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What Are the Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Singapore SMEs?

What Are the Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Singapore SMEs?

SMEs in Singapore have a lot to be optimistic about in 2022. Learn from local Singapore experts and get advice for business growth.

Each year, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) publishes their National Business Survey. This survey is sent to more than a thousand businesses across Singapore. It covers many aspects of business: sentiment, priorities and challenges, transformation and innovation, and internationalisation.

After a tumultuous couple of years, the results of the 2021/2022 report give small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) reasons to feel confident about the year ahead. The report shows how businesses are bouncing back, how their priorities have changed, and the challenges that they are still facing today.

It also explains how technology will have an important role to play in SMEs’ success.

Salesforce will be hosting an interactive live session with SBF, and leading tech association SGTech. The webinar will give SMEs tips on how to embrace digital transformation more effectively.

Challenges and opportunities for SMEs in Singapore

Nearly half of the businesses surveyed think that the economy will improve in the next year, compared to only 31% from the year before. Additionally, fewer businesses reported that they have been negatively impacted by the pandemic — only 32% this year, compared to more than 60% last year.

Businesses are more confident about the wider economy too. Satisfaction levels with the local, regional, and global economic climates are all up compared to last year.

There are still challenges ahead. For example, organisations are worried about manpower. Both the cost and availability of a qualified workforce feature on the list of concerns.

Evolving business priorities

Commercial priorities dominate the focus of many SMEs in Singapore. Growing revenue and ensuring a positive cashflow remain the top two priorities for businesses.

However, there have been some changes. Attracting and retaining talent has become a much stronger focus, rising to become the third-highest priority this year.

Here’s how the top business priorities compare, from 2020-2021 to 2021-2022:

1 Growing revenue Growing revenue
2 Ensuring positive cashflow Ensuring positive cashflow
3 Attracting/retaining talent Reducing costs
4 Reducing costs Maintaining revenue
5 Growing market share Growing market share

The power of technology

According to the report, the importance of digital transformation has been understood for some time. Sixty-five percent of SMEs surveyed said that business transformation is very important, while 29% said that it is somewhat important.

However, businesses that are interested in digital transformation face some road blocks. According to the SMEs surveyed, the top three key challenges to implementing technology were:

  • High cost of adoption (52%)
  • Upskilling employees to stay current (30%)
  • Cyber security risks (30%)

Despite these worries, the benefits of digital transformation are well understood. SMEs surveyed said that these are the top three key benefits of digital transformation:

  • Increased productivity (59%)
  • Optimised operations (48%)
  • Reduced operating costs (46%)

Businesses are working towards organisational transformation by investing in technology. A year ago, 34% of organisations surveyed said they would be investing in tech—this year that figure is 42%. Thirty-one percent of businesses are also re-engineering their processes.

The importance of governmental support

Ongoing challenges have meant that businesses are looking to governments for support more than ever.

In Singapore, SMEs have highlighted these key areas of support that they need:

  • Assistance in digitalisation (42%)
  • Financial support (39%)
  • Business strategy development advisory and consultancy services (38%)

The good news is that SMEs can access the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) programme. This initiative aims to help these businesses kickstart their technology journey by providing grant support of up to 70%. Salesforce is a pre-approved IT vendor for the program under the SMEs Go Digital programme. An enhanced maximum support level of 70% has also been extended to 7 October 2022.

What does this mean for SMEs in Singapore?

The survey findings raise several questions. What can SMEs in Singapore do to lower costs while also driving digital transformation? How can they access support to enable this? How can businesses keep up with the evolving expectations of their customers?

To answer these questions, Salesforce teamed up with SBF and SGTech. Together, we will present our webinar, SME Digitalisation Roadmap: Tips To Fueling Growth and Customer Retention in 2022.

Register for the webinar.

I’ll be joined by guest speakers:

  • Lin Guoliang, Deputy Director, Advocacy, Digitalisation & Transformation, Singapore Business Federation
  • Eileen Tan, SGTech Singapore Enterprise Chapter Exco and Executive Director, Stone Forest
  • Keng Low, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Finantier

SBF and SGTech play important roles as multipliers and conduits to help companies, especially SMEs, in their transformation and growth. As Singapore adapts to live with COVID-19, trade associations and chambers will play an even more crucial role in strengthening the business ecosystem.

In the webinar, we’ll explore how digital transformation plays a central role in driving growth, increasing productivity, and lowering operating costs. Eileen will also share insights from the tech industry, including the move to the cloud.

The speakers will also discuss how an approach focusing on workforce, technology, and business support is vital to success.

Lastly, we’ll talk about how government grant support can help you reach your goals for business growth.

Join us on 20 April 2022, at 10 a.m. SGT.

Want to become a digitally resilient business? Register for the free webinar: SME Digitalisation Roadmap: Tips To Fueling Growth and Customer Retention in 2022.

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