Singapore's SMEs are doing well in adopting technology. Source: Shutterstock.

Singapore’s SMEs are doing well in adopting technology. Source: Shutterstock.

UOB reports that Singapore’s SMEs ready to go digital in 2020

IN THE APEC zone, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the engines of growth and innovation.

In September 2019, they accounted for about 97 percent of all businesses and employed over half of the workforce across APEC economies.

Their worth is further solidified by their share of GDP, which ranges from 20 to 50 percent in most APEC economies.

In this region, Singapore is widely regarded as an SME paradise. The country’s innovative policies, significant government subsidies, and geographical location makes it a fertile ground for the healthy growth of SMEs.

To date, the SME landscape in Singapore is vibrant and lively.

However, according to a survey published by United Overseas Bank (UOB), 2020 is bringing a mixed business outlook. Out of the 615 SMEs that were surveyed, 46 percent held a positive outlook, 31 percent weren’t as optimistic, with the remainder of SMEs being neutral.

To ensure profitability, SMEs in Singapore are now shifting their focus on productivity improvements for better performance in such uncertain macro environments.

According to UOB MD and Country Head of Business Banking, Singapore Mervyn Koh, “One of the ways SMEs are planning to achieve their productivity goals is by increasing their investments in technology, which not only helps increase efficiency but also enhances their competitiveness in the long term.”

Technology and digitization are not new to Singapore SMEs – they are already strong in their digitization game.

65 percent have already digitized at least one area of their business, with the most common one being accounting (46 percent), payroll (45 percent), and marketing (38 percent).

SMEs are also looking into implement digital solutions in expense management, customer relationship management, and sales.

Koh commended the forward-thinking abilities of these SMEs and suggested that they consider increasing the use of electronic payments.

“By doing so, businesses will not only become more efficient but also benefit from the ability to invoice their customers more quickly for better cash flow.”

Eighty-eight percent of SMEs already have plans to increase e-payments this year. This is a wise move that will be equally as appealing to SMEs and consumers alike.

E-payments are much more flexible and cost-effective for businesses, and for consumers, they are fast, user-friendly and reliable. The report also noted that SMEs that were reluctant to adopt e-payments had three main concerns.

These were concerns over customer and supplier acceptance (33 percent), the security of services (33 percent), and the need to provide employee access (31 percent).

Singaporean SMEs possess the right mindset that can help them stay competitive, and propel them forward in this age of constant disruption.

Technology should not be feared. It must be embraced. It is thus wise for businesses, SMEs and non-SMEs alike, to model Singapore’s model and leverage technology to improve outcomes.