Five imperatives for business identified to cope with changing environment, including pursuing technology leadership.
An increased reliance on the internet for business and finance activity is fuelling fears of exposure to cyber-attacks on companies in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a new report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants), with two-thirds of senior executives in the region and 70% of finance professionals identifying cyber security as a driver for change in the future.
This is second only to concerns of rising fuel and energy costs among Asia-Pacific businesses in the short term, with 72% of senior executives identifying it as the most important factor for their future plans in the Drivers of Change in Asia-Pacific report.
“Looking into the immediate future, it appears that science and technology are among the top three drivers of change in the Asia Pacific region,” said Jennifer Lopez, head of ACCA Malaysia. She felt that this was not surprising, “given that the Asia Pacific region has been one of the fastest to adopt new technology compared to the global average.”
Driven by the fallings costs of smartphones and tablets, the rising adoption of these digital devices in Malaysia and across the region offers the potential to take the internet to almost every citizen in the next few years and with the true potential of the Web yet to reveal itself.
For instance, the internet is transforming supply chains in many sectors and threatening to reinvent completely some industries, such as publishing. At the same time, social media are creating new opportunities to engage the public and expand individual social spheres in a manner unthinkable before.
Lopez adds: “As we become more reliant on computers, the continued digitisation of financial services has opened up individuals and organisations to threats from cyberspace, and new forms of cyber-terrorism, cybercrime and cyber-fraud will continue to emerge. Needless to say, this makes a strong case to improve security policies on a government and corporate level.”
However, compared to respondents in Hong Kong and China, Malaysians are less concerned with cyber security challenges for business, which ranked fourth. The report revealed that the ease of internet access for the general population is viewed as the third critical driver that is expected to play a role in the immediate future in Malaysia.
Ranking second highest concern for Malaysians was the increased cost and accessibility of higher education. Additionally, Malaysian respondents were more sensitive to rises in fuel and energy costs than other respondents across the region.
Meanwhile, pursuing technology leadership was identified among the five imperatives for business. The pace and disruptive potential of information and communications technology (ICT) development has placed technology at the heart of strategy and operations of businesses of almost every size. New mindsets and approaches to technology management are required to exploit and extract full value from the next decade of advances.
Another imperative for business was to prepare for what is termed, true globalisation. The report states that the development of a truly global operating model is becoming a priority today where a clear emphasis is required on leveraging technology effectively. Equally important is developing the capability of management to work with, adapt to and get the best out of a multi-location, multi-cultural and age-diverse workforce.
This survey is part of a wider global report, involving more than 550 accountants and business leaders from different sectors across Asia-Pacific markets, including Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, who offered their insights into future drivers for change.
Photo credit: ACCA