How CIOs can drive digital transformation in Thailand

Ekpawin Sukanan (VMware)
VMware

Following the largest workforce migration in history – triggered by a seismic shift in immediate priorities – forward-thinking CIOs are moving beyond recovery to embrace a ‘Future-Ready’ mindset in Thailand.

Despite ongoing Covid-19 challenges, businesses are building out revised frameworks to overcome economic difficulties and kick-start innovation in 2021 and beyond, underpinned by a suite of enterprise-grade technologies.

Central to such efforts will be multi-cloud and modern applications, enhanced by intrinsic security and shaped by a desire to accelerate growth ambitions and drive digital transformation agendas.

“Digital transformation has fast become the competitive game-changer across Thailand, especially in this new all-digital business environment,” observed Ekpawin Sukanan, country manager of Thailand at VMware. “Many forward-looking Thai organisations have been forging ahead with their digital transformation plans and we have seen positive traction even before the pandemic started.”

According to recent Deloitte findings, more than half (52 percent) of Thai organisations have already implemented digital transformation initiatives, with 14 percent expected to follow within the next 12 months. Key motivations centre around a desire to enhance customer and end-user experience levels (62 percent), transform business processes (62 percent) and better utilise data (60 percent).

“As we transitioned to a sudden remote workforce in the past year, technology has become a business imperative and organisations have also shifted priorities to ramp up on digital adoption to accelerate innovation, agility and scalability in today’s cloud-first environment,” Ekpawin added. “In Thailand, digital transformation has become a central theme for many key industry verticals to boost resilience and future-proof operations.”

One such example is Nimbus, a Bangkok-based start-up which provides more than 20,000 wholesalers across the country with affordable access to VMware-powered cloud services to spur innovation and fast track digital transformation.

Overcoming digital challenges

Despite a clear direction of digital travel in Thailand, transformation plans remain hindered by a lack of internal and external expertise (49 percent), immature digital cultures (45 percent) and organisational silos (37 percent).

In response, and according to Deloitte findings, CIOs are advised to break down functional silos and focus on cross-functional collaboration between teams, now considered crucial to success in digital environments. This is in addition to building a digital philosophy by shifting cultural mindsets to “learn fast and fail fast” when embracing digitalisation.

“As we move into an increasingly digital future, there is a growing importance for CIOs to lead with IT to steer the strategic business direction of the organisation with a clear focus on building resilience while architecting new business models for continued growth,” Ekpawin advised. “Over the past year, many businesses in the country have been busy with addressing existing tech shortcomings.”

Aside from ensuring employees remained productive and secure while working remotely, Thai businesses have also leveraged technology to sustain operations by maintaining reliability and performance of existing applications, while delivering on customer commitments to regain stability both operationally and financially.

“Many CIOs have succeeded in stabilising their businesses and are looking to accelerate growth in the coming years,” Ekpawin outlined. “The role of the CIO will thus be critical at this stage, staying ahead of key industry trends and gearing organisations for growth and resilience in the post-pandemic landscape.”

In order to achieve this, Ekpawin advised CIOs to continuously up-skill themselves as well as co-workers to ensure Thailand is well-positioned to implement forward-looking transformations in the months ahead.

“As majority of the workforce continues working remotely in the near future, CIOs must foster a culture of digital empowerment, providing the workforce with the right mindset and tools to rethink how they can continue to drive better digital experiences for themselves and the customers seamlessly and securely,” he said.

Maximising digital opportunities

In response to the pandemic, 20 per cent of Thai organisations permanently shifted to working from home to curb the spread of Covid-19, in a move designed to keep employees safe while saving costs.

“Remote working and flexible working arrangements are here to stay,” Ekpawin acknowledged. “Last year, business leaders accelerated digital transformation plans and leveraged on digital workspace tools to enable the remote workforce. This year, business leaders will need to find new ways to engage and connect with employees in a hybrid work environment to prime businesses for further growth.”

In response, Ekpawin outlined core areas of focus for CIOs seeking to move forward with “confidence and clarity” in 2021.

“Lead with technology,” he advised. “Prior investments in virtualisation, cloud and workplace transformation helped many CIOs get a head start on their response. 2021 will be the time to continue innovating through new IT delivery models.”

For Ekpawin, the goal for CIOs is to increase organisational velocity while fuelling business results, without jeopardising future flexibility or resiliency.

“Leading edge innovations can help to define the future business state, reshape long-term customer engagement models, expand the effectiveness of employees and even define marketplaces and industries,” he said.

Secondly, Ekpawin cited the value of rethinking business continuity strategies, strategies which are generally developed for short-term disruptions with predictable outcomes and identifiable timelines.

“What is clear is that we need a new approach to business continuity planning, one that can simulate multiple scenarios from capturing, integrating and analysing organisational data,” he added.

Next up, CIOs must redefine the digital workplace by strengthening governance policies, tools and practices to ensure applications, devices and networks are secure by design. To support such an initiative, Ekpawin outlined the benefit of dismantling silos to allow Thai CIOs to continue driving strategic discussions towards building organisational resilience.

“CIOs should measure, monitor and report on the business impact of IT to build trust from leadership, stakeholders and employees,” he stated. “Also, put people first.

“Employee safety and wellbeing was a key focus for Thai organisations during the pandemic. It is important to sustain the focus on mental health with empathy, frequent communication and staff surveys. For IT staff, setting the right expectations for timelines on delivery and support will be crucial in the months ahead.”

Finally, Ekpawin challenged CIOs to shape the path ahead as Thailand embraces a hybrid workplace in which some employees will continue to regularly work remotely, shaped by a concerted shift to digital business models.

“CIOs must understand the new demands and expectations shaping this future,” he said. “While cost reduction is a priority, decisions should be made according to overall business impacts.”

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.