How businesses can use shadow IT to achieve digital transformation
Organisations that learn from shadow IT, rather than trying to suppress it, are more likely to succeed in today’s disruptive environment, according to cloud computing company Fronde.
Organisations that are not openly disruptive can experience covert disruption in the form of shadow IT, which is when IT systems and solutions are built and used inside an organisation without explicit organisational approval.
A recent Gartner report suggests shadow IT regularly surpasses 30 per cent of a company’s IT spend. The rise of shadow IT has been fuelled by a combination of the growth of BYOD and an increasing millennial workforce, creating demand for easy, on-the-go IT solutions that deliver immediate results.
James Valentine, CTO, Fronde, said, “Shadow IT is another form of digital transformation by stealth. If employees are implementing technology without the IT team’s involvement, or if the IT team is viewed as a roadblock to innovation, it risks being disintermediated by its own organisation.
“IT professionals can react in a variety of ways. From what we’ve seen, those that surrender to the business are trying to deal with the aftermath of new and unsanctioned business applications. This can include integration issues and security risks that create many hours of work to remediate.
“Those that deny the issue and hold the line with process and policy are being bypassed in important IT decisions. Some, however, have pushed through the necessary changes and have built an enviable digital platform, influenced by the shadow IT and underpinned by modern tools, processes, and capabilities.”
Teams that use the learnings of shadow IT to build a customised digital platform for their business can be more successful than their counterparts. This is because the shadow IT mindset encourages IT professionals to be more agile and responsive to the business and customer’s needs. Integrating the skills of staff across the business can also reduce the burden on the IT team. The extra assistance and innovative perspectives can help the business achieve faster turnaround times than if external contractors are involved, and enables faster go-to-market strategies.
James Valentine, said, “Organisations shouldn’t surrender to or ignore shadow IT; rather, they should leverage it to bring new solutions forward. IT teams should be the best-equipped in a business to help with technology transformation.
“By starting small and growing a modern, agile DevOps practice you can bring your team and the business along on a successful IT transformation journey. This mentality can help you find the best solutions and bring the best technology and platforms to your business to enhance daily operations and productivity.”
Fronde recommended businesses also mitigate risk by updating their acceptable usage policies, incorporating trends such as home working and BYOD. Businesses should encourage employees to adopt and get the most out of the business tools of choice in a secure and productive manner. This lets the organisation think innovatively and simultaneously manage security risks.
Why Alibaba Cloud is doubling down in Southeast Asia
Alibaba has announced expansion of its cloud business within Southeast Asia, with the introduction of a digital upskilling programme for locals alongside acceleration of its data centre openings.
This doubling down of its cloud business in Southeast Asia comes as the company faces stiff competition at home in China from rivals including Pinduoduo Inc and Tencent and seeks to up its game in a region considered to be the fastest-growing in cloud adoption to compete with leading global cloud providers AWS, Google and Microsoft.
Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and second biggest revenue driver after its core e-commerce business, finally turned profitable for the first time in the December 2020 following 11 years of operation, thanks largely to the pandemic which has spurred businesses and consumers to get online.
Southeast Asia growing demand for cloud
In 2020, there was a noticeable increase in interest towards cloud in SE Asia, with the population embracing digital transformation during the pandemic and SMEs across the region showing increased demand for cloud computing.
Such demand has led to the expectation that Southeast Asia is now the fastest-growing adopter of cloud computing with the cloud market expected to reach US$40.32bn in Southeast Asia by 2025 according to IDC.
And there are plenty of players vying for a slice of the cloud pie. While AWS, the cloud arm of Amazon, is the leading player in Southeast Asia (and across all of APAC apart from China), Microsoft and Google are the next two most dominant players in Southeast Asia with Alibaba coming in fourth.
“There is no doubt that during the past year we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation efforts across all industries,” explains Ahmed Mazhari, President, Microsoft Asia. “Asia now accounts for 60% of the world’s growth and is leading the global recovery with the digitalization of business models and economies. Cloud will continue to be a core foundation empowering the realization of Asia’s ambitions, enabling co-innovation across industries, government and community, to drive inclusive societal progress.”
Alibaba’s commitment to Southeast Asia
At its annual Alibaba Cloud Summit, the Chinese company announced Project AsiaForward, an initiative designed to upskill local developers, small-to-medium-sized companies and connect businesses with venture capital. Alibaba said it would set aside US$1bn over the next three years to develop digital skills in the region, with the aim of helping to develop 100,000 developers and to help grow 100,000 tech startups.
But that’s not all. The company, which recently opened its third data centre in Indonesia, serving customers with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services, also announced it would unveil its first data centre in the Philippines by the end of 2021.
Furthermore, that it would establish its first international innovation centre, located in Malaysia, offering a one-stop shop platform for Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers to innovate in emerging technologies.
“We are seeing a strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from e-commerce and logistics platforms to FinTech and online entertainment. As the leading cloud service provider and trusted partner in APAC, we are committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure,” says Jeff Zhang, President, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence.
What other cloud providers are pledging in the region
This pledge by Alibaba to upskill both individuals and businesses follows Microsoft’s announcement in April that it was planning to upskill Malaysia’s population and would invest US$1bn over the next five years to build a new data centre centre in Malaysia.
This is the latest in a long line of pledges to the region by the US tech giant, which is fast accelerating the growth of its cloud datacenter footprint in Asia, expanding form seven 11 markets, and recently adding three new markets across Asia – Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. Back in February, it announced plans to establish its first datacenter region in Indonesia and to skill an additional 3 million Indonesians to achieve its goal of empowering over 24 million Indonesians by the end of 2021.
And recent research by IDC shows that Microsoft’s most recent datacenter expansions in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan alone are set to generate more than US$21bn in new revenues and will create 100,000 new jobs in the next four years.
Also last month, Tencent announced it has launched internet data centres in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo to add to its second availability zone opened in Korea last year and plans to add an internet data center in Indonesia, and Google has also been pushing into the enterprise space in Southeast Asia for several years now.
Expanding data centers allows cloud providers to boost their capacity in certain countries or regions.