to the multiple options they have for IT infrastructure.”

Customer trust at stake

A sharp increase in reports of data breaches, corporate misconduct and government surveillance in recent years has generated anxiety and worry among consumers about how their personal data is handled. 

ASEAN is no exception, and securing customers’ trust in the application of artificial intelligence is likely to require the use of regulated solutions and the assurance of its legitimate use to. Granzen said that CIOs in the region should focus on AI ethics when creating AI-enabled outcomes that are acceptable to consumers.

“AI will drive business results in business process optimisation and customer experience that go way beyond cost savings (which was not a big thing in Asia). A young, tech-positive consumer market will ease the acceptance of AI applications, but with privacy concerns on the rise also in ASEAN, that trust can be lost quickly,” added Granzen.

Forrester predicts that, globally, privacy class-action lawsuits will increase by 300 percent. In reaction to this, companies like Mozilla and Apple are offering consumers new tools that shut out data collection, and Forrester expects new regulations will come into effect.

Trust is a key theme across all of Forrester’s 2020 predictions: “Brands, organisations and individuals have to earn trust of their customers both in B2C and in B2B environments. CIOs must therefore prioritise technology that helps build trusts, for example in cybersecurity, privacy and ethical use of data, availability and speed of services, and quality of products and services.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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