In true Asian culture, many turn to astrology and even fortune tellers to seek direction or assurance in uncertain times.
When we look at Asia’s progress in recent years, the region has gone through a major evolution – from its rise to becoming a global economic powerhouse to a leader in technology and innovation. This progression has brought about many opportunities for Asia but it has also disrupted business models and operations. While companies are excited about the possibilities as the region continues to grow, this digital disruption has also highlighted many uncertainties and challenges.
In foretelling the future of technology adoption and how it drives business transformation, F5 Networks pays homage to astrology and envisions twelve key predictions (horoscope readings) that define the new Asia digital economy.
1. Aries: Arians are courageous and brave: the same qualities that inspire Asia’s liberal approach to technology adoption and innovation
Asia is gaining reputation as one of the most liberal adopters of innovative technologies. The region is already ahead of its peers with when it comes to the adoption and integration of business centric technologies such as cloud computing and big data analytics. We can expect Asia to continue to not only lead but also drive diverse implementation of technologies such as mobile payment, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things.
In the new few years, the hypercompetitive environment in Asia will further drive businesses to be more open to new technological trends that will address business challenges and opportunities. In Southeast Asia, the rise of the start-up scene will specifically force traditional big-players to innovate and adapt in order to keep up with the speed and agility of these new business communities and models.
2. Taurus: Taureans’ sharp and tactical outlook will be reflected through Asia’s strategic investments, especially in sales and marketing functions which focus on customer engagement
Investments in workplace digitalization will rise in Asia, especially so in the business functions of sales and marketing. The region’s leadership in mobility and connectivity will unlock key opportunities for these departments to gain essential, real-time connectivity with their customers powered through the means of mobile and applications. Analytics functions will also offer a wealth of big data to help predict customer behavior and tailor unique products and engagements.
3. Gemini: Geminis’ flexibility is a trait much-needed by CIOs, as their roles continue to evolve and require more versatility
Armed with the responsibility of taking on a more strategic role in shaping the direction of the business, CIOs will be required to be more flexible and resourceful in tackling the biggest shortage of IT skills in Asia since 2008.
Under-resourced and under-funded, their digital strategies will be challenged to keep up with the fast-paced Asian momentum. More so than ever, companies will need to ensure resource and infrastructure availability to support their digital strategies and engagements. cloud-based applications will emerge as a crucial tool that empowers the efficiencies of businesses and allows CIOs to be versatile in their efforts. By migrating to cloud, businesses’ IT services can be managed centrally and maintained at a lower operating cost, as compared to spending security budgets on hiring a suite of specialty IT personnel to maintain a dedicated, locally-managed security infrastructure.
4. Cancer: Just like the assertive and intuitive Cancerian, companies in Asia will continue getting better at anticipating their customers’ needs
Anticipating what customers need, when they need and what they need will be the new normal. Customer engagement will be basis of all technology adoptions and innovations which determines CIO’s digital investment budgets.
Today, with the combination of digitally empowered consumers and always-on connectivity, customers' expectations for businesses have changed dramatically. Testament to this, research has shown that applications that fail to deliver a positive user experience risk losing about a third of their customer base for businesses in the region.
Businesses will have a unique opportunity to sustain competitive advantage when they understand that mobility and the application ecosystem are not only tools to drive innovation, but enablers of growth. In this regard, F5 has been working with companies here in Asia to ensure that they are empowered to navigate application delivery challenges to deliver seamless user experience and engagement.
5. Leo: Leos are natural born leaders: Asia’s upcoming leadership bench will be increasingly involved in shaping IT decisions
With workplace digital strategies transforming all functions of business models, line of business (LOB) units will increasingly take a front seat in technology initiatives in the workplace as they become more involved with business process transformation. In fact according to IDC, close to half of worldwide corporate IT spending will be funded by non-IT business units by 2019
As cloud platforms and application deployment become increasingly intertwined among Asian businesses, another key decision maker also emerges – app developers. With better alignment and knowledge on the end user experience, app developers will work more closely alongside LOB units in shaping a company’s cloud decisions.
6. Virgo: In times of economic uncertainty, Virgos’ qualities of intelligence and reliability will guide CIOs in balancing agility with prudence
Ranked 6th globally for innovation, there is a pressure for Asia to consistently evolve, innovate and push boundaries. The region’s population growth aligned with emerging business segments indicate the need for companies to react and address business opportunities and needs.
