INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Leaders advance digital investments to future-proof from disruptions

Majority of Singaporean businesses are confident that they will survive the next global fallout.

Singaporean leaders remain on track with their digital transformation (DX) initiatives as they expressed confidence that they will be able to survive the next global disruption, according to a survey commissioned by ICT (information and communication technology) company, Fujitsu Asia.

Despite ongoing economic pressures, only 22% of the 100 local business leaders surveyed said that they plan to reduce their DX budgets, whilst one in three kept their budgets unchange

One quarter (25%) of the respondents shared that they increased their in-house initiatives in order to support DX operations, whilst 13% tapped more often on the expertise of third-party vendors.

Respondents are also optimistic of their changes during the post-COVID era, with 84% rating their preparedness level at 6 and above (out of 10). Close to half (47%) rated it between 8 and 10.

“The pandemic spotlighted DX’s role as a necessity to help organisations stay resilient in the face of major disruptions, and the importance of safe-guarding the security aspect of data, network and cloud platforms. Yet the future-proofing of businesses goes far beyond protocols and technology—organisations need to transform in ways that ensure that both employees and customers trust the outcome, a key pillar in successful DX strategies,” says Motohiko Uno, president, Fujitsu Asia.

Amongst industries, the banking sector was most likely to be in-sourcing its digital initiatives, with 61% indicating so.

Meanwhile, the engineering sector reported the greatest increase, with one in three respondents from the sector saying that they are in-sourcing their DX initiatives more than they were before.

However, the engineering sector also experienced the most budget cuts, with half or 50% of respondents from the sector indicating this.

The education sector is most likely to maintain their IT/DX budgets (42%), whilst the public sector was most likely to report a budget increase (50%).

In terms of priority, 70% of respondents cited data security as their top priority, followed by network security (48%) and cloud security (44%).

Businesses were already investing in cloud capabilities even before the disruption brought about by COVID-19, noted Fujitsu Asia. Singaporean leaders shared that their top cloud investment focus priority is “just getting on the cloud” (29%). The survey also found that 22% of businesses are allocating resources and budget to cloud security.  

As for what were the top challenges following the onset of the pandemic, collaboration (26%) and security (23%) were the two most-cited challenges.

The education sector’s main pain point proved to be collaboration (42%). One in two respondents in the healthcare sector also cited collaboration as their biggest IT challenge as they coped with the workload at the frontlines, the survey noted.

However, the biggest challenge for healthcare leaders is company culture, with 67% citing this.

For banking, the main challenge is security (67%). Meanwhile, the transportation sector said that its primary IT challenge was external communication (33%).

Businesses also shared the three biggest challenges they face in building resilience into their businesses: workflow and process complexity (53%), security (49%) and resiliency (37%).

Since the start of the pandemic, businesses said that they placed high priority on two key areas in terms of resiliency – minimizing downtime to maintain maximum customer availability, and adapting their business model to the reality of the circuit-breaker measures.

Respondents also shared that they placed a higher priority on maintaining or increasing productivity among staff, compared to promoting optimism or maintaining headcount stability.

Moving forward, leaders cited working from home (55%), better business continuity planning (41%) and collaboration (40%) as their top three priorities in future-proofing themselves against the next COVID-level disruption.

Respondents however ranked the need to foster a data-driven or innovation culture on a low priority. This is despite successful DX initiatives often being the result of combining technological, structural and cultural transformation, noted Fujitsu Asia.

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