Digital Transformation In Singapore: All You Need To Know
Digital transformation in Singapore is a growing movement that has become especially important during the COVID period, and increasingly backed by government support and funding.
But what is digital transformation?
Why should Singapore businesses care, and how can you transform your business digitally?
This will be a long read, so we’ve broken it down into the main ideas that you can quickly navigate to:
- What is digital transformation?
- Why does digital transformation matter?
- Why is digital transformation in Singapore so important?
- Are there government grants for digital transformation?
- 4 different areas a business can transform digitally
- What are some examples of digital transformation?
- How to undergo digital transformation
- Overcoming challenges of digital transformation
- How Can Web Imp help?
What is digital transformation?
Wikipedia defines digital transformation as “the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society”. However, this definition is too broad.
Stripped bare, digital transformation refers to the process of making use of available digital technologies to modify existing business processes, cultures, and customer experiences (or create new ones).
In other words, digital transformation is the adoption of ‘digital’ in
- the mindset and vision of leadership
- the internal organisation – people and processes
- customer relations and customer experiences
Digital transformation differs from company to company — what one company is after might not fit the needs of another.
Why does digital transformation matter?
What are the benefits of digital transformation?
1. Increased profits
In a recent Gartner survey, 56% of CEOs said that digital improvements have already led to increases in profits.
In another study of companies that undergo digital transformation, the SAP Center for Business Insights and Oxford Economics reported:
- 80% of organizations that have completed digital transformation report increased profits.
- 85% say they have increased their market share.
- On average, leaders expect 23% higher revenue growth than competitors.
2. Increased efficiency
One of the main benefits of digital transformation is the streamlining of business operations and processes. This leads to increased efficiency is many aspects of business.
3. Competitive advantage
Digital transformation can help your business maintain a lead over competitors and stand out amongst the rest with unique offerings. You can reach wider markets, and even launch new business models.
4. Business Continuity Planning
What the global pandemic in 2020 taught us is that businesses that adapted digitally were better prepared for sudden changes in business operations.
When lockdowns were imposed, some business owners turned to digital transformation to enjoy the benefits of modern business practices without having to be present physically.
Digital transformation can help your business continue functioning during unforeseen circumstances.
Why is digital transformation in Singapore so important now?
Why do Singapore businesses need digital transformation, especially in 2020 and onwards?
Combat rising labour costs
With labour costs rising, businesses need to find ways to increase the productivity and efficiency of employees to increase the value and production of manpower.
Remain competitive in the regional market.
As the economies and workforce in our neighbouring countries mature, local businesses need to make sure they stay one step ahead of the curve.
The Singapore government is advocating digital
Businesses that adopted digitalization early managed to stay afloat during the local COVID-19 lockdown, giving them an edge over SMEs still running on traditional business processes.
Global technological advancement is not going to stop.
No one can stop digital advancement. If Singapore businesses don’t adapt, they can easily lag behind the rest of the world.
Are there government grants for Digital Transformation?
Yes! There are many.
The Singapore government has been very supportive of Singaporean businesses’ efforts to digitalize. Millions are being poured into funding.
One such programme is the SMEs Go Digital initiative.
The SMEs Go Digital programme aims to help SMEs use digital technologies and build stronger digital capabilities to seize growth opportunities in the digital economy. Building on the foundation of Enhanced iSPRINT, SMEs Go Digital has a more structured and inclusive approach towards the adoption of digital technologies by SMEs.
Another such programme is the SkillsFuture Funding Support for Employers. Eligible companies can receive up to 90% subsidy on training fees and absentee payroll while attending courses. Approved Training Providers like Equinet Academy offer digital marketing courses that are approved for these subsidies.
It can be overwhelming when you look at the grant portal and see the huge options of grants available.
Take a step back and first identify the areas in your own business that can digitalize first.
4 different areas a business can transform digitally
Singapore business owners can leverage digital transformation to improve four main areas of their businesses.
1. Customer Relationship:
Boost customer relations with digital technology, helping hone and redefining (if necessary) the path to purchase, all while streamlining and simplifying the customers’ buying experience to demonstrate appropriate emphasis and care.
2. Unique experiences and value propositions:
Invest in the right digital technologies in order to develop a competitive advantage. The broader business strategy for this area is underscored by the creation of a unique experience and value proposition that will resonate with customers.
3. Data driven business decisions:
Using digital technology can help collect previously unknowable types of data or put collated data into perspective. This allows businesses to focus more on real data and less on assumptions, which allows for practical and real-time data-driven decision making.
4. Empowering employees:
Digital transformations enable innovation. This way, organisations can improve with the times, allowing them to update their processes and cultures.
What are some examples of digital transformation?
