Small & Medium Businesses Can Lead Asian Pacific Growth

 Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) have a lot to gain from embracing digital technologies (digitalisation) into their existing business models, which would improve productivity while opening up new revenue streams. 

According to the Cisco 2020 APAC SMB Digital Maturity Study– amid COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 70 percent of SMEs in Asia Pacific are stepping up the pace of digitizing their businesses. Achieving digital maturity, SMEs could contribute considerably to Asia Pacific’s GDP for approximately US$3.1 Trillion by 2024 and thereby facilitate an economic recovery. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgency for greater digitisation among the SME community is greater than ever to ‘survive and thrive in the new norm’.

According to JobsDB’s “Hiring, Compensation & Benefits Survey,” conducted in September 2020 by an independent research institute sampling 436 companies, 72% of those surveyed adopted work from home arrangements at some point. Isaac Shao, Chief Executive Officer of JobsDB Hong Kong, emphasized the need for digitalisation, particularly the development of a ‘digital first’ workforce, is of paramount importance in ensuring business continuity for different sized businesses including SMEs. “In view of the rising demand for digital profiles with expected pay rises owing to their in-demand expertise, digital talents will help businesses better cater to consumer behaviours online. Meanwhile, less than a half of surveyed employers have provided on-the-job skills training.” 

The current acceleration of Hong Kong’s vaccination programme should also result in the gradual return of consumer confidence. However, spending will only recover as fast as the rate at which people feel confident about becoming mobile again. 

“While we recognize that companies must devote resources to coping with the operational problems posed by COVID-19, we expect that greater effort should be put into staff training in order to maintain healthy business growth.” 

The need to accelerate digitisation

The Cisco 2020 APAC SMB Digital Maturity Study also indicated that all Asia Pacific markets are becoming more digitally mature, with Indonesiaand Vietnam making considerable gains. With no changes in their rankings from 2019, Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand continue to dominate the Digital Observers group. Mainland China, Taiwan, and Thailand, on the other hand, outperformed Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.

The job market has also been affected by automation and new technology, with traditional occupations rapidly disappearing and roles involving the “workforce of the future” promptly rising.  

Hence, attracting and retaining digitally-savvy ‘best talent’ is equally as important. 

In order to help SMEs with pursuing their digital transformation plans, JobsDB is launching a 3-part Webinar series titled ‘Driving Digital Transformation to Future-Proof Your Business’.

The first Webinar, scheduled for 22 July 2021, will share insights to help SMEs assemble a digital transformation toolkit appropriate for their businesses through a high-powered panel discussion from industry leaders. The second Webinar will be on creating a hybrid workplace while building your company’s future talent acquisition strategies, while the third Webinar will focus on creating an internal mobility strategy, providing advice on how to upskill and re-skill existing staff.  

The Webinars’ dealing with digital talent acquisition also come at an opportune time, as a 2019 report from EY noted that a lack of access to digital talent (64.7%) was one of the top three challenges that Southeast Asian SMEs face with digital transformation. 

This challenge is also one that JobsDB, which is part of the SEEK Group, can assist SMEs with via FutureLearn, a public research university and the largest university in the UK for undergraduate education. FutureLearn is also one of the world’s most reputable open online course learning platforms, and as of June 2020, included 175 UK and international partners, including non-university partners.

Courses being offered include cybersecurity, programming, big data analytics and digital marketing, and organisations are encouraged to get their employees to enrol. 

Webinar attendees would also be able to download the Decoding Global Talent 2020, one of the largest surveys ever of labour trends and work preferences (280k people in 190 countries) conducted jointly between the Boston Consulting Group and network of online international recruitment companies such as JobStreet and JobsDB in this region.

To register for the webinar series, please click here.