Digitalise or die: Companies not going online risk losing out
Companies not planning to go online risk losing out to rivals
If you have yet to plan on digitalising your business, you may be behind more than half your rivals.
Earlier this week, US telecommunications and information technology solutions giant CenturyLink revealed in a study that 57 per cent of the 613 large companies surveyed in Asia-Pacific, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong and Japan, have a formal roadmap to digitalise their businesses.
The study also found that 63 per cent of these companies plan to complete their digital transformations in three to six years.
This comes as the Committee on the Future Economy recommends that digitalisation be a priority for Singapore, and the Government pushes small and medium-sized enterprises to embrace digital technologies to help transform Singapore's economy.
There is now a race to gain an edge in the digital sphere - and this applies to all firms regardless of size, said CenturyLink's regional sales director for Asia-Pacific, Mr Tan Kit Yong, who spoke to TNP about the study's findings.
"Companies are fighting to get a foothold online, which they have realised opens a platform not just to the entire country but also the international market.
"It is vital because it is more than just gaining awareness. This transforms your business and allows it to address the new revenue base (online)," he said.
The study also named the top three challenges faced by Asia-Pacific companies in their digital transformations as the potential failure to secure sensitive data (35 per cent), inflexible systems (32 per cent) and inability to migrate traditional data servers to the cloud (31 per cent).
But the biggest hurdle, particularly among traditional businesses run by the older generation, remains the culture against digitalisation, said Mr Tan.
"Everyone, especially the younger generation, cannot live without their smartphones, which is the first thing most people check in the morning.
"It is true that not all companies are on board with the digital roadmap, but that is dangerous unless you plan on retiring tomorrow," he said.
Mr Tan added that most of the perceived challenges to digitalisation can be resolved with third-party services and advancing technology.
For example, there are many companies, such as CenturyLink, that provide cloud and data hosting services that even brick-and-mortar shops can leverage on.
"In the past, it was understandable that most traditional businesses, such as retailers, were against going digital as they would need their own hardware servers, which were costly to build and maintain.
"But today, there are many cloud services out there you can utilise," he said.
Mr Arnest Ng, who co-owns local vintage toy retailer Collectors Baze, has seen it transform from an ad hoc pop-up stall into a booming online business earning about $20,000 a month.
Going digital was necessary for the company to remain relevant, he said.
"Young people now prefer to sit behind their computers and scroll for things to buy. If you do not adapt, you will lose out and fade away," he added.
"But there is so much more than just putting up a website and using social media - it is about analysing the big data about your customers.
"You learn about their spending habits, why they remain loyal - or not - and you can improve your services by so much."