The simple act of moving from paper records to Excel spreadsheets can be considered a simple form of digital transformation. Here are some other examples of digital transformation:
1) Turning an offline seminar show into an online virtual exhibition to widen the audience reach during a pandemic lockdown. Read case study.
2) Replacing physical Network Attached Servers with a cloud storage solution to reduce IT maintenance costs significantly. Read case study.
3) Using cloud document management systems and a smart workspace to enable 100% employee transition into remote working. Read case study.
4) Building a highly customized, cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning software that fits a specific company workflow. Replacing Excel spreadsheets and enabling team collaboration to boost organisational efficiency. Read case study.
How to undergo digital transformation
This is a complicated, multi step process. We can break it down into simple concepts to help you get started with digital transformation for your business.
Step 1: Identify the areas of inefficiency and weaknesses of your business
This is the first step into get started with digital transformation.
When business owners embark on their digital transformation journey, it begins with knowing the weaknesses of the existing business process. What are the inefficiencies in the way the company is run?
Are there bottlenecks in workflows, and are there better ways of connecting with customers?
Step 2: Define and establish new business process
Depending on the scope of digital transformation, this step could mean overhauling entire operations or taking it step by step, department by department.
Companies have to decide where to make changes to existing systems, processes, and tools used.
For smaller transformations, companies can decide internally on the best tools to use, or best changes to make.
For larger changes, it is recommended that companies hire strategists or researchers to analyse the market conditions as well as internal company data to find out which processes can be improved upon and which can be left alone.
Step 3: Identify what tools the company needs.
It helps to have an idea of what software or hardware a company needs in order to improve upon current offerings.
The company won’t actually need all the latest innovations and technology to improve its functions. That is why identifying what sort of digital transformation tool is needed is so important.
Usually, the choice of technology depends on which processes require optimisation or improvement. Technology is not what improves the process — the idea behind the technology is what drives the transformation. Technology is just an enabler.
A good business owner is focused on finding the right technology that can help enable these changes and can be easily implemented (and perhaps modified) to fit business objectives.
Step 4: Determine KPIs and set goals
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are helpful metrics that show if an aspect of digital transformation has come in helpful or not, and whether or not it is a viable long-term implementation.
Here are 14 KPIs that you can consider tracking to gauge the success of digital transformation.
Set goals for employees, departments, or the company as a whole, based on these KPIs.
By setting achievable goals or targets to hit, along with reasonable timelines, business owners will be able to tell what’s working and what isn’t. Giving the digital transformation time to work is key as well — 6 months or 1 year tends to be enough to tell if something is going well or not.
Step 5: Careful rollout of new technologies, workflows, and processes.
It can be jarring for a company to suddenly switch to new methods of operations overnight. You need to consider people of different experience with technologies.
- Start with low risk projects or selected subset of customers
- Start with small teams, or selected departments
- Build on habits and processes, continually reviewing and getting feedback
Step 6: Evaluating the digital transformation
Evaluations not only help make clear which processes need a boost and which are obsolete.
Additionally, changes to company culture might also be necessary for a successful digital transformation. Doing away with traditional management hierarchy can benefit the company and allow newer, fresher voices to be heard.
Digital transformation is a challenging but rewarding process, one that requires constant refining and redefining.
Overcoming challenges with digital transformation
Let’s not pretend digital transformation is easy. Here are the main difficulties companies will face, and how to overcome them.
Getting employees digitally ready
Hiring the right people and making sure existing employees are trained for using new digital tools can be challenging. (using Tiktok and doing online shopping doesn’t mean a person a ready for digital transformation)
Have patience in identifying who needs more help in the transition, and set aside time for training.
Security and Compliance
Going digital can open gaps in cyber security. Getting the advice of security consultants when implementing wide ranging digital solutions can help you understand risks.
New ways of engaging with customers and collecting data may cause compliance issues i.e. privacy concerns. In Singapore, there is the PDPA, and Make sure your company understands these rules when implementing data collection (and appoints a data protection officer).
It can be very expensive in terms of tools and training to get everyone in the company up to speed. Take it one step at a time, and rely on grants to help offset some of the costs.
Traditional culture and mindset
Not everyone is open to change. (Have you ever tried asking sales to do data entry for sales leads into a CRM software?) Leaders should take charge and lead by example. Cultivate a growth mindset in the organisation.
How can Web Imp help with your business’ Digital transformation?
Does digital transformation still sound too difficult? Not sure where your business should start transforming digitally?
Digital transformation process enables your company to do things better, faster, and cheaper than your competitors, giving you a competitive edge.
- We can help you open new global markets and generate online revenue with website design and e-commerce development.
- We can enable new ways for your business to connect with customers via mobile app development.
- We can make your company workflow and processes more efficient by building custom web apps and software.
- We can help your company move files online and enable team collaboration on the cloud with Dropbox Business.
Talk to our friendly digital strategists to get started.