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Investments for application strategy to deliver superior customer experience

Investments for application strategy to deliver superior customer experience Back view of young businessman and woman looking at digital business screens and holograms in futuristic interior. (Shutterstock/Peshkova)
Shahnawaz Backer
Singapore   ●   Tue, April 27, 2021 2021-04-27 01:43 20 559f5bc8c5224ad06a25184c0a40eb4b 2 Opinion application,digital,Grab,Gojek,customers,investment,artificial-intelligence,cloud,software Free

The digital population across Asia Pacific is growing by the second. In Southeast Asia alone, 40 million people started using the internet in 2020 – presenting a wealth of opportunities for enterprises.

As we settle into this digital-first world, enterprises’ approach to user experience has become synonymous with terms like “streamlined”, “supportive” and “convenience”. In a 2020 F5 study, 96 percent of Asia Pacific respondents prioritized convenience over security as they navigate the digital world.

This is evident from the rise of super apps across the region – Grab, GoJek – that are already building a hefty customer base for themselves. However, as infrastructure and resources, like IT talent, remain stagnant, it places a huge strain on enterprises.

To bridge this resource gap, many enterprises have pivoted toward a data driven approach and investing in application security and delivery technologies that can be automated.

New innovations and technological advances are a dime by the dozen in today’s landscape and a focus on following three key areas can help enterprises alleviate their pain points.

First, cloud has been on the agenda for the last few years, with many enterprises straddling between on-premise and cloud architectures as they modernize their technology portfolio. In F5 State of Application Strategy 2021 report, we noted a rise in applications deployed in the cloud‚ with 68 percent of organizations globally hosting at least some of their application security and delivery technologies in the cloud. This has resulted in a decline of colocation deployments as applications hosted on-premise continue to dwindle.

Cloud provides the benefit of agility but that’s not all – many enterprises have been turning to the cloud for its security benefits as well. With cloud, enterprises can easily leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning solutions to remain vigilant against emerging threat vectors as this process can be hard to manage on-premise.

Second, we are seeing a steady increase in organizations leveraging software as a service (SaaS) for flexibility and scalability across multiple environments for security purposes – dethroning other technology investments to become the top strategic investment.

However, enterprises now have to focus on addressing the architectural complexities that arise from adding SaaS and edge solutions to create consistency across multiple environments – from on-premise to the cloud. In order to successfully integrate these elements within a cohesive application strategy will require these enterprises to level up their tools, skillsets, IT process and analytics capabilities across these dynamic architectures.

Conglomerate Jebsen Group has made this transition and is now able to better manage security, consistency, and efficiency across its entire technology stack.

Next comes edge computing, a term that might not ring with the same familiarity as “cloud”. Edge computing can be defined as operations performed outside of a centralized data center, in the intermediary spaces between the connected endpoints and the core IT environment.

As the majority of workforces continue to function remotely, employees and consumers are logging on from increasingly distributed locations. With multiple points of connection, latency concerns, responsiveness and security are becoming a challenge for most enterprises today.

However, edge computing is providing enterprises with significant means to reduce latency and increase real-time responsiveness required by today’s applications to deliver on the promised user experience. The benefits of edge computing are clear – 76 percent of organizations surveyed have implemented or are actively planning edge deployments to improve application performance and data analytics.

While edge seems like a silver bullet for most enterprises struggling to provide world-class application security and experience, the technology is still in its nascent stages and there is still much to be done to realize its full potential. Nevertheless, the advent of 5G networks across various markets in Asia Pacific has provided enterprises with a solid foundation to harness the full potential of edge computing.

Globally, we are generating up to 500 million tweets, 294 billion emails, 5 billion searches along with 4 terabytes of data from each connected car daily. By 2025, it’s estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day – the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs. Despite the behemoth amount of data that we generate daily, some enterprises are unable to see the full value of these data set.

More than nine in 10 respondents shared that they are missing insights related to performance, security, and availability, indicating a desire for a much clearer end-to-end picture than their current monitoring and analytics solutions can provide. With telemetry, this can become a much smoother process.

Telemetry is the collection of measurements or other data at remote points and their automatic transmission to receiving equipment for monitoring. Leveraging telemetry capabilities can help enterprises turn large volumes of data into actionable business insights, an element that is critical in creating an application portfolio that is adaptive in nature.

There is an appetite to leverage AI capabilities to turn the data into actionable insights. Nearly three-quarters of respondents intend to leverage AI to better utilize telemetry data, and more than half are looking toward AI to help their organization transit to applications that can automatically adapt to better defend themselves and respond to changing conditions.

With a scarcity of skills and architectures of increasing complexity, treating “infrastructure-as-code” can help drive automation required to move toward a more AI-assisted business and the improved security and customer experiences it can deliver – and some enterprises are already en route toward this reality.

One key takeaway from 2020 would be the increased expectations consumers are placing on enterprises to deliver secure, seamless experience across all the applications they interact with today. For most enterprises, it is critical to make the right technology investments to meet these growing demands.

To make greater progress in the later stages of digital transformation, enterprises will require the triad of automation, telemetry, and cultural change in their application strategy. This will help business units in leveraging data to make strategic decisions, with IT as an integrated partner as well as an enabler – creating an application portfolio that is adaptable and world-class.

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The writer is principal security advisor for Asia Pacific China and Japan at F5.