Lack of strategic alignment between CIOs and senior IT personnel over development speeds may be a barrier to digital transformation progress. 

In the latest survey results of CIOs and IT managers of companies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region about the current state of digital transformation within the respondents’ organizations, findings show that APAC businesses have made progress in their digital transformation efforts, but there is still much work to be done, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA).

The data also shows significant barriers to further progress, including IT cultural disconnects and slow delivery speed, with CIOs citing more aggressive timelines using slower development tools than those favored by their IT teams.

In the survey of APAC organizations commissioned by development platform vendor Apian, nearly half of all respondents (48%) report their organizations are steadily implementing digital transformation, while 7% are piloting projects, and another 12% are currently scaling up pilot programs. Some 20% report being fully deployed. The top drivers for digital transformation include improved agility (81%), customer experience (62%), innovation (58%) and increased automation (53%). IT is well-aligned on these goals, although CIOs prize CX improvements much more highly than their IT teams—74% versus 54%. Additionally, almost all respondents report one or more intelligent automation (IA) systems are deployed today, including:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) – 69%
  • Business Process Management (BPM) – 56%
  • Robotic Process Management (RPA) – 48%
  • Machine Learning – 44% 
  • Chatbots – 29%

However, APAC organizations still have more work to do when it comes to their digital transformation, with 64% of respondents reporting plans for new AI and RPA deployments in the next 12 months. And, CIOs anticipate even more aggressive timeline versus their colleagues in other IT roles in delivering these deployments.

Mounting pressures 

APAC IT teams report facing a number of challenges in achieving business outcomes, including organizational culture (52%), meeting desired speed of delivery (50%), customer demand (45%), skills gaps and shortages (43%), and pressure to adopt AI, RPA and analytics (43%). 

IT teams are also feeling the pressure from other organizational issues such as:

  • Risk management concerns – 47%
  • Legacy technologies – 44%
  • Limited resources to train/recruit staff – 42%
  • Uncertainty about required financial investment – 42%
  • Change management concerns – 41%
  • Adapting to new technologies – 38%
  • Ability to meet deadlines – 28%

Significant barriers 

Despite the combination of these many pressures, as well as CIOs’ plan for aggressive timelines to deploy IA technologies in the next 12 months, 46% of CIOs also stated they anticipate a future shift towards slower fully custom coding. The CIOs’ responses contrasted with those of their IT colleagues, who in the face of these issues expect to continue the steady use of faster and easier to use low-code development tools. 

This lack of strategic alignment shows there is a major disconnect between the business goals of CIOs versus the priorities of their colleagues in senior IT roles. It creates a barrier for the success of their organization’s digital transformation progress, particularly considering the pressure to integrate IA systems is expected to continue ramping up at a rapid rate. 

Lack of alignment on the best path forward

A move to fully custom coding would only accentuate the many challenges—cultural resistance, speed of delivery, customer demand, skills gap and resource shortages, and ability to meet deadlines—IT departments already report they are faced with as a result of digital transformation and desired business outcomes. 

In complete contrast to fully custom code development, enterprise low-code development platforms help organizations accelerate application creation with robust but easy-to-use drag-and-drop visual design tools. They provide IT and business teams a collaborative environment to easily translate ideas into software applications quickly and get applications and features to market faster without compromising on quality, performance or experience. Such platforms also have intelligent automation capabilities that allow organizations to easily integrate emerging technologies such as RPA, AI and machine learning.

Said Karen Astley, Vice President of Asia-Pacific at Appian: “Software is defining the future of how work gets done, and all organizations, and departments within these, must become aligned to accelerate IT delivery of new applications and integration of emerging technologies. However, it is important that this is done without sacrificing quality or heightening the challenges and issues already being felt, which could pose a significant risk to digital transformation advancement.”