A strategic approach for digital transformation is essential for long-term success, stresses Deloitte's Yang Chi Chih | Asian Business Review

A strategic approach for digital transformation is essential for long-term success, stresses Deloitte's Yang Chi Chih

Deloitte's Yang Chi Chih shares his insights on Asia's tech landscape, from the transformative potential of 5G and AI advancements to the rising importance of cybersecurity and sustainability.

In the fast-paced realm of technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT), staying ahead of the curve requires both expertise and foresight. It also requires expert leaders to take action and harness the potential of innovative technological solutions.

Yang Chi Chih, the Technology, Media & Telecommunications Industry Leader at Deloitte Southeast Asia, is renowned for his expertise and leadership in the field.

Chi Chih has an impressive career spanning over two decades. He has garnered extensive experience in public accounting, serving a diverse range of local, multinational, and listed companies in both Singapore and the United States. He has advised numerous companies, providing guidance during initial public offerings (IPOs) on the Singapore Exchange and has led teams in system audits to identify areas for improvement in accounting and reporting systems.

His experience extends to telecommunications and technology companies across Singapore, Southeast Asia, and South Asia, where he has been involved in audit and assurance work over the past 15 years.

As a judge at the Asian Technology Excellence Awards 2023, Chi Chih shared his insights on Asia’s TMT industry as he evaluated the region's most cutting-edge and innovative solutions, and shared his perspectives on emerging trends, transformative technologies, and revolutionary strategies.

Challenges, Opportunities in TMT as ESG Emerges as a Top Priority

The past year has seen several significant developments in Asia's TMT industry, including advancements in 5G and connectivity, AI technology, and a heightened focus on cybersecurity and privacy.

The rollout of 5G technology has been a major highlight in the region, with ongoing efforts to provide faster and more reliable wireless connectivity. This technology can potentially revolutionise various sectors such as autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality, and virtual reality.

The continued development of 5G infrastructure is expected in the coming years, and will drive innovation and create revenue opportunities for organisations. However, challenges may arise in scaling capital-intensive infrastructure like 5G fixed-wireless access and fibre networks, as well as in evolving networks to provide low-latency capabilities with edge computing. Collaboration and coordination amongst stakeholders will be essential to overcome these challenges.

Artificial intelligence has made significant strides in the past year as well, thanks to advancements in accelerated computing. In 2023, AI is expected to continue its progress and find applications in various domains.

The importance of cybersecurity and privacy has also been underscored over the past few years, leading to regulatory interventions, changes in platform policies, and heightened customer concerns regarding data usage. In the coming years, the industry can expect continued emphasis on data protection, privacy regulations, and the development of advanced cybersecurity solutions.

Whilst the TMT industry has weathered the disruptions caused by the pandemic, businesses are now facing economic headwinds. Large tech companies have undergone workforce right-sizing and right-skilling to adapt to changing market conditions.

“Companies now face a major challenge to weather a potential economic slowdown. They can do so by being agile, increasing efficiency, and growing revenues. The industry will also likely continue to grapple with issues surrounding supply chains, workforce, and innovation. However, we expect companies to continue their moves towards innovation and digital transformation to place themselves in a strong competitive position for the future,” said Chi Chih.

Amidst the expected developments in the coming years, ESG compliance and sustainability demands are seen as a top priority by many technology executives. In general, 79% of business leaders believe that the world is at a tipping point when it comes to responding to climate change, as per Deloitte’s 2022 CxO Global Sustainability report.

Given this demand, the tech industry is looking at ambitious deadlines to reach net-zero emissions and is looking at various ways to reduce emissions in its infrastructure, operations, and supply chains. This is where operational efficiencies, sustainable products, and tech innovations come into play.

Around 60% of telecommunication companies’ carbon footprint is made up of scope 3 emissions, or emissions that a company is indirectly responsible for across its value chain. However, less than half of mobile network operators gave reliable data on scope 3 during their ESG reporting in 2021. As such, accurate scope 3 reporting and emissions reduction are key to improving sustainability.

“In general, ESG needs to be ingrained in the DNA of businesses, rather than just for compliance needs,” Chi Chih stressed. He added that ESG and sustainability practices can help drive long-term business resilience, innovation, and growth.

Empowering Growth through Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a continuous effort that drives any company’s success or recovery in the long run, so much so that it extends well beyond a single technology, platform or skill set. Amongst the leading innovations in tech right now is the metaverse.

The advent of the metaverse has sparked excitement and curiosity within the tech industry. As this virtual realm gains traction, it brings forth a myriad of opportunities and benefits for tech companies. One of the driving forces behind its popularity is the success of gaming. By capitalising on their expertise in this field, tech companies can create immersive and socially connected experiences within the metaverse.

Beyond gaming, the metaverse extends its transformative potential to industries such as financial services, where Web3 protocols are already making an impact.

Whilst the metaverse holds immense potential, tech companies must navigate several challenges. Regulatory frameworks, data privacy, and other infrastructure requirements will play a crucial role in ensuring the responsible development and usage of the metaverse.

Getting the right strategy for digitisation is more than just ambition and bold investments; it also involves taking purposeful risks, allocating capital to new technology that can power strategic initiatives, and pushing the organisation towards a change mindset that extends beyond one’s tenure.

Chi Chih stressed the importance of communicating these strategies to stakeholders, so they understand that the initiatives are aimed at increasing the odds of the organisation’s success. One such example is AI, which continues to mature rapidly and has been found by Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise survey as critical to success.

“There are four key actions that business leaders can take to harness the potential of AI: invest in culture and leadership, transform operations, orchestrate tech and talent, and select high-value applications for AI,” Chi Chih highlighted.

As a judge in this year's Asian Technology Excellence Awards, Chi Chih looks forward to evaluating companies based on their return on investment, ability to scale, and impact on the environment, amongst other significant factors.

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