SOFTWARE as a service (SaaS) has become increasingly prevalent in organisations. This cloud-based software solution lets you access apps over the Internet without having to instal or manage any hardware or software.
SaaS solutions have been the technological foundation for Asian businesses to expand their capabilities, including investing in data analytics, marketing automation and deep tech such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
In Southeast Asia, governments are driving cloud infrastructure adoption. Singapore, for example, has encouraged competition through cloud ecosystems and even developed several standards for cloud security. According to the IDC FutureScape 2022 report, the total public cloud services market in Southeast Asia will reach USD11 billion valuation by 2025, at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 21.5%.
The same IDC report indicates that one out of three ASEAN companies will generate 15% of their revenues from digital products and services, while 25% of large corporations will see a 20% improvement in information usage by 2026.
According to an analysis by the Yusof Ishak Institute, ASEAN as a group has a moderately developed regulatory framework for cybersecurity and non-personal data, with several countries at a basic level for personal data protection. This growth of SaaS in Southeast Asia has consequently spurred governments to enact legislation to protect business and personal data, pushing organisations to adopt globalised standards for data security and privacy protection.
Overall, SaaS has enabled businesses to jumpstart their digital transformation, aside from increasing efficiency and creating value, being digital also allows businesses to be better positioned to take advantage of the next leap in software technology, the advent of AI tools
In Southeast Asia, businesses are looking to invest in unified cloud platforms that offer interoperable services on-demand, and be able to quickly and easily deploy new features and services for their customers. The integration of AI programs for analysis and automation has enabled many businesses to extract insightful intelligence from different data sources. Customised applications can also be easily programmed on integrated low-code platforms.
Adding interoperability, the ability of different applications to work together seamlessly, to the equation is, therefore, the key to expanding capabilities without accruing technical debt. Even today, many businesses in Southeast Asia are experimenting with new cloud-based technologies such as machine learning and blockchain. With the wealth of options, unified cloud platforms come out on top because they offer a complementary solution that’s integrated and effectively addresses the day-to-day needs of businesses.
While there are plenty of advancements across the tech space, interoperability that allows organizations to do more with less is likely to be key. According to the ‘Earning Digital Trust’ report by the World Economic Forum, interoperability will also come to define IR 4.0 technologies, through added security and reliability
Businesses will also be looking at how deep-tech such as AI and ML can further drive their offerings. Generative AI technologies like ChatGPT are industry transformative. We will be seeing innovations across every industry based on its potential. As such, when it comes to business application of AI and ML, consolidation of data in an unified cloud platform will help technology to make smarter decisions. This will enable the business to derive insights from a single source of truth, and to automate outcomes that are aligned with business goals.
This unification is important for future usage of AI chatbot technology along with customer experience platforms. The more contextual the data fed in to AI systems, the better the value of your technology platform.
As SaaS markets grow and expand across regions and countries, vendors will be more digitally aware of their offerings, and make specific adaptations to fit new technology into their field of expertise to provide their customers better solutions.
Gibu Mathew is VP and GM APAC of Zoho Corp a global SaaS vendor with more than 80 million users. Its flagship application, Zoho CRM, enhances businesses’ customer engagement. Zoho One provides an integrated system enhanced by its AI sales assistant, Zia, which enhances decision-making by working across all Zoho applications. Zoho Desk enables multi-channel engagement and data-driven insights to anticipate customers’ needs.