SE Asian firms need to gain insights from trove of data

Image by Hadi Ardzani

Businesses in Southeast Asia have data about their technology spend and usage, but they can improve how they gain insights from it to achieve greater business agility, new research from Apptio shows.

The research prepared in partnership with AOPG and conducted in Southeast Asia shows that when it comes to reporting IT financials and aligning their IT spend to business outcome, 30% of IT leaders traditionally–and still today — rely on spreadsheets, while 44% rely on a combination of data, modelling, and Business Intelligence (BI) tools, and 22% use in-house developed solutions.

Despite the type of tool IT leaders use to track IT spending, 78% of respondents are confident that the financial and operational data give accurate visibility into their technology spending.

“It is encouraging to see IT leaders have confidence in the information they possess for business-critical decision making,” said Tarun Kumar Kalra, regional VP for Asia Pacific at Apptio. “However, it is the accuracy, time sensitiveness and automated access to this information that is becoming more crucial for modern enterprises who want real-time insights.”

The study found that enterprises are still leaning on sophisticated Excel sheet models to plan and track IT investments and their related ROI. 

Data is still siloed and disparate in most Southeast Asian organisations and undermines collaboration across business units, making it difficult to prioritize and measure the value of investments. 

“A standardised framework and the right tool can be a game changer to provide enterprise-wide access to IT spend, insights, and enable proactive decision making,” Kalra said.

Rather than being a support function, IT departments are becoming a strategic part of the business. However, 56% of IT leaders surveyed said that they are still spending their IT budget on “run” as opposed to “grow and transform.” 

For IT to become that strategic business partner and support innovation initiatives, IT decision-makers need to have strong data linking IT spending to business outcomes.

According to the research, IT leaders keep their IT spend on “run” to under 70%. This represents an untapped opportunity for IT leaders to shift their focus and spend from “run” to “grow and “transform” investments. 

By gaining better visibility of their IT budget and align it to business value, they can allocate resources to transformation and digital initiatives that can improve the customer experience and the products or services they deliver.

“Through the adoption of technology business management (TBM) as a discipline, Southeast Asian organisations can dramatically improve business outcomes by giving them a consistent way to translate technology investments to business value,” said Kalra. “A strong TBM practice defines the tools, processes, data, and people needed to manage the business of technology.”

“Getting IT, finance, and the business on the same page with a common taxonomy of IT functions is crucial to creating IT metrics that tie back to business goals,” he added. “One of the biggest challenges today is that IT financial metrics are often coming from the general ledger to the CIO.”

Further, according to the research, more than a third of the respondents indicated that they are likely to increase their cloud spending between 20% and 40% in 2023.

There is a clear trend towards public cloud adoption in the Southeast Asia region, proving that organisation have confidence in the agility and cost benefits that public clouds can provide, including addressing their concerns with security and data privacy.

According to the survey, 67% of the respondents are still using the on-demand model to procure their cloud services. 

This represents a huge opportunity for Southeast Asian organisations to improve their operating model for the cloud and enable IT, finance and DevOps teams to work together to optimise resources for speed, cost and quality.