Survey: APAC digital transformation progress threatened by lack of business alignment

Survey: APAC digital transformation progress threatened by lack of business alignment

Appian, a low-code and business process management (BPM) platform provider, has announced survey results from chief information officers (CIOs) and information technology (IT) managers of companies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region about the current state of digital transformation within the respondents’ organisations and projections for the following 12 months. The findings show that APAC businesses have made progress in their digital transformation efforts, but there is still much work to be done, particularly in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA). The data also shows significant barriers to further progress, including IT cultural disconnects and slow delivery speed, with CIOs citing more aggressive timelines using slower development tools than those favoured by their IT teams.

State of digital transformation in the APAC region

The digital transformation efforts of APAC organisations are well underway and gaining maturity. In a survey of APAC organisations conducted by IDG, nearly half of all respondents (48%) said their organisations are steadily implementing digital transformation, while 7% are piloting projects and another 12% are currently scaling up pilot programs. A fifth reported being fully deployed.

The top drivers for digital transformation include improved agility (81%), customer experience — CX (62%), innovation (58%) and increased automation (53%). IT is well-aligned on these goals, although CIOs prize CX improvements much more highly than their IT teams — 74% versus 54%.

Additionally, almost all respondents report one or more intelligent automation (IA) systems are deployed today, including:

  • AI — 69%,
  • BPM — 56%,
  • RPA — 48%,
  • machine learning — 44% and
  • chatbots — 29%.

However, APAC organisations still have more work to do when it comes to their digital transformation, with 64% of respondents reporting plans for new AI and RPA deployments in the next 12 months. And, CIOs anticipate even more aggressive timelines than their colleagues in other IT roles in delivering these deployments.

Mounting pressures

APAC IT teams report facing a number of challenges in achieving business outcomes, including organisational culture (52%), meeting desired speed of delivery (50%), customer demand (45%), skills gaps and shortages (43%) and pressure to adopt AI, RPA and analytics (43%).

IT teams are also feeling the pressure from other organisational issues such as:

  • risk management concerns — 47%,
  • legacy technologies — 44%,
  • limited resources to train/recruit staff — 42%,
  • uncertainty about required financial investment — 42%,
  • change management concerns — 41%,
  • adapting to new technologies — 38% and
  • ability to meet deadlines — 28%.

Significant barriers

Despite the combination of these many pressures, as well as CIOs’ plans for aggressive timelines to deploy IA technologies in the next 12 months, 46% of CIOs also stated they anticipate a future shift towards slower, fully-custom coding. The CIOs’ responses contrasted with those of their IT colleagues, who, in the face of these issues, expect to continue the steady use of faster and easier to use low-code development tools.

This lack of strategic alignment shows there is a major disconnect between the business goals of CIOs versus the priorities of their colleagues in senior IT roles. It creates a barrier for the success of their organisation’s digital transformation progress, particularly considering the pressure to integrate IA systems is expected to continue ramping up at a rapid rate.

Lack of alignment on the best path forward

A move to fully custom coding would only accentuate the many challenges — cultural resistance, speed of delivery, customer demand, skills gap and resource shortages and ability to meet deadlines — IT departments already say they are faced with as a result of digital transformation and desired business outcomes.

In complete contrast to fully-custom code development, enterprise low-code development platforms help organisations accelerate application creation with robust but easy-to-use drag-and-drop visual design tools. They provide IT and business teams a collaborative environment to easily translate ideas into powerful software applications quickly. This gets applications and features to market faster without compromising on quality, performance or experience. These platforms also have intelligent automation capabilities that allow organisations to easily integrate emerging technologies such as RPA, AI and machine learning. As a result, low-code platforms have the power to overcome many of the toughest barriers APAC organisations face in their progress towards a successful digital transformation, as well as ongoing development needs after the transformation is completed.

“Software is defining the future of how work gets done and all organisations and departments within these must become aligned to accelerate IT delivery of new applications and integration of emerging technologies. However, it is important that this is done without sacrificing quality or heightening the challenges and issues already being felt, which could pose a significant risk to digital transformation advancement,” Appian Vice President of APAC, Karen Astley, said.


The Digital Transformation and the Use of Intelligent Automation survey, conducted by IDG, gathered responses between August and September 2019. Respondents included 300 IT leaders (50% CIO or C-level) at organisations with over 500 employees. Fifty-seven percent of respondents were from Australia and the remainder, forty-three percent, from Singapore.

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