Community Blog Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 1: What Is Digital Transformation?

Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 1: What Is Digital Transformation?

Part 1 of this 8-part series defines digital and business transformation in Southeast Asian countries.

By Shantanu Kaushik

Digital transformation is not only about adopting technological solutions within a business or opening up doors for online business. Different parts of the world have different business specifications and different business patterns they adopt to conduct business. This 8-part article series primarily focuses on:

  • Digital transformation and what it entails for businesses in Southeast Asian countries
  • Business transformation and its layers
  • Major and minor shifts in practices and business impact
  • Cultural shift and the significant impact the shift imposes
  • Defining the counterparts and their adoption for digital transformation
  • The journey of a spice manufacturer from direct retail to an enterprise provision

What Does Digital Transformation Mean?

Digital Transformation is a practice that redefines how organizations conduct business and affairs. There are no set parameters or a checklist that defines the journey. There are no set practices you can finish to say, “We are digitally transformed.”

Digital Transformation is an ongoing process, a continuous adaptive shift to keep your business practices close to the latest trends and practices to ensure business productivity and innovation. We talk about innovation, but what is innovation? There is rarely a business that innovates so much that they climb up the transformational ladder to achieve success overnight.

Innovation is a steady ladder you climb at an even and constant pace to make changes regularly to run an optimal cycle. This management and deliverance are what ensure innovation within your digital transformation journey.

Is It a Plug-and-Play Model?

Digital Transformation entails business transformation, and every business is unique. Every business has different core practices and business models. There are no plug-and-play models for digital transformation.

The main question is, “How do you define digital transformation?” It is not about setting up an e-commerce platform or selling your products online. It is not about implementing an in-house digital infrastructure and keeping your account books online. The core aspect that most people miss out on is the characterization of endpoints and starting points of your business process. There are different departmental counterparts and mechanisms that make up an organization. It mostly consists of:

  • Top-Level Administration
  • Mid-Level Management
  • Working Staff
  • Accounts
  • Establishment (HR)
  • CRM
  • Purchase
  • Retail and Sales
  • Supply Chain
  • Marketing

There could be more branches of your business based on the trade and association you follow, but the hierarchy starts with these departments.

“Digital Transformation is about opting for a method or workflow that comprises a digital solution to counteract any complexities from the branches listed above. It is about enabling seamless and easy workflow for these departments. It is about enabling a strong communication and collaboration bridge between these departments to assemble a work culture far superior and adaptive than what you already have.”

Digital Transformation for Southeast Asian Countries

Businesses operating in Southeast Asia have been the backbone of the world economy. These businesses and organizations have been working for decades as the providers of the workforce, raw materials, and infrastructure equipment for organizations worldwide.

Businesses in Southeast Asia have primarily focused on the traditional methods of conducting transactions. These transactions could be anything, including purchasing, manufacturing, or a supply chain. Different aspects of the underlying business process haven’t changed in decades and the process these businesses follow does indeed work. Well, if it had not worked for them, we wouldn’t have known about most big enterprises of the west.

Current Work Scenario

According to IDC, “30% of organizations will increase innovation and reinvent their business model in order to future-proof their business.”

However, digital transformation occurs, and the journey associated with each organization has something interesting associated with it. As stated above, we cannot create a digital transformation handbook to follow, and there is no plug-and-play model.

As the common saying goes with businesses of these regions, there could be multi-trillionaires conducting business based on century-old methods from books and ink. These organizations do not have a frontend. They operate behind the scenes and are very efficient.

Why Do These Businesses Require Transformation?

The answer to this question is simple. Any business depends on supply and workforce. Lately, a lot depends on automation and technology, but these organizations are used to working with infrastructure. Here, the word basic does not mean chisel and grind; it means a limited infrastructure to get by and get the work done.

With time, these organizations and businesses have upgraded themselves to be in sync with the changing times. Upgradation occurs because their competition is upgrading or their supply channel has upgraded already, and they require some form of upgradation to facilitate the same amount of throughput.

There is a very fine baseline of what is necessary that businesses must follow to maintain a systematic approach to yield productivity and better results. This article series encompasses a business cycle that has held its ground for the better half of the century. Now, it has to shift to adopt innovations and adapt to the changing business flows.

Continued in Part 2

Part 2 will discuss the first set of challenges business owners face while strategizing digital transformation for their enterprises. Then, it will discuss the focus points for a strong strategy that encompasses the core business values and requirements. We will continue discussing how an enterprise can start its digital transformation journey and work at optimal levels.

Upcoming Articles

  1. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 2: Challenges and Focus Areas
  2. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 3: An Introduction to Buttercup Spices
  3. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 4: The Strategy
  4. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 5: Application Migration
  5. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 6: Resource Planning and Networking
  6. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 7: Building a Smarter Supply Chain
  7. Seeding Digital Transformation in Southeast Asia – Part 8: Introducing AI for Better Workflow
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