In Australia and New Zealand, 63% are using AI to optimize data, but being digitally ready isn't just about adopting new technologies.

In Australia and New Zealand, 63% are using AI to optimize data, but being digitally ready isn’t just about adopting new technologies.

Are APAC companies digitally ready? It’s a mixed bag, says survey

  • Globally, 83% say that remote workers increase security risks
  • Worrying, only 56% of companies have changed security strategies
  • India has the highest adoption of zero-trust security practices
  • Singapore respondents adopt new tech for “increased competitiveness” and “reliability”
  • In Australia and New Zealand, 63% are using AI to optimize data

The Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted and completely transformed the way organizations function — so are companies digitally ready to deal with the challenges and opportunities? 

As IT departments started deploying new technologies, upgrading existing solutions, and keeping a distributed workforce secure, new challenges arose, especially when it comes to security linked to remote working.

A global survey by ManageEngine sought to find out the effects of remote working on cloud usage and organizational security. It also investigated trends related to AI, business analytics, and technology adoption by users across the US, Canada, UK, and the Asia Pacific.

A total of 1,210 qualified executives and technology professionals were polled — and all participants were directly responsible for IT and procuring business technologies.

The lowdown on being digitally ready

8 out of 10 IT professionals report that the pandemic has led to an increase in cloud usage. 83% of respondents revealed that remote workers increase security risks. Only 56% of companies have changed their security strategy—despite remote employees being directly targeted more often.

The popularity of AI continues to flourish with 81% of organizations reporting that their confidence in AI has grown over the last two years. Due to the pandemic, technology professionals are increasingly prioritizing cloud security, VPN usage, and remote worker support.

Cloud reliance is increasing

Globally, Cloud customers are looking for improved security, performance, and reliability from cloud solutions — with 96% of companies saying they will be sticking to remote working for at least the next two years.

India is the only region where public and private cloud usage was among the top three skills acquired during the pandemic, with 97% of organizations reporting that their reliance on cloud had increased, compared to the global figure of 83%.

Private cloud was the top-learned skill in Singapore, with 50% of respondents equipping themselves with knowledge about private cloud. 86% of respondents say their organization’s reliance on the cloud has increased, compared to the global figure of 83%.

However, in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), 42% of respondents stated that ‘improved compliance’ will increase their organizations’ confidence in cloud-based solutions. When asked about the new tech-related skills learned due to the pandemic situation, only 22% of respondents chose compliance.

Is security a bottleneck to being digitally ready?

Security threats have increased, making it difficult for many organizations to handle phishing, malware, and other network endpoint attacks. Admittedly, 83% of respondents believe that remote workers increase security risks.

However, 78% of companies fail to control applications and services employees use — only 56% have adopted a security strategy for remote workers. 52% of organizations report that phishing attacks have increased due to the pandemic.

Only 30% had to learn about VPN in India — well below the global average of 35%. However, 48% of companies have implemented zero trust networks, as opposed to the global figure of 31%.

Security and remote worker support were among the top three acquired skills in Singapore. However, online meeting tools and mobile apps are particularly likely to be purchased without IT team approval, similar to India. 

In ANZ, roughly 48% believe that social media-based attacks were the most common, and only 37% of respondents stated that implementing a zero-trust network model was a key security action adopted by their company.

AI and analytics bearing fruit

IT teams are increasingly relying on AI-based tools and analytics software (89% globally) to inform their business decisions. 64% of organizations have reported using business analytics to improve decision-making.   

Respondents in India resoundingly think AI will meet business expectations, with 91% saying that confidence in AI has increased over the last two years. 93% of Indian respondents say AI has delivered measurable business results—compared to 71% globally. 

Notably, Indian respondents have experienced improved customer experience, operational efficiency, and business analytics. Interestingly, competition and profitability are driving the usage of business analytics in India, something not seen as much in other regions.

In Singapore, “increased competitiveness” and “reliability” were key factors leading to the adoption of new technologies, more than respondents from any other region. Desiring better decision-making, top reasons for increased analytics use include using available data (69% vs 61% globally), and more efficient and faster decision-making.

In ANZ, 63% of respondents are using AI to make the most of their available data. 89% of the respondents believe that the use of business analytics in their companies increased over the last two years.

Being digitally ready is not just about adopting tech

Remote working is not going away — and according to 83% of workers and experts, a hybrid work model incorporating both remote and on-site work is expected to be the new norm in the near future.

With this in mind, it is imperative that companies ensure that their adoption of technologies such as cloud and AI is well-supplemented by strong and robust cybersecurity practices.

One way is to adopt better cybersecurity practices such as zero-trust, identity-first security, privacy-enhancing computation, and using breach and attack simulation (BAS) tools, among others.

A zero-trust strategy is a necessary proactive approach that may just save businesses. As small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often targeted by cybercriminals due to minimal cybersecurity protections, a full suite of cybersecurity protection may be costly. Such enterprises may consider enlisting the services of managed security services (MSS).

MSS companies offer security services such as managing firewalls, intrusion detection, VPNs, vulnerability scanning, and anti-virus services. Importantly, they can also help SMEs adopt a zero-trust approach to security.