27 Oct 2017

Cloud computing is a technology whose time has come for Southeast Asia, but many barriers remain in its way, a new report says.

The study, entitled A Cloud for Doing Good: A Technology Revolution for All in ASEAN has been launched by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and Microsoft.

It says cloud computing can democratize access to technology and deliver considerable benefits for governments and businesses, but a concerted effort is needed to address the barriers that impede (its) widespread adoption. These barriers include a lack of awareness about the technology, data localization requirements, the cost and quality of broadband infrastructure, privacy and cybersecurity concerns, and the lack of common cloud standards across countries.

At the report's October 6 launch in Manila, Dr. Astrid S. Tuminez, Regional Director for Corporate, External and Legal Affairs for Microsoft (Southeast Asia) said: Cloud computing is at the heart of the current technology revolution and digital transformation going on in ASEAN. This is why it's imperative to look into the trends and best practices of other nations so that we can adapt more readily to the what is an increasingly digital global economy.

The report calls on government and cloud service providers to comply with international standards for business continuity and information security management, as well as data privacy.

Cloud computing is a technology whose time has come, especially for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the report says.

Cloud computing can help make enterprises more competitive as they can free up capital investments for servers, software, and mainframes.

It offers many practical benefits for countries in the region for central governments and cities, businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), manufacturing, banks, and financial services firms, health, and education institutions, and social enterprise organizations.

It says the power of the cloud can make the public sector more efficient and integrated across many areas, such as front-line services and the building of smart cities. It allows various government agencies to work together with a whole-of-government approach instead of in the typical government silos.

The report put particular focus on the benefits of cloud computing for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), which make up 95 percent of all businesses in ASEAN. Cloud computing can help make these enterprises more competitive as they can free up capital investments for servers, software, and mainframes.

With the flexibility offered by cloud computing, SMEs need not worry about significant, upfront capital costs as they seek to expand to new markets domestically and in the region. Small and medium-sized financial services firms, which require huge investments in information technology (IT), can become more competitive because they can be more productive through automation. They do not have to invest in expensive capital costs as they pay only for what they use.

It also suggested that cloud computing could help deliver access to financial services to an estimated 438 million people who are unbanked in the ASEAN region. Among these are migrant workers who send money home from their jobs abroad. Cloud computing could reduce the cost of remittances as local banks adopt digital payment systems using cloud-based solutions.

The cloud could also boost wider access to improved healthcare. Cloud computing can lead to cost reduction in IT and more connected healthcare, and allow for data analytics, tele-medicine in rural areas, diagnostic support, disaster recovery as a service, and backup as a service.

This piece was first published in Microsoft- Asia News Center on 6 October 2017.