Holistic approach imperative to digital transformation: Red Hat

  • Mobility only a part in digital transformation; comprehensive thinking needed
  • Three Asean countries lack skill sets in mobile app development; Malaysia most acute


Holistic approach imperative to digital transformation: Red Hat


MALAYSIAN organisations embarking on digital transformation initiatives must embrace a holistic strategy that encompasses the deployment of a gamut of ideas and should not just approach it on a piecemeal basis, cautioned open source software giant Red Hat Inc.

Speaking to the media after revealing a new study on enterprise mobility recently, Red Hat vice president and general manager for Asean Damien Wong (pic, bottom right) said the term digital transformation is being bandied about so much these days and companies are so keen to embrace it that they may not be approaching the process correctly.

“People talk about Grab, Uber, and Airbnb and how the industries associated with those companies are being disrupted by these companies,” he said, referring to how Grab, Uber Technologies Inc have transformed the transportation industry and Airbnb Inc has similarly done so in the hospitality industry.

Holistic approach imperative to digital transformation: Red HatWong argued that many enterprises today want to transform themselves digitally to stay relevant to the market and compete with these digital natives. Banks, he said, want to compete with financial technology (fintech) companies, and telcos with over-the-top (OTT) operators.

But the challenge Red Hat sees is that while mobility is an important element to support digital transformation, it isn’t the “be all and end all of digital transformation,” Wong argued.

The trouble is, there are Malaysian companies who perceive this to be the case,” he related.

“I’ve spoken to some Malaysian companies, which told me that [implementing] an enterprise mobility application is what their digital transformation initiatives are all about.

“[Doing so] is myopic in our view. Digital transformation is holistic and you have to take into consideration more than just enterprise mobility – you have to think about technologies such as cloud, big data analytics in conjunction with how you apply that to mobility,” Wong explained.

Wong said insights from big data analytics, for example, should be applied to a mobile use case so that you can drive value for an organisation quickly. Focusing just on the mobile application alone, means that enterprises are going to miss out on all the other elements of digital transformation, Wong added.

“I would caution Malaysian companies looking at digital transformation not to just focus solely on enterprise mobility,” he stressed. “We think this is what local companies should be mindful of because we’re hearing a couple of companies saying this and they are not seeing the full picture.”

Holistic approach imperative to digital transformation: Red HatGerald Khor (pic, right), head of business development for Mobile at Red Hat Asia Pacific, concurred and added that digital transformation is about assessing information both at the front and back ends.

Mobile is just the front end to interface with customers and information still has to traverse back and forth between the front and back, such as an interface with an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, he added.

“Looking at digital transformation holistically also means that companies can innovate with speed and scale,” he argued. “To do this effectively, you’ll need other technologies such as cloud, big data and mobility working in concert with each other.”

Skill set shortage

The survey entitled The Maturing Mobile Journey for Enterprises was commissioned by Red Hat and conducted by research firm IDC via a phone survey in the second half of 2016 across three countries in Asean, namely Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The data was culled from interviews of 275 senior IT decision makers in organisations that employed more than 500 staff and which have a dedicated IT team focused on mobile.

Questions posed included, among other things, insights related to mobile enterprise application strategy, budgeting, technology considerations as well as implementation challenges.

Some of the general findings noted that most organisations in all three countries are beginning to or have already embraced mobility, and consider it to be an integral and transformative element for their businesses.

Factors that influence organisations’ mobility implementations include improving customer experience, gaining a competitive advantage and improving employee productivity.

Enterprises surveyed indicated that their top 3 mobility initiatives for the next 12 to 24 months include the launch line of business applications (workflow or process management, document management); the launch or increase of the number of company issued smartphones/ tablets; and the launch of horizontal business applications such as ERP, sales force automation, business intelligence and customer relationship management (CRM).

One of the more significant findings revealed by Wong was that 53% of those surveyed preferred using an outsourced provider when developing and deploying mobile applications while 47% choose to build them in-house.

Wong said more organisations in Asean lean towards outsourcing the development work to an external provider, but the difference isn’t that big across the three countries surveyed.

More alarming was that fact that acquiring the right skill set to build, develop and deploy mobile applications was a challenge across the region, with nearly 50% of organisations having minimal or contracted skills to support mobile projects, Wong noted.

This challenge is most acute in Malaysia, where 60% of Malaysian organisations have minimal or contracted resources for mobile projects, the data indicated.

When asked why this was so for Malaysia and what can be done to address this skill shortage, Wong said he can’t comment directly as to why it was like that today.

“I think this is a recognised gap and that there is a shortage of ICT relevant professionals in Malaysia based on what I’ve been finding out from relevant agencies in Malaysia.

“These agencies are trying to address this by investing and creating programmes to encourage people to skill up, and that there are programmes put in place to address the situation,” he said, without naming which agencies he was referring to.

Khor noted that the rapid development of mobile apps have somewhat created a shortage of skilled people in the market. He added that unlike web development, which is far more standardised, mobile development is more fragmented and develops at a faster pace.

“Mobile app development has to cater to different operating systems such as iOS and Android,” Khor argued. “The mobile ecosystem is changing dynamically and there are no fixed standards compared to web app development, and this is a challenge to really develop the app.”

Khor said this is why Red Hat’s platform approach to mobile app development is helpful, he claimed.

“Malaysian organisations are looking to adopt mobility in a bigger way, and this is where having a platform approach is going to benefit companies, he argued. “A platform allows developers to not have to reinvent certain underlying services. Having a platform to leverage toolkits can speed up development and reduces reliance on resources.”

Other findings

The Red Hat survey across Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia also revealed the following figures:

  • 33% Singaporean organisations have a vision and roadmap for mobility;
  • 33% Indonesian organisations consider mobility important to their business but are resource-constrained;
  • 40% align mobility with their organisation’s overall vision and goals, with banks at the forefront of mobile adoption;
  • 76% either have budgets in place or plan to invest in mobile application projects within the next 24 months;
  • 58% plan to deploy between one and five mobile applications within the next 24 months;
  • 13% currently use some form of a mobile application platform to develop and manage their mobile application portfolio; and
  • 36% are not aware of the mobile application platform technologies currently available in the market, despite the fact that data security and integration with legacy systems were ranked as the top two challenges for organisations deploying mobile applications.


Related stories:

Maybank sees mobile banking transactions growing over 50%

Enterprise mobile developers stuck in old mindset: Analyst

Gartner identifies five domains for the digital platform


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