Staying ahead of the curve

(Above pic caption: The DT Index conducted by independent research company, Vanson Bourne, maps digital transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies, among which 100 business leaders in Malaysia were surveyed)

In a recent independent study commissioned by Dell, called Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index (“DT Index”), alarm bells seem to be sounding for Malaysian enterprises. The DT Index, which was completed in collaboration with Intel, maps digital transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies and examines the digital hopes and fears of business leaders.

In the study, just 3% of Malaysian businesses are considered Digital Leaders whereas revealingly, 51% of Malaysian business leaders believe their organisation will struggle to meet changing customer demands. Alarmingly, 48% fear they will be left behind within five years.

Results from the DT Index were first presented two years ago, but in the latest instalment, Dell Technologies and Intel have more than doubled the scope of research, from the initial 16 countries to 42 (including Malaysia) benchmarking across 4,600 businesses.

The following groupings are used:

Benchmark groups Description 2018 country analysis


Digital Leaders Digital transformation, in its various forms, is ingrained in the DNA of the business 3%
Digital Adopters Have a mature digital plan, investments and innovations in place 18%
Digital Evaluators Cautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation; planning and investing for the future 28%
Digital Followers Very few digital investments; tentatively starting to plan for the future 41%
Digital Laggards Do not have a digital plan, limited initiatives and investments in place 10%

According to the DT Index, only 18% of Malaysian businesses are categorised as Digital Adopters. These companies have advanced digital plans and innovations in place to power their transformation. Tellingly, half of the businesses surveyed (51%) are categorised in the bottom two groups, meaning they are either moving too slowly or do not even have a digital plan in place.

 Barriers to digital transformation

The top five barriers to digital transformation cited are:

  1. Lack of budget and resources
  2. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns
  3. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise
  4. Lack of senior support and sponsorship
  5. Immature digital culture: lack of alignment and collaboration across the company

85% of Malaysian business leaders believe that digital transformation should be more widespread throughout the organisation, while only 10% strongly agree they will disrupt rather than be disrupted within five years.

“We’ve talked about being on the cusp of tremendous change for some time now. That’s no longer the case,” said KT Ong, Country Manager – Malaysia, Dell EMC. “The next digital era has arrived and it’s reshaping the way we live, work and conduct business. Which means that time is of the essence. Genuine transformation needs to happen now, and it needs to be radical.”

 Conquering their challenges

 Businesses are taking steps to overcome their barriers, along with the threat of being outmanoeuvred from more nimble, innovative players, evidenced as such from the survey:

  • 56% of businesses are building security and privacy into all devices, applications and algorithms
  • 56% are striving to develop the right skills sets and expertise in-house, such as teaching staff how to code
  • 54% of Malaysian businesses are using digital technologies to accelerate new product/services development
  • 47% are sharing knowledge across functions, by equipping IT leaders with business skills and business leaders with IT skills

Companies are also turning to emerging technologies and cybersecurity to power (and secure) their transformation.

Planned investments by Malaysian businesses within the next one to three years are:

§ 56% intend to invest in cybersecurity

§ 50% intend to invest in IoT technologies

§ 39% intend to invest in multi-cloud

§ 35% intend to invest in Artificial Intelligence

§ 33% intend to invest in a compute-centric approach to data center design and workload enablement/optimisation


In fact, a number of businesses are beginning to experiment with nascent technologies. Almost a quarter (24%) will be investing in cognitive systems, 16% in quantum computing and VR/AR, 14% in commercial drones and 13% intend to explore blockchain technology.

“It’s an exciting time to be in business. We’re at a crucial intersection – where technology, business and mankind meet to create a better, more connected world,” added Ong. “However, only technology-centered organisations will reap the rewards offered by a digital business model, including the ability to move quickly, to automate everything and to delight customers. This is why digital transformation needs to be a number one priority.”


Dell Technologies’ stated aspiration to be the essential infrastructure company for human progress certainly positions it well to lead organisations into comprehensive digital transformations. However, what transformation is truly needed to drive shareholder value, brand stickiness, customer experience (and ultimately, the bottom line) .… well, that is the prerogative and responsibility of the organisation to determine.

After all, there is value in being a “first mover”, a “second mover” or even a “late mover”, depending on the unique proposition of each organisation, which should not transform blindly for the mere sake of being labelled first mover.

Always be cognisant that your organisation is facing an existential threat. And transformation is a continuous culture, mindset and tech change, that may help stave off extinction.