50 Per Cent of SMB Owners in Asia-Pacific Region Don’t Expect to Survive

Some 60 percent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes
  • BY Jaspreet Kaur

    Feature Writer, BusinessEx

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  • Jul 23,2020
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  • 239 Mins Read

HP Inc. conducted the latest study on SMBs in Asia-Pacific region. The study named "Survival to Revival" surveyed 1,600 SMBs throughout eight nations in Asia. It unveiled that more than 50 per cent of small-medium business owners expect not just to survive but thrive following the pandemic and feel that digital transformation will be a key part of this revival. 

The study shows that 60 per cent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes, flexible work options and customized products and services identified as future strategies. However, cost effective solutions are required given cash flow remains top of mind and SMBs are unclear where to look or what such solutions are available. This is especially key where only 4 in 10 SMBs have a department or person responsible for innovation.

"SMBs are the lifeblood of every economy in Asia but the pandemic has hit SMBs hard. As the engines of growth for Asia economies, it is critical for them to move past survival to revive their businesses," said Ng Tian Chong, Managing Director, Greater Asia at HP. 

"This study provides us with the insights to provide practical help for SMBs so that they have access to an ecosystem of devices, tools and technology. With these resources, we want to help SMBs unlock innovation for customer and employee-centric experiences, as well as broadly upskill talent to rebound from the pandemic and prepare for the future," Chong added. 

The eight countries that were surveyed in the study were Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam found:

  • Companies most confident of bouncing back place high importance on digital adoption. Across the region, nearly 60 per cent view digital adoption as very important or essential. Indonesian SMBs are particularly sensitive to this need, with a full 74 per cent believing it is essential or very important, as is Thailand, also at 65 per cent.
  • Growth projections are significantly adjusted post pandemic. Across the region, 46 per cent of SMBs expecting growth prior to the pandemic but that figure has dropped dramatically to just 16 per cent. India and Vietnam are the most confident about post pandemic growth and Singapore, Japan and South Korea are least positive.
  • Disruption to productivity is a common experience during COVID. Only 6 per cent of SMBs recorded higher levels of workplace productivity compared to pre-COVID period while 43 per cent recorded lower productivity.
  • Skills was identified as an issue: The pandemic amplified the lack of digital-first mindsets and skills within existing SMBs that hamper growth, affecting nearly half (44 per cent) of respondents.
  • SMBs are unclear on where to look for assistance: Financial institutions rank high (31 per cent); 60 per cent of SMBs consider government support to be insufficient and/or are unclear on what support is available; only 19 per cent of respondents turn to IT companies for help.

The study informs that there is a need to ascertain digital talents which can help SMBs transform their business. Mostly, SMBs do not allocate resources and invest in the innovation  

Only one in five SMBs have customized offerings, looked for new sales & supply-chain channels or introduced new lines of business. In the Asia-pacific region, Indonesia and Thailand have the highest percentage of SMBs dedicating resources to innovation. These countries are also considered to be the most confident about the business landscape after Coronavirus.

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