Three in 10 business leaders also struggle to find the right talent for their companies.
Only four in 10 Singapore business leaders are confident that their companies’ revenues will grow over the next 12 months amidst increasing trade tensions, according to PwC’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO survey.
Considerably, the figure is still higher than the average 35% found across APEC business leaders, the firm noted.
“Whilst business leaders do not like uncertainty in any aspect of their business, let alone trade flows, they are learning to adapt to the new reality of trade restrictions and are findings ways to thrive,” PwC Singapore executive chairman Yeoh Oon Jin said.
Amidst global uncertainties, 65% of Singapore business leaders surveyed still plan to increase their investments over 2019 versus 51% across APEC.
The study also noted that only 39% of Singapore business leaders created more jobs, with 19% actively reducing headcount as a direct impact of technology on their workforce, despite the finding that the market for employment is looking positive.
“The right talent is not always readily available with 29% (versus 34% across APEC) of business leaders struggling to find the people that they need with the right skills and experience,” PwC added. “The gap is felt acutely across science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.”
PwC also found that the top investment priority for business leaders is digital customer interactions, with 25% of Singaporean business leaders doing so. The study also noted that 17% prioritised developing digital products and 16% improving operations with technology such as automation and data, versus 13% and 14% across APEC, respectively.
Meanwhile, only 8% of companies in Singapore viewed themselves as highly competitive in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), the survey noted, with 44% not making use of AI at all. According to the survey, 20% of APEC businesses experienced the biggest increase in new barriers in technology with moving data across borders in 2017.
“As companies in Singapore look to both digitalise and expand into markets outside Singapore, data flows will increasingly drive growth,” Yeoh added.
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