Study reveals how tech made SMEs more agile, resilient

    507

    SAP Study: APAC SMEs are adapting well to new realities
    of a remote-first business environment

    A survey conducted on 2,000 senior executives from small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) across 19 countries and industries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region demonstrated how these organizations are uniquely positioned to adapt and thrive in the dynamic and distributed post-COVID-19 business environment.

    Conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the SAP-commissioned study also delved into the priorities, challenges, and digital maturity of SMEs. Of the total respondents, 832 were from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and South Korea.

    Called “Digital Resilient, and Experience-driven: How Small and Midsize Organizations Can Prepare for the New Economy,” the study revealed that APAC SMEs are well positioned to adapt to a remote working environment by taking swift actions to implement and adjust remote work arrangements for employees adapting quickly while applying the needed technologies. 77 percent reported that they adjusted remote work arrangements for employees, as compared to respondents in Europe (75 percent) and the Americas (71 percent).

    Additionally, 61 percent of APAC SMEs quickly created remote work set-ups for employees, while 69 percent invested in IT and collaboration solutions to support remote access and/or online learning. Interestingly, 10 percent of APAC SMEs reported that the pandemic has no impact on their ability to accommodate remote work and maintain employee productivity.

    “SMEs across the region—like their counterparts around the world—have certain advantages over larger competitors in terms of agility and closeness to the customer,” Edward Cone, Editorial Director of Thought Leadership and Technology Practice Lead at Oxford Economics said.

    On top of supporting business continuity during this period, these SMEs are also actively exploring new channels to get their products and services to customers (66 percent, vs. 64 percent in the Americas and 59 percent in Europe) and developing new products and service offerings (46 percent, vs. 40 percent in the Americas and 49 percent in Europe).

    “Yet even before the pandemic, SMEs in APAC also faced meaningful challenges in keeping up the pace of digital transformation” Cone added.

    Technology continues to play an increasingly critical role in helping APAC SMEs achieve business success in the new digital environment, the study also took a closer look at digital maturity levels of these businesses across the region.

    Many APAC SMEs say they have made moderate progress toward digital transformation (39 percent), and 21 percent have made substantial progress or completely transformed; within three years, 19 percent expect to have completely transformed.

    In terms of technological adoption, HR/Talent management software is furthest along (66 percent), followed by Governance and Cybersecurity software (63 percent) and Finance and Risk management software (59 percent). Respondents reported that these technologies are either in use in some applications/projects or are already in use at scale.

    With technology set to play an increasingly critical role in helping APAC SMEs achieve business success in the new digital environment, the study also took a closer look at digital maturity levels of these businesses across the region.

    Many APAC SMEs say they have made moderate progress toward digital transformation (39 percent), and 21 percent have made substantial progress or completely transformed; within three years, 19 percent expect to have completely transformed. In terms of technological adoption, HR/Talent management software is furthest along (66 percent), followed by Governance and Cybersecurity software (63 percent) and Finance and Risk management software (59 percent). Respondents reported that these technologies are either in use in some applications/projects or are already in use at scale.

    Mobile devices and mobile business process enablement, and business management solutions (ERP software) share the top spot in terms of pilot implementation, and APAC SMEs are actively considering emerging technologies, AI/ML and Internet of Things (IoT) as their main investment priority

    The road to success does, however, bring challenges. Today, APAC SMEs consider the upskilling/reskilling of the current workforce (30 percent), lack of coordination between different departments (29 percent), and inability to gain insights from data (28 percent)  as key internal challenges. In terms of external challenges, APAC SMEs cite changing customer wants and needs (40 percent), competition from larger organisations (39 percent), and adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace (27 percent) as obstacles to their business success.

    “Today’s new normal requires businesses to pivot and adapt with speed. SMEs in the region seem to understand that the sense of urgency to digitally transform their businesses will give them an advantage through the pandemic and beyond,” Claus Andresen, SAP’s SVP & Head of General Business (SME) and Emerging Markets Growth, Asia Pacific & Japan said.

    “I am confident SMEs in the region will be able to emerge stronger, having forged closer bonds with customers and employees while developing innovative services and products that will put them on a strong growth trajectory as the world economy recovers,” concluded Andresen.

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here