Managing Director of JOS Singapore shares insights on digital transformation in Singapore

Managing Director of JOS Singapore shares insights on digital transformation in Singapore

Digital transformation is gradually changing the conventional corporate practices, and its effect can be seen by the increase in the adoption of technology to improve internal processes and customer experience.

Ever since the launch of the Smart Nation Initiative in November 2014, it’s interesting to hear what experts thinking about the progress of digital transformation in Singapore and what can be done better.

For that, we spoke with Andrew Tan, Managing Director of JOS Singapore, to share with us insights into how the businesses in Singapore are coping with digital transformation and how some struggling SMEs can keep up with the pace.

Digital transformation. What does it mean and how beneficial is it for a company to digitalise their business?

Some may think that digital transformation is about technology, while others may see it as transforming the way a business operates or utilising a new method in engaging with their customers. These are not incorrect, but when it comes to the term “digital transformation”, businesses must have the clarity to deliver value to customers.

Businesses with a good grasp of digitalisation will not only redefine the business landscape but most importantly, remain competitive and relevant. For example, through digitalising customer journeys, businesses increase the speed and agility at which they garner insights; further enhancing the customer experience.

There are also needs to be aligned between employees and leaders – the push for digital transformation must come from all levels to ensure success. With the future of workplaces looking to be heavily reliant upon digital skillsets, employees should be upskilling themselves to stay ahead of competitors. For example, close to half (46%) of CIOs in the Asia Pacific are currently investing, or have plans to invest in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to help simplify repeatable and highly structured tasks.  Business leaders need to educate their employees that embracing digital transformation does not mean that their jobs are at risk. In fact, employees can leverage digital technology to improve their output, increasing the company’s value and offerings. At JOS, we see significant opportunities in the mid-market segment and aim to widen the company’s footprint across sectors that are seeing an increased demand for technology adoption.

Beyond individual companies, the onset of digital transformation has also resulted in the creation of high-skilled jobs at a national level. As the Singapore government continues to push for digital transformation through initiatives such as the Smart Nation programmes and Infocomm Media 2025 plan, companies can leverage such platforms to innovate and successfully transform. This will enable the country to improve efficiency and remain competitive at a global level.

Do you think that businesses in Singapore are progressing well in digitalising their operations?

Singapore businesses are generally progressing well in digitalising their operations. According to a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore has ranked first in the Asian Digital Transformation Index for 3 consecutive years, and the driving force behind this achievement is our government – for leading digital disruption in Singapore and building a well-developed digital infrastructure. With our government’s clear leadership, Singapore is now known as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world. I believe the technology maturity of the people is one of the key reason which allows Singapore to readily adopt and embrace digital transformation.

Another key factor that enables businesses in Singapore to move forward with digitalisation includes government-led initiatives such as the Smart Nation programme, e-Government Action Plan and the Infocomm Media 2025 plan. These initiatives have further enabled a smooth transition from traditional methods to digitalised operations for businesses in Singapore.

As Singapore continues its push towards becoming a smart nation, small-medium enterprises seem to be slower in making changes. Why do you think so?

While Singapore ranks number 1 in the World Bank Human Capital Index, SMEs are still struggling to stay relevant and ahead of the competition curve. Only 57% of Singapore SMEs polled in the SME Digital Transformation Study said that they have heard of the term “digital transformation” according to a study led by ASME-Microsoft. In another survey by QBE insurance, even though 60% of SMEs are aware of the many initiatives by the government to help the country move forward and stay relevant in the age of digital, only 30% of respondents actually utilise these initiatives. In fact, only 3.1% of Singapore SMEs are at stage 5 of digital maturity, with 55.5% of SMEs still in the early stages.

Compared to MNCs, SMEs may not be as well-equipped to undergo a large-scale upgrade as they may not have the same corporate resources and knowledge. The cost was also cited as the main reason holding SMEs back from digitalising, according to the same survey by QBE insurance. Perhaps there needs to be a change in mindsets and culture – instead of seeing training, reskilling and upskilling as a cost, SMEs should view it as an investment. In fact, it is likely to cost less to reskill a worker than to lay off a worker and hire a new replacement.

SMEs should consider starting small in their digital transformation journey. One way could be by implementing a technological innovation on a small scale, such as a unified communication platform. Such solutions can help to manage multiple tools like phone, video conferencing, email and instant messaging, which will, in turn, simplify the communication process, boosting employees’ productivity by enabling them to work remotely.

Does digital transformation also mean job losses?

Technological change often results in fear with concerns around how automation might replace human employees. While it’s true that technology will eliminate certain jobs, at the same time, it will also create new ones. According to research by Gartner, while 1.8 million jobs will be lost by 2020, 2.3 million new ones will be created to offset the human jobs automation eliminates.

