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Businesses in Singapore are fairly confident about their ability to survive the next global disruption, as they have adapted to the COVID-19 situation with their digital transformation (DX) initiatives largely on track. Amidst government efforts to support and strengthen Singapore’s economy and boost digital transformation efforts, a survey commissioned by Fujitsu Asia shed light on the challenges, learnings, and upcoming priorities among over 100 business leaders in Singapore across various sectors.

Despite ongoing economic pressures, only 22 percent of respondents planned to reduce their DX budgets. Security across all aspects of DX initiatives proved to be one of the biggest challenges faced, as 70 percent of respondents cited data security as their top IT priority. As companies reshuffle their priorities ahead to include remote working and collaboration needs, the importance of fostering a data-driven or innovation culture however ranked near the bottom of the list.

Mr Motohiko Uno, President, Fujitsu Asia said: “The Government’s Smart Nation drive over the years has injected confidence among businesses to remain relatively unruffled in the face of one of the world’s biggest crises. The pandemic spotlighted DX’s role as a necessity to help organisations stay resilient in the face of major disruptions, and the importance of safe-guarding the security aspect of data, network and cloud platforms. Yet the future-proofing of businesses goes far beyond protocols and technology – organisations need to transform in ways that ensure that both employees and customers trust the outcome, a key pillar in successful DX strategies.”

 

Confident of the future, DX budgets stay on track

Respondents were optimistic of the post-COVID era, with 84 percent rating their preparedness level at 6 and above (out of 10), and close to half (47 percent) rated it between 8 and 10.

Digital transformation initiatives remain on track. When COVID-19 impacted their operations, 22 percent saw a reduction in their IT/DX budgets, and one in three kept their budgets unchanged. To support their DX operations, one quarter increased their in-house initiatives, while 13 percent tapped more often on the expertise of third-party vendors.

 

Security Across all Aspects are Paramount

Respondents (70 percent) cited data security as their top priority, followed by network security (48 percent) and cloud security (44 percent).

Businesses were already investing in cloud capabilities even before the disruption brought about by COVID-19. Zooming in on cloud strategies, an essential part of DX initiatives, respondents shared that their top cloud investment focus priority is “just getting on the cloud” (29 percent), The survey also found that 22 percent of businesses are allocating resources and budget to cloud security.

 

Pain Points: Remote working and Collaboration

During the onset of the pandemic, collaboration (26 percent) and security (23 percent) were the two most-cited challenges. The education sector’s main pain point proved to be collaboration (42 percent). One in two respondents in the healthcare sector cited collaboration as their biggest IT challenge, as they coped with the workload at the frontlines. For the transportation sector, its primary IT challenge was external communication (33 percent).

 

A Disruption-ready Future: Keeping Sight of Trust and Human-centric Transformation

Since the start of the pandemic, businesses placed high priority on two key areas in terms of resiliency – minimising downtime to maintain maximum customer availability, and adapting their business model to the reality of the circuit-breaker measures. Respondents also placed a higher priority on maintaining or increasing productivity among staff, compared to promoting optimism or maintaining headcount stability.

While successful DX initiatives are often a result of combining technological, structural and cultural transformation, respondents however ranked the need to foster a data-driven or innovation culture on a low priority.

 

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