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Eileen Tan on digital transformation: Tap into available resources, adapt success cases to avoid trial and error

Embracing a growth mindset is essential for organisations to redefine their role and improve work efficiency.

In an era of rapid technological evolution, businesses have to adapt and thrive amidst constant disruption, which has never been more pressing. Digital transformation stands as the cornerstone of this adaptation, offering organisations a pathway to agility, innovation, and sustained relevance in an ever-changing market landscape.

Eileen Tan, Partner and Head of IT Services at RSM & Stone Forest Group, brings a wealth of expertise to the forefront of digital transformation strategies. With a background in both financial acumen and technological prowess, she spearheads initiatives ranging from IT infrastructure management to data analytics, guiding clients across diverse industries towards streamlined workflows and enhanced digital capabilities.

Notably, her role extends beyond advisory capacities, as she champions digital consultancy endeavours and spearheads initiatives such as IMDA’s Chief Technology Officer-as-a-Service programme, aimed at empowering SMEs in their digital transformation journeys.

As organisations navigate the complexities of digital evolution, Tan offers insights into fostering adaptability, mitigating technology risks, and harnessing emerging technologies to drive business growth. She, as a judge in the SBR Technology Excellence Awards 2024, delves into strategies for organisational agility, mitigating cybersecurity threats, and harnessing the potential of emerging technologies, amongst other key topics.

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, how do you advise organisations to stay agile and adaptable to emerging trends and disruptions in the market?

  • Embrace a growth mindset – Rethink your role as a business driver. It is no longer about doing the same business in old, primitive ways. Instead, you need to redefine your role, identify ways to improve work efficiency, and digitally deliver your product/service to your customers. Tap on technology domain experts within your core team and/or partner with the right IT-managed services partner to provide advice on how best to leverage the right digital tools to transform your business.
  • Stay agile and adaptable – Always be alert to new emerging technology and be open to exploring the use of technology to manage your backend and deliver your product/service faster, cheaper, and more personalised.
  • Re-imagine the use of technology – Challenge yourself to disrupt your business with technology. How can you create a unique customer experience? How can you accelerate business growth in today’s borderless business environment?

In your opinion, what strategies have you found most effective in fostering digital transformation within SMEs, particularly those facing resource constraints or technological barriers?

Regardless of constraints, the business owner must drive digital transformation within the company. To avoid trial and error, tap on available resources, learn from success cases, and adapt them to fit your purpose. SMEs can consider working with the Institute of Higher Learnings and agencies like IMDA to tap into ideas, digital talents, and available government initiatives with funding to simplify going digital and grow their digital capabilities. IMDA’s CTO as-a-Service is one of the many such nationwide programmes where businesses can tap on professional digital consultants at no cost to kick start their transformation journey and get more hands-holding and support.

Given your background in financial work and internal audit, how do you advise organisations to strike the right balance between investing in digital transformation initiatives and managing financial risks associated with such initiatives?

Setting a realistic budget to embark on digital transformation is an important risk management factor. You can increase your success rate with co-funding from the government, with the added advantage of learning from your peers or success stories.

In today’s digital world, it is a matter of “when,” not "if,” you will encounter a cyberattack or data breach. To safeguard your business against mounting cyber risk, cyber insurance provides a good safety net that alleviates the financial consequences should something occur.

Drawing from your experience overseeing a team specialising in IT security managed services for key local telecom companies, what cybersecurity threats do you see on the horizon, and how can organisations proactively mitigate these risks?

Phishing and Man-In-The-Middle attacks will continue to be the growing trends in 2024, impacting every business regardless of its size and business nature. Besides implementing effective IT solutions to authenticate between two communication points, having regular cyber hygiene training for employees to raise their awareness of cyber threats and implementing an effective IT policy across your organisation are the two fundamental and cost-effective preventive measures to mitigate cyber risks.

How do you see emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain reshaping traditional business models, and what implications do these disruptions have for organisations across various industries?

Emerging technologies will be imperative to the success of many businesses. This presents an unprecedented opportunity to improve productivity and customer experience but it also introduces a new set of security challenges and risks. As customers’ expectations for more personalised service and AI integration increase, businesses will be forced to adopt these technologies or be left out in today’s competitive business landscape. But being a double-edged sword, businesses must also be mindful and educate their employees on the safe and responsible use of these technologies. The broader sectors and industries must also come together and collaborate for a common approach and best practice for its responsible use.

As a judge at the SBR Technology Excellence Awards, could you provide insights into the specific criteria or benchmarks you use to evaluate the innovation and effectiveness of the technologies being considered for recognition?

My assessment will be the practicality and ease of use by end-users. It is important to assess how the technology is able to solve a pain point and how it can simplify the interpretation of the data.

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