Rather than seeing digital transformation as a threat, we should learn to embrace it as technology and innovation are there to help and transform the way we work, and not replace us.  In fact, it would encourage employees to upskill and gain a new set of knowledge and capabilities required to work alongside technology like Artificial Intelligence (AI) – and this will represent a revolution, that one should not be fearful of.

What do you think the government can do more to help these enterprises?

Earlier this year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore launched the Start Digital programme, part of the SMEs Go Digital Programme to help SMEs digitalise. Under this programme, SMEs will have access to subsidised digital solutions, where SMEs who commit to a minimum period of 18 months for each digital solution will have costs waived for the first 6 months.

Despite the grants and programmes offered by the government, there are still gaps present. In a survey by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), SMEs said that the application process to apply for grants is tedious, which poses a problem for them, keeping in mind their limited manpower and resources. I believe this is an area to look into – on how we can increase access to grants while still ensuring necessary compliance to prevent unscrupulous applicants from abusing the schemes available.

What do you think the government can do more to help these enterprises?

Earlier this year, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Enterprise Singapore launched the Start Digital programme, part of the SMEs Go Digital Programme to help SMEs digitalise. Under this programme, SMEs will have access to subsidised digital solutions, where SMEs who commit to a minimum period of 18 months for each digital solution will have costs waived for the first 6 months.

Despite the grants and programmes offered by the government, there are still gaps present. In a survey by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), SMEs said that the application process to apply for grants is tedious, which poses a problem for them, keeping in mind their limited manpower and resources. I believe this is an area to look into – on how we can increase access to grants while still ensuring necessary compliance to prevent unscrupulous applicants from abusing the schemes available.

How can JOS solutions help companies that want to digitalise their operations?

We have a suite of Future Workplace solutions to help organisations with their digitalisation in these 3 aspects empowering real-time teamwork, enabling productivity from every corner and leveraging the power of data.

Empowering real-time teamwork

In this increasingly connected world, it is imperative for organisations to empower employees with the tools they need to communicate and collaborate effectively. Embracing such digitalisation efforts would enable employees to share their knowledge, innovate and resolve problems as a team efficiently. For example, unified communication solutions like Enterprise Instant Messaging system allow employees who are working remotely to communicate real-time and respond rapidly, resulting in a boost in work productivity. Collaboration tools like Intranet also enable employees to engage in real-time teamwork, co-develop strategies and partake in continuous innovation.

Enabling productivity from every corner

Another way companies can digitalise their operations is by incorporating productivity solutions into their business processes. For example, mobility tools like Mobile Device & Application Management (MDM) allow devices used by businesses to be monitored and managed securely. As businesses shift their on-premise IT infrastructure to cloud services, they can also reap benefits such as improved reliability, scalability and agility, contributing to the bottom line. For instance, companies who adopt disaster recovery-as-a-service can remain uninterrupted in times of emergency without worrying about lack of IT expertise and resources.

Leveraging the power of data

Businesses can also leverage the power of data through JOS’ Data Management and Data Visualisation & Analytics. For example, with data automation, companies can take advantage of advanced data preparation and processing systems to transform complex data into meaningful information. Moreover, with the aid of data visualisation tools, employees can better understand the data through visual context and derive powerful insights from trends and patterns, empowering businesses to make data-driven strategies in this competitive business landscape.

We also provide consultation to understand the companies’ challenges and requirements before providing recommendations to maximise their business outcomes while keeping their budget under control.

JOS has just published the Future Workplace Brochure. What does it entail?

The brochure highlights the importance of staying relevant in the workplace amidst all the changes as a result of digital transformation. With our work environment being digitally disrupted, it is vital for businesses to adopt new solutions to accelerate the digital transformation journey. Apart from business operations, the Future of Workplace also involves empowering our employees with technology and embedding it into the work culture through a digital-first approach.

When it comes to employees, their willingness to adapt to change and adopt new technology may vary, hence we would say the Future of Work entails managing change, on top of the new nature of work and new collaborations. It is important for organisations to provide innovative learning and development programmes for employees so they can seize new opportunities amid the fast-changing landscape. Besides leveraging technology, the organisation’s culture also plays a key role in managing change and promoting greater innovation. In an environment that is changing constantly, it is crucial for employees to keep abreast of industry developments and master new skills.


About Andrew Tan, Managing Director at JOS Singapore

As the Managing Director of JOS Singapore, Andrew Tan spearheads JOS business and operations in Singapore, leading the company’s transformation and growth. He took up this position in 2016, bringing with him more than two decades of business experience in the technology field, blending his technology expertise with his strong business acumen.

Prior to JOS, Mr Tan held several Senior Sales and Business Management roles in multi-national companies including NEC, IBM and Cisco. He has a proven record of bringing excellent results and values to businesses through innovation and strategic alliance. Andrew has also been successful in leading teams through organisational change initiatives.

Mr Tan holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Computer Science with Management from The Open University in the UK.

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Mark Ko

Besides tech, I love chicken rice. Point me in the right direction and I'll go and try it. :)

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