Enterprises are attracting tech talent from across the region. Source: Shutterstock

Enterprises are attracting tech talent from across the region. Source: Shutterstock

Who is winning the battle for tech talent in Southeast Asia?

TALENT, or the lack of it, is something that business leaders talk about all the time — more so in the technology space than anything else.

According to the SMB Digital Maturity Index 2019, the lack of digital skills and talent in an organization was the biggest of the top five challenges small and mid-sized businesses faced on their journey to digital.

An interesting thing to note is that the SMEs are losing the most when it comes to finding talent to fuel their digital projects as compared to large enterprises.

SMEs in the region are being impacted by this, the study found. The challenge is particularly daunting for such companies because not only are they unable to find local talent to fill tech roles, but they’re also unable to meet capital requirements set by regulators to hire from abroad and provide the necessary visas.

Respondents to the survey revealed that China was the most affected by this — with 24 percent of small and mid-sized organizations in the country rating it as the biggest hurdle to their digital transformation.

In comparison, 19 percent of SMEs in Hong Kong, 17 percent of those in Australia, and 12 percent of those in Indonesia felt this way about talent — although it still ranked as the top challenge for them on their digital maturity journey.

From the findings, it seems as though talent is quite a significant roadblock when it comes to going digital.

Train or buy to beat the talent crunch

Companies understand that failure to deliver on the digital demands of customers means a drop in revenues in the near future.

It’s why they’re so concerned about driving their digital agenda as efficiently as possible, and hope to accelerate it as quickly as they can.

True, SMEs lack the talent they need to build their own systems when it comes to digital, but that doesn’t mean they can’t buy what they need.

If SMEs want to ensure they’re up to speed and are keeping up with competitors, they must find a way to invest in solutions that are provided by technology vendors who offer implementation support.

Through vendors, SMEs can still realize their digital transformation goals quickly even without the right talent at their disposal — but they must do their homework beforehand and ask the right questions about implementation support and future maintenance.

A recent forecast by IDC said that businesses will spend nearly US$1.2 trillion on digital transformation this year as they seek an edge in the digital economy.

This is almost an 18 percent increase over the 2018 figures released by the company’s analysts.

“Digital transformation is quickly becoming the largest driver of new technology investments and projects among businesses, ” said IDC Customer Insights & Analysis Group Research Manager Craig Simpson.

While IDC’s forecast only talks about the kinds of spending and use cases, there’s no doubt that SMEs will make up a proportional chunk of investments in new technologies, both, in the hardware and the software space.