INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Over half of SMBs ignore government digitalisation initiatives

This is despite firms being hampered by the lack of digital talent and data.

In terms of government initiatives geared towards digitalisation of small and medium businesses (SMB), about 41.4% said they are aware of government initiatives that support SMBs and have already benefited from them. On the other hand, 52.9% have not taken part in these programs.

Despite being the most digitally mature across 14 countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, SMBs in Singapore still continue to face hurdles to digital transformation, according to tech conglomerate Cisco’s APAC SMB Digital Maturity Index.

Respondents said they are being held back by the lack of digital skills and talent within my organization (16.7%), lack of insight into operational and customer data (16.7%) and lack of perceived value for digital transformation in their industry (13.1%).

The index, which was developed by research firm IDC based on an independent survey of 1,340 respondents, looked at digital maturity of SMBs across four business dimensions comprising technology adoption and application, digital transformation strategy and organization, processes and governance, and the capability to source, manage and retain the right talent to enable their digital transformation.

That said, SMBs in Singapore were classified into the ‘Digital Observer’ stage of digital maturity, which is defined as being one where companies’ digital efforts are heavily focused on processes automation to achieve efficiencies.

“The level of maturity of SMBs in Singapore is best exemplified by the technologies that they are prioritising, with cybersecurity being the top technology they are investing in at 16.7%. This highlights that they are placing security front and centre of their digital transformation journey,” Cisco noted.

Cloud systems were also found to be the top technology SMBs are investing in (12.9%), which is said to be in line with the trend of cloud adoption across the region as the technology allows SMBs to scale rapidly without significant upfront capital investment in IT infrastructure.

Singapore’s SMBs also focused on adopting analytics technologies, with 11.2% of respondents listing it as one of the top three technologies they are investing in. Singapore and China are the only countries in the Asia Pacific region where analytics solutions ranks in the top three technology investments.

“SMBs in Singapore are often the first to embed digital technologies into the business to amplify their size, presence and competitiveness in the market. As a result, they are the first to benefit from productivity improvements, efficiency gains and new revenue opportunities,” Tay Bee Kheng, managing director, Singapore, Cisco, said in a statement. 

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