The true agility and competitive edge lie where businesses can easily, quickly and securely deploy and scale apps to pivot towards new market opportunities and meet customer demands in a moment’s notice. In this process, legacy IT infrastructure may act as major barriers to achieving the digital transformation necessary for an agile business, and enterprises will begin to realize the full potential of the cloud as they use it to enable completely new scenarios beyond efficiency and cost savings to enable successes even amidst an uncertain economy.
7. Libra: The perceptive Libran temperament is just what Asia needs to shape its cybersecurity strategy, at a time when the region is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks
Cybersecurity is a key issue in Asia Pacific. As the rapid adoption of technology is outpaces the availability of adequate cyber defenses. 2016 was marked by a series of prominent cyber-attacks, including the DDoS attack on Dyn, which brought down some of the biggest sites on the Web. Attacks are no longer an ‘if’, but ‘when’.
Mobility has changed the game and there is almost an app for everything. That’s where the danger begins – F5 Networks’ research has found that 72 percent of breaches are from attacks on the app. Data is accessible from devices over which application providers have no control and from locations and networks that are out of their reach. Against sophisticated cybercriminals, a successful security strategy delivers visibility into all application traffic, enhancing a company’s security portfolio with additional layers of intelligence that protects organizations’ most critical assets, identities and applications.
8. Scorpio: As Asia’s biggest group of movers and shakers, the millennials are perfect examples of Scorpios’ dynamism and ambition
Asia has the highest population of millennials, making up almost 60 percent of the global millennial population. Millennials are driven by flexibility and engagement. Companies have to re-examine and reinvent themselves to cater to the demands of this mobile-savvy generation. This means the ability to engage and communicate with them anytime, anywhere. With millennials, it is also all about experiences. Virtual and augmented realities will be prioritized as businesses will look to offer innovative experiences to speak to millennials who often have short attention spans.
9. Sagittarius: Freedom and flexibility are not just synonymous with Sagittarians: they also reflect our need for agility, security and intelligence in today’s digital economy
More APAC senior executives are prepared for their organizations to undergo vast digital transformation in the next two years. While they might be driven by the endless possibilities this digital transformation will bring, they are also well aware of getting the fundamentals right.
These fundamentals will include the need to have visibility into the infrastructure so as to deploy and manage application services more easily, a single platform that accommodates business needs and maximize operational efficiency.
10.Capricorn: Just like resourceful Capricorns, CIOs will need to juggle the region-wide IT talent shortage with significant growth in customers’ demand for automation and outsourcing models
69 percent of CIOs in Asia believe a lack of talent will prevent their organization from keeping up with the pace of change. Competition for a finite pool of advanced IT talent will peak in Asia as workplace technologies grow increasingly sophisticated. Amidst stricter budget and spending, key trends that will emerge include the rise of the outsourcing model, and the increased demand for automation. Working in partnership with trusted third-party IT service providers will allow CIOs to focus on leveraging new technologies and free up resources to implement these forward-looking projects. The IT talent crisis will also generate a demand for more automation of security through intelligent applications and machine learning.
11. Aquarius: Inventiveness and an unconventional mindset – the hallmarks of Aquarians – will be key in driving Asia’s dynamic telecommunications sector
The telecommunications sector will see the most innovative adoption of technology in Asia, given the competitiveness of the industry. Connected devices today have opened a whole range of mobile applications such as payments, retail, transportation and enterprise collaboration seamless data connectivity is now a must-have for consumers in order to access these capabilities. Fast-growing data consumption and the rising importance of network quality is likely to see competition intensifying in India, Singapore and Malaysia, with new players offering cheaper tariffs to poach customers from incumbents. With various pressure points, Asian telcos will need take aggressive and progressive approaches to winning market share by supporting the demands of the network without compromising security and performance.
Payment models ranging from mobile to chat apps will be the key pillar of digital transformation in ecommerce. Today, over a third of online transactions are now is made through mobile, with Asian payment methods such as Alipay driving the strongest growth. Asia is characterized by its highly diversified business models and as consumers continue to seek more seamless and convenient engagements, we can also expect digital payment to consistently reinvent itself.
 Asia Cloud Computing Association, 2016 Cloud Readiness Index
 IDC, IDC Research Shows Asia/Pacific Organizations Fast Progressing in their Big Data and Analytics Readiness
 Wall Street Journal, Southeast Asia Startup Scene is Sunny, Investors Say
 IDC, IDC Forecasts 70% of Enterprises in Southeast Asia Will Adopt Hybrid Cloud