The COVID-19 pandemic still has the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia firmly in its grip. But even then, enterprises in the region have begun preparing themselves for postcrisis growth.
According to SAP’s regional study “Digital, resilient, and experience-driven: How enterprises in Southeast Asia can prepare for the new economy”, Southeast Asian firms are gaining steady momentum, prioritizing 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 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with less than $500 million in revenue—across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
New 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.
The SAP study said the region’s enterprises considered customer experience as a strategic imperative for survival and growth, with more than a third (35 percent) 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 personalization for the customer (59 percent), providing high-quality products and/or services (55 percent), ensuring data protection and privacy (53 percent) and offering competitive pricing (51 percent).
“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 of 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.”
Perhaps due to their size and capital constraints, SMEs are finding it more challenging to keep pace with the rapidly evolving business environment compared to the larger companies.
SMEs surveyed cite difficulty adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace (40 percent, vs 29 percent of larger enterprises), keeping up with changing customer wants and needs (38 percent vs 43 percent), and difficulty retaining customers or driving repeat business (34 percent vs 30 percent) as top challenges to meeting their strategic priorities.
In the Philippines, large enterprises and SMEs have taken steps to improve experience management in their operations.
The study showed that local companies’ Top 3 primary strategic priorities over the next three years are improving customer experience (53 percent), improving employee experience (42 percent) and attracting new customers (36 percent).
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16 April 2021