Although small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Singapore do realise the need to venture deeper into digital adoption, 57 per cent of them feel that the government’s financial support could ease the adoption due to the high barrier caused by the high investment costs, as felt by 41 per cent of them.
Lack of funds and financing have been cited by 39 per cent of SMBs as the main barrier to digital adoption, whereas some 41 per cent highlighted steep investment costs as another barrier.
Based on the QBE Insurance’s annual survey of Singapore SMBs, 57 per cent of SMBs deemed that financial support by the government is crucial to allowing them to surmount the barriers to digital adoption. The QBE Insurance’s annual survey polled 400 respondents in the country in December last year.
The fifth year of the survey highlighted a 4 per cent year-on-year increase in SMBs that were interested to expand their footprint to outside of Singapore, whereas 22 per cent of SMBs do intend to globalise. Some of the popular countries of interest include Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Through Budget 2020, the government is committed to offer more assistance to SMBs in 2020 via the Enterprise Grow Package (EGP). The EGP seeks to assist these companies to enter new markets, identify business needs, as well as adopt pre-approved digital technologies.
One initiative under the EGP is the GoBusiness platform, whose function is to serves as a single touchpoint for firms to conduct digital transaction with the government. According to the QBE survey, only 3 per cent of SMBs took advantage of these initiatives in 2019, despite 71 per cent of them knowing of the availability of such support schemes.
In addition, among the SMBs, 34 per cent are wary about system breaches such as unauthorised access to computers or systems, with only 17 per cent of these SMBs possessing insurance coverage to protect themselves. The QBE survey only showed that 37 per cent of SMBs were worried about data loss, but only 19 per cent of them had insurance coverage against online theft of sensitive data. As for fraudulent payments and online customer fraud, 18 per cent of SMBs had insurance protection, while 16 per cent had insurance protection against infringement of intellectual property rights.
“SMBs are the key driving force for Singapore’s economy. It is, therefore, critical for them to understand the importance of digitalising and scaling up to become more competitive in the marketplace. Assistance provided by the government, especially more so in the recent Budget announcement, should provide SMBs with the resources to establish proper contingency plans…This helps to ensure their overall long-term growth is both sustainable and safe,” remarked Ronak Shah, the CEO of QBE Insurance Singapore.
Furthermore, climate change impacts have also been found by QBE survey to be the most relevant environmental and social issues affecting business for 20 per cent of SMBs.
The QBE survey has also found employee well-being and safety to be a strong and relevant concern for 53 per cent of the SMBs. Also, the need for diversity and inclusion as well as labour conditions are the most relevant environmental and social issues to business for 27 per cent and 37 per cent of SMBs respectively.