Business leaders in Singapore are becoming aware of the power of digital transformation, and taking action to realise its huge potential. Workstyle transformation and operations are equally the top functional areas for digital transformation in Singaporean organizations, with 45.6% of organizations reporting projects in those areas.

Having new technology alone was not sufficient to ensure success however — as 25.6% of respondents cited streamlined organizations and processes as key factors to delivering digital transformation. This was followed by strong leadership (20.9%) and having talented staff with the right skills (14.0%). 47.8% of respondents saw strengthened relationships with customers as the most positive outcome of digital transformation, while improved efficiency and reduced cost (42.0%) and strengthened competitiveness of products (40.6%) were among the top outcomes cited.

The findings were part of the 2017 Fujitsu Global Digital Transformation Survey, which received 1,614 responses from business leaders across 15 countries, including 103 from Singapore. The research aimed to find out how business leaders were responding to digital transformation challenges, and identify the initiatives they were undertaking.

Key findings in Singapore:

Focus on Workstyle Transformation and Operations
Digital transformation was found to be equally likely to take place in workstyle transformation and operations and maintenance — with projects underway or implemented in 45.6% of organizations in Singapore. Marketing (33.0%) and call centers (27.2)% were also areas in which a significant amount of digital transformation was taking place. The survey also asked about the status of digital transformation in a range of specific functional areas: logistics, finance, manufacturing. 28.2% of respondents had implemented or were implementing digital transformation process in manufacturing, followed by logistics (18.4%) and finance (16.5%). Over a third (37.9%) implemented other digital transformation projects in a range of specific functional areas.

Organisations in Singapore are Advanced in Digital Transformation
The highest level of delivered digital transformation outcomes in Singapore was marketing (44.1%), followed by operations and maintenance (29.8%), workstyle (25.5%) and specific functions (22.4%). The majority of these projects were in the process of being implemented or have delivered on their outcomes with relatively few in the testing and planning phase.

Stronger Customer Relationships Though Digital Transformation
The benefits of digital transformation were felt across the organisations, according to the respondents. Almost half (47.8%) said that the greatest benefit of digital transformation has been a strengthened relationship with customers. 42.0% of business leaders saw increased revenue and improved efficiency and reduced cost.  This was followed by strengthened competitiveness of products (40.6%), increased revenue (37.7%), the transformation of business models or processes (37.7%) and improved employee satisfaction (27.5%).

Going Beyond Introducing New Technologies
In order to deliver successful outcomes, respondents saw streamlined organizations and processes (25.6%) and strong leadership (20.9%) as key factors. This was followed by having talented staff with the right skills (14.0%), a culture of transformation (11.6%) and aligning digital initiatives with existing IT (9.3%). On the other hand, a lack of talented staff with the right skills (20.8%) was cited as the most often mentioned factor which hindered digital transformation. Other inhibitors were fear of change or internal resistance (13.9%), lack of budget (10.9%), no technology partners (10.9%) and a lack of leadership (9.9%).

More than 1 in 3 business leaders in Singapore rated technology partners as the most important type of partner for digital success, followed by suppliers (9.7%), sales partners (9.7%), and consulting firms (9.7%). Respondents valued technology partners who are aligned with the organization’s vision and strategy (22.3%), followed strong technological capability (17.5%) and trust for collaboration (16.5%) as important attributes.

Enthusiasm over AI
The majority of respondents (81.6%) saw AI as an opportunity, with just 8.7% seeing it as a threat. Most survey respondents strongly agree (22.3%) or agree (61.2%) that AI will enhance people’s capabilities in future, but they also believe that AI will be used for work currently performed by people (14.6% strongly agree, 56.3% agree).

A Balance of Skills Required to Drive Digital Transformation
Business leaders in Singapore cited a range of capabilities that they believe are important in the digital era. They include: Professional knowledge of digital technologies (19.4%), creativity and imagination (15.5%), professional knowledge of specific business function (14.6%) and logical and analytical capability (14.6%). Craig Baty, VP Global Strategy & Digital Services, Fujitsu Limited, comments: “Digital technologies are moving into the heart of everything we do, changing the way businesses and people work, live and innovate. Even as digital transformation becomes a business norm, acquiring new technology alone is no longer sufficient to drive results. New talents, and people who have different skills and innovative ways of doing things, are required. Leadership, agility and co-creation with partners are very important elements as well.”