SAP today announced the results of its poll of 4,500 Southeast Asian business leaders, revealing the extent of COVID-19’s impact on businesses across the region, and concerns about long-term prospects.
Unveiled at the inaugural SAP Forward Together virtual event on the new reality of businesses, the survey revealed that 40% of the businesses polled are still adopting a “wait and see” approach in response to the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the world economy going through a period of ‘reset’ for the ‘rebound’. The race for competitiveness has already started again, and countries that sprint forward now will leave others trailing behind,” said Rachel Barger, President & Managing Director, SAP South East Asia (pic).
“For countries and companies that are complacent with a ‘wait and see’ attitude, they would be left behind – and may even become ‘irrelevant’.
“As businesses recalibrate their strategies for the long-term, it is crucial to shift away from an expectation to revert to normalcy as before. In a new reality, intelligent enterprises can ‘do more with less’, deliver best-in-class customer experience, build resilient supply chains, while inventing new business models and revenue streams,” she said.
Implications of COVID-19 on SEA businesses
The majority of regional business leaders surveyed have already seen changes in customers’ purchasing behaviour and motivations since the start of 2020, although 21% of businesses are unsure or lack insight on changes in their customer’s needs. Amidst this shift, organisations are still moving conservatively with their digital transformation efforts, with many adopting a protective stance with the mindset that disruption from COVID-19 will pass in due course.
Although businesses have pivoted their operations towards e-commerce and online selling, smaller businesses still worry over the implementation costs of digital platforms and juggling operations to meet the sudden influx of demand. Around 20% of businesses foresee a need to adapt their customer experience strategies to meet evolving expectations and needs of customers across platforms.
Supply chain and operations are also other aspects that businesses are keeping a close watch on, with 22% of businesses expecting a significant change in the future. Alongside changing customer consumption patterns, supply chains have shifted in the wake of safe-distancing measures of lockdowns, leading to a stop-go pattern in business-to-business operations.
Over 80% of regional business leaders surveyed expect massive impact to change their business model or operations, with just 1% expecting “business-as-usual” in the long run.
With business-as-usual no longer an option, regional business leaders are adjusting organizational priorities with a focus on business transformation, enhancing customer engagement, making business processes more efficient, ensuring business continuity, and supply chain resilience and redefinition.
According to the Boston Consulting Group, high-performing companies who successfully tackled crises and major economic downturns demonstrate a similar pattern, that has allowed them to emerge as winners during and after past recessions. High-performing companies who managed to improve their top-line and bottom-line positions adopt a proactive approach, using the downturn as an opportunity to drive large-scale transformation like digitalization.
Accelerating business transformation in a post-COVID-19 world
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the drivers of technology were focused on cost reduction and productivity, said SAP in a statement, adding that due to ‘new realities’ caused by COVID-19, technology’s role has evolved to achieve resiliency, deliver profitability and act sustainably.
The statement adds that companies can also build their ‘intelligent enterprise’ journeys to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 disruption and transform them into winning companies.
It cites intelligent technologies that can be used to provide real-time visibility into the availability of raw materials, people, and assets, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning to constantly reassess and re-plan activities. In addition, robotic process automation could be employed to automate labor intensive activities and focus our workers on more value-added and efficacy-driving activities.
To support business continuity through these challenging times, SAP has opened up access to selected technology solutions.
SAP is providing free access to SAP Ariba Discovery, the world’s largest business network until December 31, 2020, so any buyer can post their immediate sourcing needs and any supplier can respond to show they can deliver. Free access to Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse is also available to help organisations understand how their employees are doing and what support they need as they adapt to new work environments.
Additionally, businesses can also access the SAP Value Lifecycle Manager, an industry benchmark tool that supports businesses to measure, monitor, and optimise value across the enterprise.