Transforming our technology landscape to deliver exceptional customer experiences
This is the third piece in a series of blogs by Phuah Aik Chong, Astro Chief Technology Officer
Astro’s enterprise wide Digital Transformation programme impacts both the company’s culture and its overall technology landscape.
In the previous article I shared how we are building a sustainable innovation culture at Astro. This month I will be sharing the accelerated Technology Transformation journey we are going through to support our Digital, Cloud and Mobile First, Analytics Driven strategy.
We have structured the Technology Transformation programme across a number of workstreams involving many Astrolites across the organisation. All of us are going through these changes on top of our day jobs and I want to thank everyone for their dedication and enthusiasm. We have accomplished quite a bit over the last 6 months, learnt a lot along the way, but definitely there is more to come!
How will each of the workstreams contribute to the overall Astro Technology Transformation?
Each workstream in the programme drives specific targeted outcomes. The combination and continuous iteration of all these changes is really what creates the overall transformation to our technology landscape.
People & Processes
People & Processes are key to ensuring the success of the Technology Transformation. We are redefining how we leverage, design, deploy and operate Technology from the ideation stage of new products or services, through to architecture, security, development and operations.
Our Technology Transformation can only succeed if our teams are trained on the new, exciting technologies we are rolling out. To support this, we have started a multi-tier Certified Technologist Programmme to equip our teams with the new skills they need to securely design, build, deploy and operate our new offerings, and also to refactor and migrate our existing services to the Cloud.
Our employees are also being trained on Agile and DevOps to enable our Business, Development and Operations teams to collaborate without barriers and constantly align our products and services to meet our customer needs and expectations. We are also reviewing our processes to align them to Agile, DevOps, Cloud Security and Operations best practices and to take advantage of the automation capabilities of the Cloud environment.
It is also key for us to bring in new talents to jump-start this journey while we upskill the existing team. We do face challenges in finding these new skillsets in Malaysia and for selected skillsets foreign expertise were brought in to augment the team.
This workstream helps us to build the “landing zone” to support our Cloud First strategy. Leveraging on AWS expertise, we are establishing our Cloud Architecture standards and optimising our IT infrastructure spend by taking advantage of Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances, right-sizing the compute instances and automating the shutdown of development and test instances during non-business hours, for example.
We are also analysing our entire application portfolio, breaking it down into multiple waves and establishing an Application Migration Factory which will define and execute the best cloud migration approach for each of our applications.
We continue to ensure that security is at the forefront of everything we do. We are making sure our customer data, our products and services, and internal enterprise data are always protected. Security in the cloud relies on similar principles to that of traditional enterprise IT security, but implemented differently. This workstream ensures that our security risk posture is being enhanced continuously and we establish security as an organisational habit from the inception of new business ideas throughout the entire lifecycle. This is definitely an area that keeps us awake at night as there is just so much “innovation” going on out there that we can’t afford to lose sight of it.
The Cloud Operations workstream will significantly accelerate our innovation capabilities by giving our developers access to standardised, hardened, automated and self-service based consumption of cloud services. Our Cloud Operations will rely on full automation and Infrastructure as Code in order to increase the repeatability, agility, availability and security which will ultimately help us to deliver better SLAs and consistent user experiences. This Cloud Operating Model and our Cloud Architecture Standards ensure we adopt Cloud in the right way.
Big Data Analytics & AI
This workstream will further accelerate Astro’s capability to leverage on data to gain actionable insights and competitive advantage. We continue to invest in analytics and gather usage data from the various digital products and services we have. On top of the traditional datawarehouse we have recently built the Astro Data Lake in AWS. The Data Lake will also accelerate the use of new data sources to support quicker innovation cycles.
We are already working on multiple Analytics use cases across different business units in Astro. These initiatives will help us to further refine our understanding of our customer base across both households and individuals, ultimately enabling personalisation across all our products and services.
We have enabled personalised content recommendation across our video on demand service on the connected set top boxes and OTT video streaming services (Astro GO and NJOI Now). Similarly personalised product recommendation is available on our Go Shop ecommerce web portal.
We are accelerating the pace of building AI driven, intuitive experiences for our customers and optimising internal efficiency through the automation of repeatable tasks. AI has been adopted to provide virtual assistants (chatbots) across a number of products and customer self serve solutions. There are a lot more in the pipeline and clearly this is an exciting area in which the team is having a lot of fun experimenting and building new services.
DevOps & Agile
This workstream brings the glue required to assemble all the components of our transformation. Agile will help us to constantly align our products and services to what our customers want (based on our improved Analytics capabilities) by avoiding the “tunnel effect” which so many Waterfall projects are facing.
It also increases our speed to delivery by breaking the silos between our business units and our developers. Iterative and self-improving collaboration between our business product owners, developers and testers will help the team make quicker and better informed decisions regarding the features they collectively decide to deliver. We have had a number of products delivered using the Scrum methodology and we will soon take it to the next level with Business Agile, a holistic end-to-end Agile approach to product life-cycle management, supporting our Innovation ambitions.
Finally, by deploying Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery, Automated Testing and Infrastructure as Code, we are further accelerating our coding, building, testing and deployment cycles and establishing a seamless collaboration between development and operations teams. We are reducing the amount of human interaction in every step of the process which increases efficiency and reduces the risk of errors.
Hopefully this holistic approach to Technology Transformation will enable us to unleash the potential of the new digital innovations, while we continue to deliver flawless services and improve on economic performance and quality standards.
We have been focused in laying the foundations in the past 6 months and we are now ready to accelerate!
Click here to read previous blog entries.