Taking the right steps for successful digital transformation

August 25, 2022 | 13:34
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With Vietnam accelerating the development of its digital economy, businesses are now in an all-out rush to adopt technology, invest in and develop digital solutions, and move on platforms to exploit larger markets without geographical boundaries. Pham Thi Thu Diep, technology and country leader at IBM Vietnam, spoke with VIR's Bich Thuy about the strategic steps enterprises should take to enable a successful digital transformation.

What opportunities and challenges does Vietnam face in terms of growth potential, legal mechanisms, and digital transformation compared to other nations in the region?

Vietnam has a growing digital economy with a highly educated and relatively young workforce – aged just 33 on average. A young demographic and a growing desire for technology are among the key drivers of the country’s successful digital transformation.

Common estimates state that 77 per cent of Vietnam’s population will have internet access in 2022 (approximately 70 million people). Smartphone usage in the country is expanding quickly, reaching 150 per cent in 2021, and investments in smart devices are significant. This lays solid groundwork for Vietnamese businesses to participate in the digital economy and digital shift.

Taking the right steps for successful digital transformation
Pham Thi Thu Diep, technology and country leader at IBM Vietnam

On the other hand, a significant barrier to developing Vietnam's digital economy is gaining the credibility and trust of businesses in the possibilities of the technology and the individuals who will manage it.

Another challenge is to integrate sustainability into digital transformation to boost business performance. Our 25th research project that surveyed 3,000 senior leaders from 28 industries and four countries found that improving the customer experience is the top priority for firms over the next three years.

At the same time, they seek to create a strong and efficiency-focused relationship with the consumer. They also aim to build an ecosystem of partners – some of which may be their competitors – so as to leverage one another's capacities.

However, regulatory obstacles are also encountered by Vietnamese businesses during their digitalisation process. For instance, there is a lack of a cybersecurity framework for firms that wish to employ cloud computing or AI for operations and data storage.

Bridging the technical divide is an extra hurdle for companies wishing to go digital. They may pour large investments into technology but then be unable to keep up with its rapid development.

What are the key components for a digital transformation business to become successful?

Three primary factors businesses need to consider when going digital are people, processes, and data. Many of them have sufficient data but lack a procedure for utilising it. Moreover, they may assume that machines will perform the majority of their procedures without realising that well-trained staff are necessary to operate and utilise the equipment.

The key to a successful digital transformation business is changing the mindset of individuals. When using technology, businesses must find strategies to encourage employee acceptance of innovation.

No one wishes to share, but when it comes to technology, this is a must. The fact that everyone will see the same amount of data presents some challenges at first, especially given the high expertise and experience of competing companies. Now that they are transforming, they must adapt their mentality.

Board members must have strong determination for a successful digital transformation and create change from within their organisations. Many businesses fail to shift to digital because they simply follow the trend.

As the first female general manager at IBM, what is your top priority to allow the company to support businesses on this digitalisation path and capitalise on the market's growth potential and establish a competitive advantage?

Now more than ever, the public sector needs to adapt to changing environments. Digital transformation across all levels of government to transform will provide the modernisation resilient societies require.

New technologies enable government agencies to demonstrate agility, and operational resiliency and gain actionable insights with greater confidence and speed to support citizens.

IBM has long established partnerships with the public sector, and we expect more collaboration with local state management agencies.

IBM is building an ecosystem of partners to leverage their respective capabilities. Currently, sales and technical personnel account for 60 per cent of our workforce. Meanwhile, our Vietnamese partner also has significant human resources. For instance, a partner may employ 100 to 200 staff with both sales and technical skills.

Government clients typically require consultant units to come to their location to present groups of concepts. Therefore, we will continue to enhance our partners’ understanding and the solutions they offer so they can get access to state management agencies and small- and medium-sized enterprises in areas that we are yet to reach out to.

Business leaders in Vietnam recognise the need to transform all aspects of their enterprise through the application of advanced technologies. IBM will continue to work with clients to understand their challenges and develop and implement transformative solutions with speed and agility for each of them.

Our marketing and management activities are geared toward industry groups such as banking, manufacturing, and insurance, among others. We will bring our experts in strategy, industry, and technology who will guide our clients’ digital transformation needs.

When designing a new product line, IBM also conducts market research to identify our target segments. We aim for a broad perspective while distributing our target audience across several industries.

This is vital as each sector has its unique perspective and trajectory.

By Bich Thuy

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