Despite acknowledging the importance of data, business leaders in some surveys still cited being unprepared to reap this “limitless treasure”.

The pandemic’s impact has certainly made it more compelling for companies to go digital, with 99% of APAC businesses reporting that they faced external pressures to undergo digital transformation. As contact with technology grows, businesses are also generating, and engaging with increasing quantum of data. This technological revolution is what many deem as the Data Age.

The idea that the amount of data in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region will increase by 4.3x in the next five years, is unfathomable. More than three-fourths of business leaders in China and Japan recognize that data’s value and volume will grow in the next five years, whereas 60% of Australian business and IT managers expect their data volume to grow by 5.9 times by 2025, making it the fastest growth across APAC.

The Data Age is the advent of data-driven operations and decision-making harnessed via six emerging technologies, namely the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), 5G, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), blockchain, and edge computing. With this explosion of data, we are innovating on an unprecedented scale.

Data is now more accessible and appreciated than ever before, with a new study reporting a strong majority of business leaders recognize that data is extremely or very valuable to their organization’s overall success (81%), innovation (75%) and cybersecurity (78%).

5G as an enabler

One of the six Data Age technologies, 5G, is developing at warp speed, with APAC being identified as home to some of the world’s most advanced adopters. The region is projected to account for 65% of global 5G subscriptions by 2024. Also, 5G with AI, IoT and Edge Computing are key enablers for Industry 4.0, a component of national digital transformation blueprints in markets including Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia.

5G is a promising technology as it has the shortest implementation timeline of all six technologies (2.6 years) and was viewed by 31% of respondents as a solution to dark data challenges. Splunk uncovered that 60% of IT and business managers planned to use 5G in the future. With speeds 100 times faster than 4G, 5G technology will create a more connected world that even the most underserved populations can tap into and participate in.

Not all businesses are ready

That said, a whopping 86% of business leaders have shared that their businesses were unprepared for the Data Age, with 53% of respondents citing that their organizations were not preparing for these new technologies and the steady and sudden increase in data.

First, businesses need to ensure that data is optimally organized, managed and leveraged. It is key to maintain an inventory of the data your organization holds: where they come from, what type of data and the opportunities and potential these data have to offer. This will create the foundation for a data-driven tomorrow.

Then, companies need to build a data strategy from their business strategy. An organization’s ongoing digital transformation and its arrival in the Data Age, will be driven by business needs. Businesses can incorporate these into their 5-year business road map and make provisions for effectively-leveraging data across the organization, be it to deliver seamless operations within the company, achieve excellent customer experience or implement measures to improve efficiency and productivity.

It is also essential develop cybersecurity capabilities to protect customer data. APAC is earmarked as one of the most vulnerable regions to cybersecurity attacks, with data breaches and phishing and malware attacks in 2019 causing around 23% of businesses to fall victim to cyber breaches that cost them more than US$2.5 million. As there is almost zero tolerance to data breaches and leaks, organizations need to dial up their cyber resilience capabilities as they ramp up digitalization efforts.

Last but not least, organizations need to approach data holistically instead of keeping them in silos. They can develop standardized tools, processes and skills that can be deployed across the organization, and empower employees to manage and use data assets all across the organization as micro-decisions made have a macro impact on business outcomes and can help drive transformation.

Rewarding journey ahead

In Australia, Splunk facilitated an IT organization supporting healthcare services to pivot over 70% of the workforce (40,000 employees) to a remote-working model, leading to an exponential uptick in virtual systems. Faced with the need for expanded capacities quickly and safely, the organization was able to undergo the transition by monitoring, analyzing and data. This not only helped to build resilience, but also improved productivity levels among employees.

Immense rewards await businesses that harness the power of data strategically and holistically, as this would allow them to stay ahead of the competition and remain resilient amid these uncertain times.

Data now is part and parcel of how people live, work, play and everything in between. The choice is now on organizations’ hands to make something valuable and impactful out of it.