Digital partnership makes perfect

Sheila Lam2017 is no doubt going to be a year full of doubts and uncertainties.

The changing political scene both globally and locally is going to bring profound impact to local businesses and IT landscapes. On the global front, US President-elect Donald Trump is already urging Apple to move its iPhone production plant back to the US. Locally, the Chief Executive election, expected to take place in March, may pose uncertainty towards the new governments’ ability to support IT and innovation development.

More businesses are recognizing the power of digitization in 2016. Digitization appears to be the only assurance for businesses to seek continuous growth in an unstable economy. The journey to digitization can be reached through multiple paths. But one that many business leaders are considering is partnership.

Different from traditional partnership that mainly supports sales and distribution channels or production optimization, partnership in the digital era focuses on co-developing digital capabilities and driving innovations together. According to a study from Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), this is called digital partnership.

EIU’s recently released Asian Digital Transformation Index indicated that apart from enabling IT infrastructure and developing a pool of relevant talent, the third pillar for successful digital transformation is the willingness to partner with others. Hong Kong excels in two of the three pillars, but unfortunately lags behind in digital partnership. We ranked only seven out of the 11 Asian markets in digital partnership.

This is a wakeup call for local businesses and IT leaders. Despite our continuous effort in refining IT infrastructure and developing talents, the willingness to partner and collaborate with others within the industry remains weak.

Nevertheless, this is about to change. With the rising number of accelerator programs introduced in Hong Kong, more established enterprises are reaching out to the startup communities to seek innovation ideas and identify opportunities to co-develop digital capabilities.

With the rising awareness and number of POC initiatives involving blockchain in the finance and banking sector, the value of collaboration becomes more prominent. Blockchain relies on an open, shared and immutable ledger to record transaction history across the industry. Despite individual organizations developing their POC initiatives, the technology can only realize its benefits when adopted by multiple parties within the ecosystem.

EIU added that digital partnership is going to be nearly, if not as important, as capital investment in technology to drive successful digital transformation. As more local business leaders realize the urgency to transform, building a digital partnership will be an important path in their digital journeys in the upcoming year.

From Computerworld Hong Kong, we wish you a successful 2017!