Digitalising out of COVID-19

Businesses have been massively disrupted by COVID-19 with many opting to go digital to operate remotely and transact in contactless ways in order to overcome the crisis. Group Enterprise CEO Bill Chang says this forced digitalisation could well be a silver lining for companies as they emerge from this disruption.  

Should enterprises think about transformation as they grapple with the impact of COVID-19?  

Bill: Enterprises haven’t had a choice. The nature of the pandemic and the need to socially distance have forced companies to go digital to connect with their employees, customers, suppliers and partners. In a matter of months, this has triggered a massive global adoption of technologies that enable work-from-home communication and collaboration. With people turning to digital solutions for contactless or remote ways to get through the crisis, cyber risks have also risen, which is another thing that enterprises are having to grapple with.  

Enterprises should see the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to transform their businesses digitally. The ones that survive and emerge stronger would undoubtedly have embraced digital in one way or another. We expect many of them to continue using digital to evolve and scale in the post-COVID world, having experienced the benefits and efficiencies of going digital.

Digital transformation involves more than adopting the latest technologies. How should enterprises transform digitally?

Bill: To adopt digital technologies effectively, enterprises must have a clear vision of how their business will operate during and post-COVID and develop a transformation roadmap to achieve their vision.

Investing in the digital skillsets of their workforce is also critical for enterprises to make the successful transition to a digital future. Through the Singapore government’s TechSkills Accelerator scheme, enterprises can train their workforce in digital technologies.

As companies expand their digital footprint, the risk of cyber threats is bound to grow. Enterprises must defend themselves against such risks to prevent data loss which can impact their operations and damage their branding.

How is Singtel helping enterprises that have embarked on the digitalisation move to the next level?

Bill: Singtel and our subsidiary NCS can help enterprises digitalise with our combined deep experience and vast digital expertise. We can partner any enterprise at any stage of their digital transformation journey. Our purpose-built FutureNow Innovation Centre provides an experiential platform for enterprises to discover how digital technologies such as cloud, analytics, 5G, IoT and AI can help them reimagine their operational or business models. This can help them innovate, enhance productivity and redefine customer experiences.

We’ve also established a Centre of Digital Excellence to train and equip enterprises with digital skills such as design thinking and data analytics to accelerate their digital transformation. As their transformation partner, we will help our customers ascertain their digital needs and, wherever viable, co-create new solutions.

Enterprises can also gain a deeper understanding of cyber threats at our Advanced Security Centre and work with us to build a robust cyber defence.

With Australia having launched 5G services and Singapore to follow later this year, how can enterprises leverage 5G to innovate and sharpen their competitiveness?

Bill: 5G is expected to revolutionise industries and companies. Its combo of higher speed and lower latency will enable the optimisation of a plethora of new technologies such as AI, augmented, virtual or mixed reality, robotics, mobile edge computing and massive IoT deployments. We see 5G serving as the launchpad and digital acceleration platform for enterprises to produce even more innovative and transformative solutions.

In Singapore, we’re working with several enterprises on their 5G proof-of-concept trials and we’ll facilitate the development of solutions with our 5G platform where application developers can easily build and distribute their offerings directly to enterprises and consumers. In Australia, Optus has begun to roll out its 5G network across several areas in major cities. We’re engaging businesses to trial our 5G platform and working with an ecosystem of partners to co-create 5G solutions. We’re also ramping up 5G research by partnering Curtin University.

As the cyber threat landscape becomes more sophisticated, how is Singtel protecting enterprises from these fast-evolving threats?

Bill: Digitalisation and hyper-connectivity allow enterprises to innovate faster and operate with agility and efficiency. However, they also increase cyber threats, making enterprises more vulnerable to social engineering phishing scams, data loss and disruptions through ransomware and more sophisticated advanced persistent threats.

To help enterprises strengthen their defences, our global cyber security arm, Trustwave, hones its capabilities in managed security, including threat intelligence and active threat hunting, security consulting and professional services and advanced technology services. Its global network of security operations centres and expertise, including Trustwave SpiderLabs Fusion Centre, a leading-edge cyber command facility, provide real-time global threat intelligence, enabling our managed security services to respond to threats as they happen.

We can also help enterprises review and implement information security policies and procedures, validate incident response plans and ensure data compliance. Additionally, our elite team of specialists including ethical hackers, threat hunters, forensic investigators and researchers at Trustwave SpiderLabs and our corporate lab, have the spectrum of expertise needed to solve complex, evolving cyber threats.