The advancement of technology has altered the course of business gradually and impactfuly. From the agricultural revolution, to the invention of the printing press – technology has played a key role in optimising work efficiency. The most important example in recent history is the internet and software boom.
What has the internet and computerized technology done for business? Created a whole new sector of it, for one. It has encouraged the emergence of idea driven entrepreneurship; which can be seen through tech giants like Zuckerberg, Jobs, and Gates.
Technology has increased the efficiency and profitability of a business. Companies are now able to deliver goods and services to consumers across the world with maximized productivity – reducing the amount of human power needed, and therefore – with the ever evolving algorithms and analytics, reducing error.
The technology employed in businesses is growing more intelligent by the minute. For example, AI driven personalized experiences are making massive strides; with the employment of Siri on the iPhone, Alexa by Amazon in the home, and auto-pilot in the car – voice assistants are quickly offering consumers what feels like a personalized encounter with technology. This personalisation enhances the experience of the consumer – and businesses that adapt to this development, will be more profitable as they meet the changing needs of consumers.
Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for most of the employment around Asia. They account for 37% of employment in India, 45% in Singapore, and 60% in China. These SMEs are increasingly using technology to help level the playing field with larger economies like the United States and Europe. 82% of SMEs in Asia are using e-commerce to steer their importing and exporting transactions. These companies reported that in 2018, 40% of their total revenue was driven solely by e-commerce, a figure that has increased by 20% since 2016.
APAC businesses are also continuing to utilise Industry 4.0 which involves employing digital tools like e-commerce and social selling to drive business decisions, resulting in increased revenue and a wider global footprint. Over 60% of these businesses reported that they would be harnessing more Industry 4.0 tactics in their upcoming fiscal year, including: mobile payment, big data, and artificial intelligence. These statistics prove that various facets of technology assist businesses of all levels in the APAC region toward advancing their global positioning and increasing profitability.
However, SMEs in Singapore face challenges that could slow their documented growth. Funding is a key obstacle that SMEs face when attempting to scale business growth. The Automation Support Package that was introduced to aid SMEs had only brought financial support to 300 organizations since its inception. Fortunately, the budget (which was initially due to expire on March 31 this year) has been extended for a further two years. Another roadblock SMEs are facing is a lack of talent and innovation. 50% of SMEs in Singapore state that sufficient manpower appears to be in short supply. This issue can be addressed by an increased focus on HR training, and introduction of cloud processes to identify talent that is most suitable for specific needs. 35% of SMEs are facing general cash-flow and money management related issues, as they experience delays in receiving payments from clients. This problem can be resolved by SME executes focusing more closely on developing meaningful relationships with clients, making it a partnership that is mutually beneficial.
Despite these challenges, businesses in the APAC region should still adopt technology as it is a driving force in business – Southeast Asia alone has seen an enormous increase in the usage of digital technology. 70 million new users in the region have accessed the internet since 2015, bringing the total number of users to 330 million. With consumers connecting rapidly through various digital channels of information, it is increasingly evident that APAC businesses are adapting deftly to meet new demand and source new streams of revenue.
Given the incredible increase in revenue across many sectors in APAC (ride hailing is valued at $5.1 billion, and e-commerce at $11 billion), and the apparent success of SMEs, it is clear that the way forward for businesses in all sectors is to optimize their use of technology in order to reach the growing consumers in the region that are looking for ways to streamline their purchasing and business decisions.