As we head towards Q4 of the fiscal year, businesses are under pressure to execute their planned activities; however, it is also an ideal time for leaders to look further afield, taking stock of what digital disruption will mean for their business, and how they can prepare as the digital world continues to evolve.

Digital disruption beyond 2020

As we enter a new decade, the world continues to become increasingly interconnected and digitised, with more business interactions happening at the edge. Businesses are coming together to exchange information and services at population centres – where the digital and physical worlds meet. By 2024, the number of applications used by businesses will increase by 800%, according to IDC. And by 2023, over half of new enterprise infrastructure deployments will be at the edge rather than traditional data centres. These transformative changes are only around the corner.

Fruits of a new digital era

It is official: we have entered a new decade and digital era. While digital innovation has disrupted many industries – from transport to retail and health care to agriculture – this phenomenon has largely opened up opportunities otherwise unthinkable for many organisations. Businesses are now empowered to reach customers across the globe with substantially less infrastructure, all the while contributing to further growth of the economy.

The figures suggest that digital ecosystems will account for more than US$60 trillion in revenue by 2025, amounting to over 30% of global corporate revenue. You only need to look at the growing pattern of countries entering into digital economy agreements to see evidence of governments mobilising for the digital future of the global economy.

Let’s take Australia and Singapore’s digital partnership as an example: both countries are launching a new digital economy agreement in the coming months, covering modern digital trade rules and cooperation on areas like e-invoicing, e-payments, artificial intelligence, digital identities and more. Australia and Singapore are defining the modern rules for cross-border data flows and localisation of computing facilities, as well as establishing benchmarks for improving safety and consumer experiences online.

Digital trade is an increasingly important way for countries to connect to the rest of world, while helping businesses reduce costs and remain competitive. According to the Export Council of Australia, its digital exports were worth around A$6 billion in 2017, equivalent to Australia’s fourth largest export sector. And this figure is only set to grow. Further interconnection bandwidth in the Asia-Pacific is anticipated to grow at a 56% CAGR, contributing more than 29% of interconnection bandwidth globally, according to the Global Interconnection Index.

The power of interconnection

The ongoing evolution of digital innovation and the power of always being interconnected enables wonderful things to happen at the intersection of connectivity and data.

It is the outcomes that need to be remembered, not just the mechanics and the how; it is the why. For example, we’re seeing increased demand from healthcare providers for a secure, high-bandwidth, low-latency connection that bypasses the public internet entirely.

Recently, one of Equinix’s healthcare clients, an electrocardiogram services specialist, spoke at length on how interconnectivity improved both their overall business performance and the insights that they were able to attain through collecting data in real-time at the edge.

They utilised an interconnected hybrid cloud environment to securely collect and analyse the heart data of more than one million patients in eight countries, sharing that data with their doctors. By enabling computing of this data to happen securely at the edge – the point of initial data capture – they were able reduce their processing workload while saving time, ultimately improving patient outcomes.

Interconnection’s promise lies in the power of the insights the technology delivers. Shareholders benefit from better business performance and more opportunities for growth with a real-time digital edge approach, while delivering wins for customers and communities.

If you take the example above, imagine the impact that enterprises can have in all sorts of industries: building stronger communities, identifying and managing trends, and improving health, safety and environmental outcomes locally and globally.

The digital era and in particular, the edge, is here to stay. CEOs must take note, prioritising and accelerating their digital readiness to capitalise on the wide range of exciting opportunities to improve deliverable outcomes.

How leaders can leverage their interests

Scaling digital disruption starts with setting the right foundations to enable change. Start by taking a holistic view of your enterprise-wide digital strategy so that you can get on the front foot with disruption. Some key things to take note of:

The journey starts with re-architecting the corporate network

  • One strategic location at a time, into a distributed set of interconnected hubs located at the digital edge. Businesses must be able to connect and interact efficiently with their partners and stakeholders. Locally interconnect networks, clouds and partners to unlock the benefits of a robust digital ecosystem.

Distribute services to the interconnected digital edge

  • This enables real-time transparency and control across the digital landscape, dramatically reducing risk. Create a more integrated digital ecosystem to allow data management more securely and extract value from massive data volumes while remaining compliant.

Develop an enablement culture

  • No amount of investment in driving digital edge disruption will be effective without the support of a rightly skilled team. The workforce needs to be empowered to make decisions around this process and be trained to manage it effectively, especially as it calls for new skills.

The message is clear: prioritise digital interconnection this year to unlock growth in new markets, improve business and financial performance, and deliver real value to your customers, staff, partners, markets, shareholders and other stakeholders.

If you don’t update your infrastructure this year and put digital innovation on the top of the business agenda, you risk being left behind.

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