Industries worldwide are coming to terms with a period of uncertain recovery but firms in Singapore can be certain about one thing – re-evaluating business strategy is required in these changing times.
Reactive measures to recover from the pandemic may no longer cut it in a post-COVID Asia Pacific. Consumer behaviours have changed and will continue to change. Moreover, recovery depends on numerous factors, including permanent changes and evolving market expectations.
To improve resilience and flexibility, businesses must leverage the right technologies, future-proof their supply chain, and prioritise the wellbeing of employees.
Digitalisation for agility
Globally, the pandemic sped up digital adoption. No matter the size, businesses worldwide are aware that digitalising puts them in a better position to act swiftly and navigate a disruptive landscape. In Singapore, we’ve seen companies across different sectors launching digital offerings and services. 72% of Singaporean companies have had to accelerate their digital transformation plans, with 84% of firms increasing their budget for this.
Along with accelerated digital transformation, customer behaviours also evolved. Singapore saw 37% of consumers increasing their online shopping activities whilst 31% have reduced time spent at brick-and-mortar stores. Such changes are likely to continue post-pandemic. To keep pace, organisations must digitalise and leverage big data for analysis. These help businesses predict consumer and market changes and create a personalised experience for customers online. Based on interactions with customers, personalising digital offerings goes a long way toward increasing convenience and adding value to their business.
That said, adopting the right technologies will not be enough. Manufacturers must build agile capabilities throughout the business to interpret insights, make decisions based on data, and act quickly to pursue opportunities and resolve issues.
Maintaining a robust supply chain
The pandemic also revealed the fragile nature of global supply chains, especially those involving single source products. In March, the Institute of Supply Management found that 75% of businesses faced disruptions when the pandemic first hit. Products were in short supply as factories shut down or reduced output and transport restrictions were implemented. Providing parts and supplies, specifically for manufacturing customers in essential services, remained priority in Singapore and the rest of Asia Pacific.
Maintaining a strong inventory and a consistent supply of products is key and having a diverse supply chain by sourcing from multiple suppliers and product ranges also brings more resiliency to Singaporean businesses.
A people-centric mindset
Throughout this period of uncertainty, it’s also important for businesses to invest in workplace safety and wellbeing of employees. This should be an integral component of the business strategy. Establishing flexible working practices and providing resources to help people stay mentally and physically well boosts productivity and enables companies to continue serving clients and ensure the safety of people.
Looking ahead, businesses can expect the number of employees working remotely to be higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. Studies show that 9 out of 10 Singaporeans prefer to continue working from home to some extent moving forward. Across ASEAN, Singapore workers are most likely to continue working from home in the future.
With these insights in mind, Singapore business leaders and entrepreneurs have a fantastic opportunity to empower people by making wellbeing a core component of their strategy. Employee support - from providing PPE and enhancing health and safety measures at the workplace, to using digital collaboration tools - foster an environment where people feel comfortable and motivated to work together.
These kinds of changes may seem costly and complex at first glance, but these build the resilience of people and the business in the long run. Putting wellbeing first, accelerating digital transformation, and ensuring supply chain continuity help business recovery stay on track and enable companies to be more agile and prepared to handle disruptions and volatility ahead.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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As the Asia Pacific president of RS Components, Sean is responsible for leading the commercial and operational areas of the APAC region including, business transformation, strategic direction and growth strategies to enable increased customer satisfaction, supplier engagement, sales effectiveness and operational excellence.
Throughout his career, Sean has undertaken international commercial and operational leadership assignments across 4 continents, with majority of his time in senior executive roles in the APAC region.
Ahead of joining RS, Sean worked in executive leadership roles in Asia Pacific as regional VP for Johnson Controls and regional MD for Parker Hannifin, both based in Singapore. Prior to relocating to Singapore, Sean was EMEA regional General Manager for Parker Hannifin based in London.