APAC Cloud readiness is vital for economic recovery

ACCA releases the APAC Cloud Readiness Index 2020

Cloud readiness is advancing in the APAC region, but the pace of progress is stalling, said the Asia Cloud Computing Association (ACCA), in The Cloud Readiness Index (CRI) 2020.

According to the ACCA this is not a positive sign, as it indicates some countries may have chosen to plateau their technology and infrastructural investment in a time when it is needed the most to recover from the economic fallout from Covid-19.

“Cloud computing has constantly worked behind the scenes to provide the technological foundation upon which much of today’s economic resilience rests – and which tomorrow’s capacity of international trade recovery may be built upon,” wrote the ACCA. “In our personal lives, anecdotal evidence will reveal that with movement control orders and social distancing policies in place, the use of internet protocol (IP)-based tools such as messaging, tele-and video-conferencing tools have increased.”

According to the CRI the digital divide has narrowed, although core capabilities such as managing natural risks, privacy, cybersecurity remain fragile.

There are benefits to regional cooperation and standardisation, and here are where there are opportunities for regional collaboration to increase risk management capabilities.

However emerging APAC markets risk losing out on economic recovery from Covid-19 by not leveraging promising ‘leapfrog’ technologies.

“Cloud readiness is advancing in the region, but the pace of progress is stalling in terms of absolute scores,” wrote the ACCA. “The CRI 2020 shows that cloud readiness has advanced for all 14 APAC and all six non-APAC economies covered in this report.

Overall CRI 2020 scores range from a low of 46.2 (Vietnam) to a high of 81.9 (Hong Kong), a significant increase compared to CRI 2018’s range of 41 (Vietnam) to 76.6 (Singapore).

Ten of the 14 APAC economies have moved in the rankings since CRI 2018. Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand have moved up, while Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore have moved down.

According to the ACCA it’s worth noting that despite these changes, the top three economies are the same as for CRI 2018 (Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand), as are the bottom two (China and Vietnam).

ACCA’s calculations shows an absence of notable shifts reflects a general slowdown of cloud-related activities and initiatives around the region.

“Since CRI 2018, no new ‘Cloud First’ policies have been launched or implemented, and no major cloud-related frameworks have been announced or adopted – despite such measures being recognised as a key differentiator for digital economies looking to harness the broader technological advancements that cloud computing enables,” states the ACCA.

To avoid reaching a technological stand-still, the ACCA recommends that APAC economies who have announced ‘Cloud First’ policies to focus their efforts on making them a reality.

The ACCA also recommends that APAC economies that have not yet planned or designed such policies to consider doing so, as well as developing supporting measures (cloud vendor registration/accreditation schemes, guidelines for baseline security standards, data management policies.

Emerging APAC markets risk losing out on economic recovery from Covid-19 by not leveraging promising ‘leapfrog’ technologies. Most APAC economies are already looking at the wave of next-generation technologies that will open up a range of global business opportunities. Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented realities (VR and AR), 5G networks, high-performance and quantum computing, automated and autonomous devices – these are some of the new advancements set to transform communities, organisations, and industries across the region.

For many, these technologies represent a unique opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ ahead of more mature economies – a promising scenario that is pushing APAC governments to gear up by strengthening infrastructure, adapting regulatory frameworks, and capacitating students and workers.

But how much ‘leapfrogging’ can they actually and sustainably do if cloud readiness is stalled and/or inhibited?

According to the ACCA a slew of restrictive measures that make it difficult for data to travel freely and securely have taken shape between 2018 and 2019.

For example, data localisation measures (data-residency requirements that confine data within a country’s borders) have been proposed, considered, or enacted in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam – most often within broader privacy, cybersecurity, or national defence policies.

“Likewise, there are many policies that make it increasingly expensive, complicated, or unfeasible to transfer data trans-nationally, effectively forcing digital service providers to keep data within a given border or jurisdiction,” wrote the ACCA. “In this context, policies and regulations that enable the free and secure flow of data across borders and jurisdictions – essential to the growth and expansion of digital businesses and economies, and to economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – are not necessarily or systematically framed as such across APAC markets.”

If APAC economies do not address the data restrictions highlighted, there is a chance that investment alone will not be able to unlock the opportunities that next- generation technologies represent.

To remain relevant and competitive, and effectively pave the way to economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, the ACCA recommends APAC economies use policies and regulations to create conducive environments in which data-driven businesses of all types and sizes can thrive. Make it so that businesses do not have to choose between innovating and growing, disrupting, and expanding – but achieve all at once.



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