Many Singaporean firms fail to adapt amid COVID-19

Back-end HR systems are being neglected in company-wide digital transformation plans

Many Singaporean firms fail to adapt amid COVID-19

Half of Singapore-based companies have accelerated their digital transformation plans due to the COVID-19 crisis. However, more than one in three (38%) have slowed down their efforts.

Additionally, the transformation of back-end HR and admin systems were considered of lowest priority as organisations reviewed business continuity plans.

Most organisations have showcased an inability to adapt during the pandemic. This is due to a lack of ‘digital agility’, found a new study.

READ MORE: HR struggling to be digital-ready

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of companies have struggled to make changes to their financial plans for the year, with 63% unable to realign their organisational structures.

In terms of people and processes, over half (56%) of leaders have been unable to track their peoples skillsets to form special task forces.

Two in five (44%) were not able to manage new approval and business processes, according to the study by Workday and IDC.

All leaders surveyed see digital transformation as a priority, with 94% using digital technologies to execute their business continuity plans.

For the next 12 to 18 months, organisations are prioritising digital transformation plans for these areas:

  • Front-end systems for customer touchpoint (56%)
  • Front-end revenue generating systems (54%)
  • Back-end finance systems (50%)

While these focus areas are relatively evenly spread, two areas are being de-prioritised: back-end HR systems (39%) and back-end admin systems (27%).

READ MORE: HR lacks critical leadership support to transform

Lack of digital skills
Leaders believe another reason for the failure to adapt amidst the pandemic is a shortage of digital skills among employees.

Over half (54%) of Singaporean organisations lack an enterprise-wide culture of agility. Just over half (52%) of leaders said that less than half of their people are equipped with digital skills and capabilities.

A staggering 17% said that they have almost no employees with digital experience or skills.

This may be due to a prevailing mindset within organisations of not viewing talent as a source of competitive advantage and therefore not investing in finding and nurturing it.

Most (81%) leaders do not see talent as an important strategic asset and lack the proper tools and processes to manage it.

This mindset also has a spill-over effect for organisationsemployee experiences. Only 37% considered the employee experience as an essential consideration in their decision-making.

READ MORE: Employees are willing to do this to avoid unemployment

Recent events have brought into focus the importance for businesses to be digitally agile,” said Rob Wells, president at Workday Asia.

“Without the right technological backbone, organisations can no longer move quickly to adapt to rapid change.

“Most companies this year have had to make significant changes to their financial and human resourcing plans, at quick notice, and our research shows offline processes have hampered this.”

Daniel-Zoe Jimenez, associate vice president & head digital transformation, Future Enterprise & SMB at IDC Asia/Pacific chimed in that the crisis has shown that digital transformation is “no longer an option” but a “matter of survival”.

“This crisis has not only brought about new challenges, but it has also intensified existing inefficiencies, making more evident the need for organisations to focus on becoming agile and adaptable,” said Jimenez.

“Those organisations that see the crisis as an opportunity to transform and accelerate the digitalisation of their businesses will emerge stronger and more relevant in the next normal.”

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