Sixty-nine per cent of SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region are accelerating their digitisation rates to address COVID-19 challenges, according to the Cisco 2020 Asia Pacific SMB Digital Maturity Study.
Further, 86 per cent of SMEs surveyed said they believe digitisation will help in developing resilience against crises like COVID-19.
The study found that $106.8 billion to $123.7 billion could be added to Australia’s GDP by 2024 due to the digitisation of Australian SMEs.
Among the leading digital challenges cited by Australian SMEs included the shortage of digital skills and talent (16 per cent), lack of enabling technologies (14 per cent) and lack of proper digital transformation roadmap (14 per cent).
“SMEs’ ability to compete is under rising pressure from rapidly changing market conditions and evolving technologies,” the report said.
“Businesses and society are unmistakably undergoing a technology-driven transformation which has accelerated as a result of COVID-19, driving the market to an inflection point.
“COVID-19 has accentuated the importance of technology, forcing SMEs to recognise that digitising is no longer an option but a necessity, and that accelerating their digitisation is key to becoming resilient and ensuring their future growth.”
More than 1,400 SMEs across a range of industries were surveyed for the study in early 2020, including financial services, manufacturing, telecommunications, media, transportation, construction, retail and wholesale.
Countries participating in the study were Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
A follow-up survey covering over 400 SMEs was also completed in May 2020 to understand how SMEs have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.