We showcased our innovation at CommunicAsia in Singapore a week ago, highlighting the changing digital landscape and sharing insights on how companies should be ready for the future.

Our senior executives were on hand to address topics and trends impacting organizations across the region, from strategies to migrate to 5G, the importance of IoT/M2M in this transition and learning how to orchestrate network services in the age of the cloud.

I believe the industry is currently accelerating the shift towards digital transformation that is fast changing how businesses will be run in the next five years.

Buoyant outlook for mobility and smart devices

In Asia Pacific, mobility is seeing rapid growth. Cisco’s latest VNI forecasts show that by 2021, there will be 3 billion Asia Pacific mobile users accounting for 47 per cent of global mobile traffic.

From 2016 to 2021, data traffic from smart devices in the region will increase 23.5 times and M2M traffic grow 15-fold.

This is significant and a huge jump, and highlights the tremendous opportunities for growth in video, mobility and digitization in the ASEAN region.

Over the next few years, I see the ICT market and digital economy continuing to mature, as infrastructure spending and broadband penetration take off across many countries. The ever-changing mix and growth of smart devices makes the region one of the most exciting to watch this year. In Indonesia, for example, smart devices will make up 73% of total mobile connections in 2021, compared to only 34% in 2016.

Our forecast expects that the average mobile data growth for the Asia Pacific will rise 49%* year-on-year over the next few years, with several emerging country markets doubling every year.

How you can get ready for the future?

Today, most companies have a mix of business processes that were developed over time and are becoming difficult to manage. As business processes become increasingly digitized, new demands on the network architecture will rise. Over the next few years, for them to remain relevant, their networks must evolve to support more digital service offerings.

With 5G on the horizon, a whole new digital infrastructure is also needed to support high and ultra-high definition video and rich media telecommunications.

At the same time, the complexity of network operations is expected to increase as they become more dynamic.

Service Providers and Enterprises will need to future-proof and find a solution where the network infrastructure is fast and agile, and can facilitate the implementation of new services.

I believe that the next generation of enterprise mobility will ultimately be characterized by seamless services and pervasive collaboration, and that speed and agility will determine an organization’s future competitiveness.

One question many customers have been asking me has been – what are the practical steps they can take to evolve and transform their operations into a digital organization?

I think that as a business, if you want to forge ahead, you need to start by building the right foundations, step-by-step, to meet the demands of the future.

To do this, there are four areas where you can develop your digital strategy around:

  1. Simplification

Simpler networks enable your business to scale more efficiently when more devices are added to the network. It is also easier and faster for IT to come together to deliver new and innovative services when they are working in harmony.

  1. Virtualization

You can expand and grow your service offerings and reduce cost by decoupling network functions from hardware, separating control and user plane functions. This enables your organization to be able to think outside the box and innovate.

  1. Automation

You can innovate faster and reduce complexity and human error in configuration and provisioning, and use orchestration tools to rapidly create new and manage services and customize your customer experience.

  1. Programmability

You can leverage programmability to deliver a contextual and higher quality user experience by extracting real time or near real time data, analyse the data, apply policy and program the network and applications in real time.

Employing the four areas above in your network strategy will address the most pressing priorities of speed, efficiency, growth and security, and will help your organization thrive in a fast-changing environment.

The time to act is now

I feel that this is an exciting time for enterprises, consumers and service providers.

Countries in the ASEAN region are now experiencing the next wave of ICT growth and taking the steps to transform their businesses. It is time for you to do the same.

The team at Cisco will be helping to transform strategic industries and playing a key role in enabling businesses in the region to innovate and adapt for the future. Successful digitization, however, requires that companies improve their levels of service and network quality to provide seamless and higher quality experiences for their customers.

To achieve this, Service Providers  need to build simplified, automated and virtualized network platforms of the future based on industry-leading software, systems, silicon and services. This will enable your organization and business to reduce costs, speed time-to-market, secure their networks and sustain profitable growth in the years to come.


Dharmesh Malhotra

Managing Director Service Provider, ASEAN