The Southeast Asia region has seen exponential growth in its digital economy in the past few years. Expected to balloon to US$300 billion by 2025, Southeast Asia’s digital economy is going at full velocity to become the next global technology powerhouse, and this is projected to continue despite the global disruptions caused by Covid-19.

A key reason propelling the region’s growth is its appetite to digitally transform. In the region, Indonesia leads as the biggest economy in Southeast Asia, driven by its dynamic e-commerce, ride-hailing and start-up culture and young tech talent. Trailing closely behind is Vietnam and Thailand who are fast ramping up their e-commerce transactions and Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines which have been performing strongly. 

But in this accelerated age of digital transformation, how can companies better adapt their IT infrastructure to transform, particularly when it comes to choosing the right data center partner? 

The hidden silver lining amid the Covid-19 pandemic

Digital transformation was previously a long-term goal for many businesses due to cost and complexity, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the urgency of its adoption, when the world went into lockdown. Over the past few months, the pandemic has changed the way we live and work, with live-streaming gaining popularity and cloud-based collaboration and conferencing tools becoming the foundation of how we work and communicate. Digital banking replaced in-person visits to banks and online shopping became the main way consumers stocked their pantries and closets. This has given rise to a myriad of opportunities but also challenges for organizations in the region.



On a deeper level, this new digital reality has sharply widened the gap between early adopters who have emerged victorious in their business continuity and resilience and laggards that are struggling to meet the challenges of their customer and employee experiences. In general, these organizations can be grouped into one of these three categories: data-driven enterprises, digitally transforming enterprises and digital newbies.

An accelerated race to meet the demands of digital transformation

Staying ahead of the curve in their digital transformation journeys are data-driven enterprises. Organizations in this category often include digitally mature organizations like government agencies that have digitally streamlined their processes for internal and external operations and financial institutions that provide digital banking and financial services. When uncertainty hit, these organizations hit the ground running and were able to thrive amid a rapidly changing landscape. They are continuously looking to enhance their digital infrastructure, scale in the cloud and deploy more cutting-edge technologies for innovation. 

Following closely behind are digitally transforming enterprises, which are typically brick and mortar businesses in the middle of their transformation journeys, with strategies in place to leverage digital and data technologies. Organizations under this category include MICE organizations offering virtual events and augmented reality to replace physical conferences, food and beverage business automating their central kitchens and offices across all sectors with some semblance of cloud collaboration. These organizations were likely caught by surprise by the pandemic and were forced to move fast to digitally transform and meet the sudden changing demands of the customer and employee experience.

Lastly, we have digital newbies who are struggling to make it to the finish line. Without a clear digital agenda or plan in mind, figuring out the how’s and what’s of digital transformation are their foremost priority. Many organizations who fit in this box are small enterprises or traditional businesses regardless of size. In the race to meet the pace of rapid digital transformation, they struggle to keep up, while data-driven and digitally transforming enterprises adapt to the digital economy with varying degrees of confidence.

Data and digital technologies are only going to be more business critical

Regardless of which stage of digital transformation your business is at, data and digital technologies are business critical. Across the board, there is a fast-growing need for data, connectivity, and bandwidth in Southeast Asia as businesses accelerate their transformation to build for a new digital future. 

Cloud is the foundation of most digital transformation strategies in organizations across the region. Its various offerings make applications quickly and conveniently available to employees and customers and enable enterprises to quickly scale up or down on compute, network, and storage capacities, in tandem with spikes in business or customer activities.

With increasingly huge amounts of data being created, shared, stored, and managed, there has never been a bigger need for transformation technologies and infrastructure to make this process as smooth and painless as possible. 

The need for the data center of the future

In driving digital transformation, it’s important that for businesses to seek out the right data center partner that can help meet their data demands – and these are some of the considerations businesses should consider: 

Solutions to grow with you: Wherever businesses are in their transformation journey, a data center that grows with them is one that understands and personalizes its solutions to fit their cloud infrastructure, business interconnectivity, employee experience and customer experience needs.

Visionary and future ready: With the rise of emerging technologies and innovations, businesses should be a looking for a partner that has the expertise and vision to explore and deploy future ready technologies including advanced analytics, robots, AI and IoT, without latency and delay.

Offers peace of mind: Given the mission-critical role of digital infrastructures, data center provider must provide all levels of security that meet the strict demands for governance, risk, and compliance management and that safeguards data securely and seamlessly across the many threats today.

Provides business continuity: During our unprecedented times, businesses have experienced the importance of business continuity and disaster recovery. A data center should be equipped with ready resources to protect business critical data.

Is green and energy efficient: A growing area of compliance is in the evolving demands and standards for green businesses. Data centers that are equipped with newer, more energy efficient equipment is a consideration for all businesses that are seeking to promote greener practices.

Enterprises have significantly more data related demands today. With the rise of the digital economy in sight, businesses need to take measures to digitally transform. At the heart of this sits a data center that can enable businesses with their data management, application uptime and real-time connectivity needs.

This article was contributed by Darren Hawkins, founder and Chief Executive Officer of SpaceDC

About the author

Darren Hawkins is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SpaceDC, the first data center in Singapore to establish a partnership with Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund (GIC). Darren is key to growing the company to become the leading partner for data center solutions across South East Asia. Currently leading the development of our first facility in Indonesia. Darren is responsible for all SpaceDC’s strategic decisions.

Darren brings with him more than 30 years of experience in the data center and critical infrastructure industries, working for clients such as ANZ, Global Switch, Toyota, HSBC, BAA, TfL and Telstra. He has a Master’s in International Finance from the University of Westminster, and a Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Planning and Design from the University of Melbourne.