INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Contributed Content, Singapore
Manish Shah

Singapore's digital future is bright but how do companies survive and thrive?


Globalisation, digitalisation and automation are fundamentally changing the way businesses interact with their customers and the way people work. The good news for Singapore is that it is one of Asia’s, if not the world’s, most digitally advanced nations when it comes to digital adoption and transformation.

According to the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), the Lion City has topped the Asian Digital Transformation Index for the second time this year alone. This is attributed to the widespread availability of reliable, fast and affordable digital connectivity, combined with the successful implementation of ICT infrastructure including 5G development plans and a fibre network rollout.

With a reliable ICT infrastructure, Singaporeans are more digitally advanced as customers and as workers too. Additional research conducted by Verint and Opinium Research LLC, drawing on interviews with more than 2,000 people shows that Singaporeans are more comfortable than their regional neighbours having their enquiries attended to digitally. Whilst they like to speak to someone in person or on the phone for support at times (37%), the data shows that overall they prefer to engage digital channels for self-assistance and stand on their own two feet (63%).

Further, in the workplace, Singaporeans aren’t as concerned about being replaced by robots as their Australian or Japanese counterparts and instead actually acknowledge the need for AI and automation and are more inclined to accept that tasks and processes are now largely automated. The study also found that close to 70% of Singaporean workers are willing to try new technologies and ways of working in order to be more efficient or productive. This is higher than the report’s global average (63%) and just behind India (76%).

Singapore is on a mission to globally lead the way in digital transformation. And it’s astute Smart Nation vision is helping the nation stride ahead in digital adoption as it carves out its digital future. However, more needs to be done, especially when it comes to building digital workforces of the future. This is acknowledged by the Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad who last month announced a new HR Industry Advisory Panel with the purpose to hone in on the development of the nation’s future workforces.

Hybrid workforces: the key to surviving and thriving the digital future
In this new era of accelerated digital economic growth, workforces need to fundamentally change in response to rapid digital and technological advances. There is growing urgency for businesses to reshape their workforces in a way that seamlessly integrates smart technologies whilst building talent through skills development to ensure every job is a better job, every worker is a better worker and every customer experience is a better experience.

How do you go about this?

There are 3 key steps:

  • Understand the impact of digital transformation on the business
  • Define the impact of digital technologies on your overall workforce requirements
  • Have a plan in place to optimise workforce development to meet your future digital needs

There are some local companies already doing this exceptionally well– especially the banks. As technology continues to overhaul jobs in the financial sector, banks have to “rejuvenate” their workforces.

With more and more customers self-servicing through the use of bank chatbots, self-service platforms and interactive virtual agents, leaders must change their traditional workforce dynamics and evolve traditional jobs in order to manage digital change.

Banks have positively responded to digital transformation by identifying and addressing workforce skills gaps, redesigning jobs and upskilling and training their people to ensure a smooth transition to new roles.

DBS is a prime example of this. The bank has reskilled more than 500 contact-centre employees over the last 12 months to take on 13 new roles as part of its digital transformation strategy including roles like a digital evangelist and scrum master.

Digital evangelists encourage customers to use DBS' digital channels through monthly roadshows at community centres or bank branches. Scrum masters help their colleagues use a project management methodology called Agile to solve problems.

Other banks have introduced roles such as data intelligence and automation manager, multi-channel service adviser and digital engagement adviser.

As you can see in the banking sector, the hybrid workforce - the intersection between technology and human-assisted services - is already being fully explored.

However, whilst the banking sector has leapt ahead with changing its approach to workforce planning in order to build a workforce for the digital future, the challenge is now for other sectors to move quickly in rejuvenating their workforces too.

Companies that survive and thrive in the digital future are the ones who will adopt some version of a hybrid workforce where technologies work in tandem with talent in the business. The Chief Experience Officer (CXO) and other senior leaders need to collectively determine the best hybrid workforce make-up which could include range of smart technologies including self-service technologies matched with appropriate skills and talent.

Delivering enhanced customer experience, improved operational efficiencies and reduced costs, with a hybrid workforce companies can’t go wrong.

The opportunity is to act quickly and not get left behind. 

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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Manish Shah

Manish Shah

Manish Shah is the Vice President for Southeast Asia Customer Engagement Solutions at Verint Systems. He is a highly regarded and respected senior business leader in the Asia Pacific region with more than 30 years of business technology, customer engagement, and management experience.

Since joining Verint 18 years ago as the first employee in the APAC region, Manish has been instrumental in expanding Verint’s multi-fold growth by winning enterprise customers in Telco, BFSI and BPO verticals in ASEAN and South Asian countries. Under his leadership, Verint Southeast Asia has established itself as an absolute leader in the region’s Customer Engagement Optimisation and now has more than 70 staff across the region.

Manish is passionate about digital transformation, analytics, and automation and is often invited to speak on BPO, Shared Services, Customer Experience and Customer Engagement. His expertise and insights is sought after by clients, IT and technology professionals, the media and other industry influencers.

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