As if the local channel needed more proof that Singapore was a top market for IT adoption, a new study has found that Singaporean businesses were more likely to adopt technologies and develop a long-term technology strategy than their Asian region counterparts over the past year.
This is according to a survey by professional accounting body CPA Australia, which surveyed professionals across industries in Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore, asking respondents about the past and expected technology use of their respective businesses.
Not only did the survey reveal that Singapore claimed a higher proportion of businesses that adopted new technologies over the past year than other countries in the region, it also revealed that, over the coming year, around 70 per cent of high growth businesses in Singapore plan to invest in data analytics and visualisation software.
The findings also suggested that Singapore's businesses were the most likely to invest in robotic process automation (RPA), while just over half of surveyed businesses in the city-state plan to put money in business intelligence software.
"Technologies such as data analytics and RPA allow employees to deliver greater value to the organisation and their customers,” said Max Loh, managing partner for EY, Singapore and Brunei, and Singapore divisional president at CPA Australia. “This enables them to stand out in a competitive and uncertain business environment.”
Moreover, the research highlighted a correlation between technology investment and growth.
Specifically, the findings suggested that Singaporean businesses that didn't grow over the past 12 months were less likely to have undertaken a technology project and had more limited resources to invest in technology.
According to CPA Australia, the survey found that the key drivers for adopting technologies were improving operational efficiency, enhancing the customer experience and fostering collaboration among employees.
"In the current digital economy, it is essential for employees to be able to focus on more value-adding work. A relatively simple and cost-effective way for small businesses to digitalise is implementing RPA, which automates repetitive and mundane tasks," said Loh.
However, barriers to technology adoption were also present in the survey findings, with high growth businesses nominating complex legacy systems and a shortage of technology talent as the top two challenges they faced in technology adoption.
Meanwhile, businesses that did not expand within the survey’s nominated time frame cited employee pushback, lack of technology understanding within management, legacy systems and financial constraints as the main challenges to technology adoption.
"While financial constraints are a key challenge, particularly for smaller businesses, several incentives are available for businesses to tap,” Loh said. “The Singapore Government introduced an Investment Allowance scheme, available till March 2023, to help businesses manage the cost of implementing automation solutions. In the accounting sector, the RPA Adoption Support Scheme provides funding for the use of baseline RPA technologies.
"Singapore has been facing a technology talent crunch, and technology jobs will continue to be in strong demand over the next few years. Training and upskilling of local digital talent is critical, particularly in skills such as programming, cyber security and data analytics,” he added.
It should, perhaps, come as little surprise that Singapore has been ranked as the top market in the local region in terms of business technology adoption. The Singapore government has invested no small amount of money and focus on its technology sector.
In July this year, for example, the Singapore government said it would invest S$70 million (US$50 million) in communications and connectivity research, a move that sees it hand out grants, develop new testbeds and support local communications tech talent.
The funding, provided by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), comes under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) plan to launch Singapore’s first national Future Communications Research & Development Program (FCP).
It is hoped the investment will help to grow Singapore’s local capability to “translate” communications and connectivity research into innovative products, services and companies. The government said it views investment in research and innovation as key to building solutions for the future and staying at the forefront of the digital economy.