Why APAC industries must innovate via the cloud now

The APAC region has always been teeming with innovation, thanks to its inherent spirit of entrepreneurship and fervour for growth and expansion beyond borders. To support these ambitions, cloud technology plays an integral role in Asia’s diverse economies, as the region’s governments and industries — from public sector services and banking to telcos and manufacturers — embrace the benefits of digital transformation.

Several macroeconomic factors, such as globalisation and climate change, have contributed to the adoption of cloud technologies. In the past decade, we’ve seen the emergence of companies that were born in the cloud, without ever relying on legacy IT systems and infrastructure. But it was the COVID-19 pandemic that accelerated the adoption of cloud technology, transforming it from a desired investment to a necessity in order to ensure business continuity and enable remote workforce mobilisation.

The pace of cloud adoption in the Asia-Pacific region continues to outperform other markets globally, claiming over a third of the world’s cloud data centres, with capacity ramping up in emerging economies like Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Public cloud spending by APAC governments (excluding Japan) is also expected to reach US$165.2 billion in 2026.

With strong economic headwinds to contend with, IDC predicts that APAC organisations will want to drive greater efficiencies through their cloud deployments while focusing on generating new value, such as automation and sustainability. However, as APAC businesses embrace the cloud, certain foundational gaps, including the lack of alignment between business and IT and poorly defined processes, can impede innovation and hinder growth.

Addressing these challenges requires a fresh, data-driven, and platform-oriented approach to cloud strategy. This approach aims to align innovation pursuits with technology requirements and financial considerations.

Emergence of industry cloud platforms 

During its initial development, the term ‘cloud’ represented a virtual environment where end users could access files stored on remote servers. As cloud technologies advanced and expanded their offerings, organisations gained the ability to harness strategic data insights derived from machine learning and AI, automate workflows, facilitate collaboration among stakeholders, provide highly personalised customer experiences (such as customised financial products and streaming services), and much more.

In addition to enabling digital transformation through cloud adoption, the convergence of technology, processes, and industries is driving innovation. Industries are shifting away from isolated operations and embracing novel amalgamations of technologies, processes, and business models to foster innovation.

Industry-specific cloud platforms were introduced last year, changing how companies in sectors such as architecture, engineering, and construction; product design and manufacturing; as well as media and entertainment unlock value creation. These platforms enable them to innovate faster and adopt an agile modernisation approach.

Let’s consider the construction industry as an example of cloud-powered innovation. Within a single construction project, various professionals are involved, such as architects, engineers, and off-site fabricators specialising in industrialised-construction prefabrication elements. To ensure seamless collaboration and eliminate operational silos, businesses need to adopt a platform-oriented approach. Such an approach involves implementing end-to-end solutions built on a shared data experience, connecting these processes that cannot function in isolation. This becomes particularly critical in an environment where industries, including construction and manufacturing, face challenges such as labour shortages, heightened regulatory requirements, climate risk concerns, and rising costs.

A path to continuous innovation 

Historically, the APAC region relied on its strong manufacturing credentials and growing consumer markets as pillars of growth. However, the ever-changing landscape means that past success may not guarantee future success. Recent years have brought significant upheaval to the business landscape, impacting everything from work dynamics to supply networks. Industries face obstacles arising from factors such as demographic pressures, market fluctuations, climate change, and evolving consumer priorities.

Given its reputation as an innovation hub and the presence of powerhouse economies like China and India, APAC governments and businesses must swiftly embrace digitalization to foster agile and resilient regional growth. Cloud transformations have emerged as crucial facilitators during times of disruption, as witnessed during the pandemic. While industries are embracing digital tools, there remains a prevalent issue of individuals operating in isolated job functions with disconnected processes, resulting in the management of vast amounts of data that is neither efficient nor insightful.

The potential of industry clouds, and the cutting-edge technologies it can support, are a way forward to creating opportunities for continuous innovation and more resilient industries and economies across APAC.