SAP SE announced the findings of its new study of enterprises in Southeast Asia, uncovering the state of businesses and their strategic priorities, as well as challenges and opportunities for post-pandemic growth.
The regional study Digital, resilient, and experience-driven: How enterprises in Southeast Asia can prepare for the new economy reveals that enterprises in Southeast Asia are gaining steady momentum prioritising growth and customer experiences. However, they face significant challenges in the areas of talent attraction and retention, cloud adoption, and gaining insights from data.
Conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, the study surveyed 600 senior executives—including 400 from SMEs with less than $500 million in revenue—across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Forging A New Experience-led Growth Path
As economies begin to identify emerging pockets of growth, enterprises have also continued to adapt with resilience, transforming their operations to meet evolving consumer expectations in a new digital economy.
Enterprises in the region identify customer experience as a strategic imperative for survival and growth, with more than a third (35%) saying service excellence is now their primary source of value and differentiation. Positive customer experiences have also become the foremost strategic consideration for businesses in the region, with key factors being personalisation for the customer (59%), providing high-quality products and/or services (55%), ensuring data protection and privacy (53%) and offering competitive pricing (51%).
“Having gotten a foothold on the pandemic’s disruption, businesses across Southeast Asia are at a crucial transformative point to achieve long-term competitive growth,” said Verena Siow, President and Managing Director, SAP South East Asia. “Regardless of industry, businesses must embrace true business transformation into intelligent enterprises while keeping in mind that customers are the lifeline to survival and sustainable growth,” Siow added.
Set against their larger counterparts, SMEs in the region find it increasingly challenging to keep pace with uncertainties and external challenges in the current business environment. SMEs surveyed cite difficulty adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace (40%, vs. 29% of larger enterprises), keeping up with changing customer wants and needs (38% vs. 43%), and difficulty retaining customers or driving repeat business (34% vs 30%) as top challenges to meeting their strategic priorities.
In the Philippines, large enterprises and SMEs have also taken steps to improve experience management in their operations. The study showed that companies’ top three primary strategic priorities over the next three years is improving customer experience (53%), improving employee experience (42%), and attracting new customers (36%).
SMEs and large enterprises in the country believe that customer experience can help them stand out from the rest of the pack. They seek to improve the experience of their customers, with two-thirds (42%) of enterprises see service excellence, along with product excellence (18%) and Innovation (9%) as their organization’s three primary sources of value and differentiation.
To achieve the growth of Philippine enterprises that they seek in their organization, they started taking steps through digitalization and improve customer experience. The study showed that they started soliciting and acting on the customer feedback (94%) and started improving customer data analytics (85%). They also started investing in user-friendly digital experiences (75%).
Becoming Best Run: Hurdles to Overcome
As enterprises adapt their operations to overcome both internal and external challenges, many of them recognise technology as an enabler to help drive greater business outcomes.
Automation and digital technologies are most believed to support business goals by increasing process efficiency and reducing error, risk, and cost (56%). This is followed by reducing overhead costs (45%), allowing employees to focus on higher-level business tasks (39%), and increasing productivity through transformation and intelligent process automation (37%).