When we think about cloud or cloud technology, it automatically comes down to storage and that’s about it. I blame Apple and their iCloud.

From a small niche at first, cloud computing has evolved into a key strategic development driver not only for businesses, governments and pretty much everything. According to the IDC, Southeast Asia’s cloud computing market in expected to reach US$40.32 billion by 2025.

Markets like Singapore are helping this growth with the recent SG$500 million pledge from the government to help support local businesses in their digital transformation efforts.

We explore what is hybrid cloud and how it works

To find out what the future holds for the industry in Southeast Asia, we had a chance to speak to Jordan Windebank, the General Manager for Versent Asia. This Australian company just beefed up their Southeast Asian presence to take advantage of the significant potential within the region.

Find out what Jordan to share about Southeast Asia’s cloud industry.

What are some of the upcoming trends in the industry you are seeing?

The pandemic has accelerated the need for digitalisation as organisations look to engage more with their daily suppliers and service providers online, highlighting large gaps in the ability for organisations to meet their customers’ expectations. This is an evolution of survival of the fittest, where the ability to rapidly realign your business model is critical to remain competitive.

Prior to COVID-19, many organisations across Southeast Asia had delayed major digital transformation programs, as they didn’t see a clear threat of disruption from competitors trying to enter their markets. However that has changed almost overnight when the pandemic hit, as organisations’ existing sales, servicing and distribution models are no longer fit for purpose with customers staying home during lockdowns. This digital disruption, that has been very visible in industries such as financial services for a long time, has now led to companies across all industries to rethink how they engage with their customers.

As a result, this has caused an immense surge in organisations launching their digital transformation agendas across all industries in Southeast Asia, as the battle for this new breed of customer increases significantly. 

Digital transformation programs which were previously only run by large multinationals or technologically-progressive regional players are now also being rolled out across all industry segments including smaller regional and domestic organisations. 

What will be have the biggest impact out of those in Southeast Asia?

Organisations of all sizes in Southeast Asia will be looking to level the playing field. What previously required large capital investment and headcount to allow corporations to reach large numbers of customers, through physical retail outlets, or distribution channels, can now be achieved on a much smaller scale by leveraging digital technologies. This is being seen in the virtual banking space, where previously only the largest organisations in Southeast Asian markets were able to dominate their local industry, and are now under enormous threat from competitors that can offer better products and services at a much lower cost base.

Companies that have deep-roots in their own markets have a unique opportunity to design and build new digital services that their customers want. Accelerating their adoption of technology to augment their businesses will allow them to amplify their reach in to the market, whilst maintaining their unique proposition. 

Digital technologies are also providing opportunities for small and medium businesses to reach vastly increased numbers of customers, and opportunities for large companies to support these organisations. 

Even though cloud penetration is likely to increase even more in 2021, what are some of the challenges you foresee for the industry?

Organisations need to move beyond the myths of what cloud means for a business, and look at the real benefits that can be expected. This requires an understanding that adopting cloud is just one component in changing the way they look at the role technology plays in their business. Introducing the agility needed to hypothesise on what customers want, rapidly introduce new features to solutions, test them with customers, measure the result, and iterate – brings a whole new way of driving business performance.

The cloud is more than just infrastructure – it is an enabler. Simply moving applications from physical or virtual servers on to a public cloud platform rarely brings about the real benefits that are expected. One of the key benefits of adopting public cloud is being able to utilise the hundreds of native services developed by companies such as AWS and accelerating the capabilities that organisations can provide to their customers. 

A key challenge is finding the talent needed to lead and deliver these changes. The vast majority of organisations in Southeast Asia are already significantly behind in their adoption of modern technology practices that are found in developed markets. Practices such as Agile and DevOps are still not commonplace, with traditional technology application and platform teams lacking in the needed experience to navigate this new world. Organisations are going to need to look at how they attract, and retain, experienced technologists who can help them deliver these new capabilities. Whilst immediate support should be sought from global talent and professional services firms, a combined effort between governments, education providers and organisations is needed to ensure investment in local talent to meet the unprecedented demand for technology capabilities over the next decade.

Engineering practices and security are key considerations in cloud adoption. The introduction of cloud computing requires increased maturity in how technology is delivered by engineers, and demands uplift in cybersecurity practices to ensure the protection of a more complicated technical environment. As organisations provide more of their services to the public online, protecting customers’ data must be treated with adequate priority at the board and executive level – as any breach can have disastrous impact.

Which country in Southeast Asia do you think still has the most untapped potential and why?

I don’t think it is possible to focus on one specific market within Southeast Asia, as there are similar opportunities and challenges across the region – with some specific nuances in individual markets. 

There is a real opportunity for the more under-developed economies to take advantage of new technology to help spur on a wave of rapid growth. In terms of markets with the greatest potential in the next decade,  Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar are all slowly, but surely, starting to modernise their infrastructure and have a strong potential to catch up to the broader ASEAN region in a short space of time. However, access to technology talent in these markets is more difficult than the broader region.

Indonesia and the Philippines are also at the top of my list as they have a unique geographical challenge in providing goods and services to very large, under-developed, populations when relying on physical channels that can be partially solved with improvements in 5G mobile networks, digital solutions and improvements in local logistics operations. 

As for Singapore, the country is a stand out in the region as it is at the forefront of global technology adoption and will continue to develop separately to the region due to significant efforts of the government to create a technology hub, and attraction of global organisations to establish operations. Singapore stands to benefit from identifying how to export this capability to the less-developed regional countries if it can break down the cultural challenges that exist.

What’s next for Versent Asia?

Versent Asia’s main priority remains focused on the work we are already doing with our customers in the region. Currently, we are delivering some really exciting projects at the moment. These include:

  • Developing a suite of digital applications that are helping one of our largest customers unlock a whole new line of business across Southeast Asia. Having recently completed the first launch of these platforms in the Philippines, we are now focused on driving out across the region. This has been an incredible example of how the right combination of product strategy, user experience design, and technology expertise can deliver an amazing result in a rapid timeframe – and all working remotely through the pandemic. 
  • Designing, building and running of the engineering centre of excellence for a global client; building automation capabilities that allow the uplift in technology maturity across the organisation.
  • Running end to end cloud migration programmes for customers, from initial assessments across application portfolios to help customers make informed decisions about how to drive their cloud adoption strategy, through to migration of workloads. 

We are also continuing to build our team as we grow across the region. We invest heavily in finding the best talent that allows us to combine our deep experience of the regional market with a high level of technology expertise which is aimed at delivering the best business and technology outcomes to our clients.

We are also looking to deepen our relationships with key partners such as AWS and Ping Identity.