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SINGAPORE: According to a study by the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) and Microsoft Singapore, only one in four SMEs in Singapore are able to successfully digitally transform their business. This is true even for the highest achieving group of SME leaders with over 20 employees, as only about half of this group experienced some levels of success with digital transformation.

Similarly, out of the 98 percent of SMEs that have participated in Microsoft’s poll, only 57 percent of SMEs polled have heard of digital transformation and only 56 percent have strategies that are aligned to digital transformation. Indicating that a significant number of SMEs lack the awareness and capacity to adopt these initiative.

Despite this, SMEs who are actively adopting digital initiatives have projected that their investments could bring in an average of 26 percent in profits and attain an average of 22 percent in cost savings. “The strong projection on bottom-line impact… revealed in the study suggests that SME leaders are optimistic about the tangible benefits of digital transformation,” said Gerald Leo, director for commercial partners and small medium enterprise group of Microsoft Singapore.

Most SME leaders have also stated that their companies already possess basic technology solutions, such as office productivity tools (86 percent) and email (81 percent) in place. Although big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) solutions have been known to have the lowest adoption rates at 9 percent and 7 percent respectively, about 20 percent of leaders have projected that their companies would adopt related solutions in the next year.

The top challenge towards the adoption of digital transformation can be attributed to perceptions that it is costly and this is followed by employee resistance as observed by ASME president Kurt Wee, who has also stated that, “this points towards the emergence of a potential workplace culture issue for larger-sized SMEs.”

1,057 business owners and key IT decision makers from across 23 industries were surveyed in May and June 2018 to produce the results of this poll.

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