The binoculars represent digital farsightedness and having a macro view, with the compass representing the tool guiding technological direction and exploitation

In a world built on data, data ecosystems are not exactly the neat and tidy models experts envisioned: in fact, it is a data jungle out there.

In South-east Asia (SEA), eight in 10 consumers are now part of the digital ecosystem. Organizations are struggling to fully harness the growing tangled masses of data that have resulted—and will continue to agglomerate—from this phenomenon.

As Sandie Overtveld, Vice President and General Manager (APAC), WalkMe, so insightfully put it: “We don’t want to clear the jungle of data, but we don’t want to feel lost and succumb to its immensity either.” finds out more from him about how the challenges and solutions behind the region’s evolution into a mature data economy.

DigiconAsia: As the world converges on a data jungle, and as compliance, privacy, cybersecurity and business priorities collide and coalesce, what are some problems and opportunities for building better management data ecosystems and archetypes?

Sandie Overtveld, Vice President and General Manager (APAC), WalkMe

Sandie Overtveld (SO): With digital consumption in South-east Asia predicted to rise faster than any other region here, harnessing the data that comes along with it will be an exceptional challenge.

According to Harvard business research, components of data ecosystems include data sensing and data collection. This entails the evaluation of reliable, accurate data for collection through automated processes or feedback via application programming interfaces (APIs), for the next component of a data ecosystem: data structuring. 

A major problem that may arise is the lack of digital road-mapping that would empower an organization and its employees to leverage their technological investments. The road map should address five aspects:

    1. Data utilities that aggregate data sets and provide services
    2. Vertically-integrated operation centers that provide efficiency and optimization across the supply chain
    3. End-to-end cross-sectorial platforms that integrate partner data and offer services through a single platform
    4. Marketplace platforms that act as an intermediary between buyer and sellers
    5. Business-to-Business (B2B) infrastructures that are technology platforms where other enterprises establish their ecosystem business.

Data ecosystems are not just the overlay of infrastructure and applications—how organizations leverage such systems for actionable discernment is critical. And as data creation will rise faster than data storage capacity, organizations should be aware of insights that could be lost in the lag.

Experts have identified three reasons why the world should store more of the data it creates:

    • Data is crucial for digital resilience. As businesses become ever-more dependent on data, they must have the ability to restore that data and all operations rapidly to weather business disruptions and crises.
    • Data fuels innovation and insights. Digitally transformed companies will need the right data at the right time to develop new and innovative solutions for the future enterprise. They are quickly discovering that having more data not only helps affirm the direction they are heading in, but also creates opportunities to launch new revenue streams in seemingly saturated product portfolios.
    • Data as the pulse of trust. With the right data and tools, companies can monitor the pulse of their employees, partners, and customers to maintain the high levels of trust and empathy that ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty. Data is the source for this pulse.

DigiconAsia: Amid runaway inflation, cost issues, skills-shortages and other hurdles, what can SEA organizations do to tackle ever-increasing volumes of incoming raw data for proper modeling, analysis and insights gathering?

SO: With the rightlevel of digital transformation, SEA organizations can tap data to handle economic and human resource challenges, or at least continue to be resilient and contribute to the solution rather than be victims.

By being automated, efficient, innovative and resilient, resource-lean businesses in the region can continue to weather the challenges with data. How? By making insightful decisions based on market and customer data to pivot or reshape business strategies. For example, data can be used to pinpoint process inefficiencies or potential problems so that solutions can be deployed preemptively when resources are tight, and the business needs to buy time to find its way.

On a macro level data and analytics leaders in charge of modernizing information infrastructure should focus on the value being realized and how their efforts affect business outcomes. Part and parcel of managing a business’s data and analytics is scrutinizing technology investments. Regardless of component or archetype, the ultimate mission of enterprise data is to empower businesses to drive efficiency, innovation, compliance, and support customers and partners. The right data ecosystem can go beyond and deliver various added benefits to the enterprise.

Data analysis is precisely how to uncover where resources are being wasted or underutilized. Are employees really using all of the applications and functionalities the business is investing in? The answers lie in the data. From there, leaders can optimize spend to maximize value from technology investments across the board. Such insights can help businesses find a niche and opportunity even in challenging times—by identifying and meet customer needs that they might not even have been aware of. In this sense, they can then mold the right experiences to delight customers and partners and stay resilient. Also, the perfect use of data allows businesses to achieve their business goals without compromising user access or security.

DigiconAsia: What are the different digital adoption rates and level of maturity in SEA?

SO: South-east Asian economies are well on their way to recovery from suffering from a drawn out pandemic, but progress has not been equal, and understandably so.

Not all countries have the infrastructure or expertise to achieve recovery at the same rate. Singapore was the leading digital adopter in the region, with 70% of businesses adopting business technologies such as data analytics and visualization, while Philippines and Malaysia topped the World Economic Forum list in digital e-commerce growth.

This means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to these problems. The good news is that there is a lot of incredible technology happening in the region and the prospect of people actually adopting those technologies holds tremendous potential for positive change.

DigiconAsia thanks Sandie for sharing his insights on the region’s road to data maturity.