A culture of innovation strengthens business resilience and fuels economic recovery in Singapore

A culture of innovation strengthens business resilience and fuels economic recovery in Singapore

As Singapore and Asia Pacific continue to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, 80% of business decision-makers in Singapore today state that innovation is now a 'must' for them to rapidly respond to market challenges and opportunities and ensure progress. Almost all (98 percent) of Asia Pacific's leading organizations with the most mature culture of innovation (leaders) believe that innovation is a must to remain resilient during a crisis.

Innovation has become more critical and easier as the pandemic has forced organisations to innovate

Innovation is no longer an option, but it is necessary for success and survival. With the pandemic and the economic downturn it has brought, at a pace and scale that we have not had to face before, all of us are facing new challenges and changes. Although it is clear that organizations have prioritized the adoption of technology to enable remote continuity of work and business, we have seen that those who have emerged stronger are those who have incorporated the opportunity to innovate into the heart of their organizations,” said Kevin Wo, Microsoft Singapore's Managing Director.

In fact, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Singapore organizations are driving digitalization, from releasing digital goods and integrating digital payments to adopting e-commerce and automation, in a variety of ways to adapt to the new reality. The number of Singapore companies that are innovation leaders has also increased by more than 30 percent (up by 4 percentage points) from pre-COVID times during this period.

During the crisis, companies across Singapore realized how much their capacity to innovate drives their success and company resilience. In reaction to the threats and new business dynamics, they were also pushed to evolve and drive change. In doing so, they have found that it is not as difficult as they had expected. More than half ( 52%) of Singapore organizations now say they find it easier to push innovation, compared to 3 in 10 (31%) of them before COVID-19, which also increased from 32% to 64% across Asia Pacific, ” explained Sandra Ng, Group Vice President, Practice Group, IDC Asia / Pacific.

Growing proportion of Leaders among Singapore organisations

The study also implemented the Culture of Innovation Framework to analyze the approach of companies to innovation, covering the dimensions of individuals, procedures, data and technology. Through the report, the performance of organizations was mapped to four dimensions (People, Procedures, Data and Technology), with organizations grouped into four phases: Traditionalist (Stage 1), Inexperienced (Stage 2), Adaptor (Stage 3) and Leaders (Stage 4). In developing a culture of creativity, leaders involve organizations that are the most mature.

Fig 1: Culture of Innovation Framework

Fig 1: Culture of Innovation Framework

The study found that organizations in Singapore have matured by 8 percent in the culture of innovation over the span of six months, an indicator that they have strengthened their capacity to innovate. In contrast, Asia Pacific organizations saw an 11 percent increase in the maturity of Culture of Innovation, with the regional proportion of leaders rising by more than 50 percent.

Although the increase in Singapore was marginally lower than the average increase in Asia Pacific, there is a higher representation of leaders (Stage 4) in Singapore (16 percent) than the average in Asia Pacific (8 percent). This is significant because, considering the pandemic, 1 in 3 leaders plan to grow their market share and almost 1 in 2 (45 percent) assume that their companies will be able to rebound in 6 months or less from the effects of COVID-19.

Fig 2: Growth in Culture of Innovation Maturity in Singapore (%)

Fig 2: Growth in Culture of Innovation Maturity in Singapore (%)

"We see a constant hunger for development and change among leaders. 45 percent of them said during COVID-19 that they think their business model will lose its competitiveness in 5 years , compared to 34 percent of companies in Singapore. Sandra Ng, Group Vice President, Practice Group, IDC Asia / Pacific, said this drive and urgency for continuous improvement through agility and adaptation to change would define the success of companies in this new standard.

Increasing focus on People and Technology in Singapore

Going forward, Singapore business decision-makers said they would emphasize the need to implement new ways of working with remote work as the new standard as a long-term plan to demonstrate their business in the future.

In particular, the two key goals for Singapore organizations going into the next year were found to be the culture of creativity, people (34.3 percent) and technology (29.4 percent); a similar pattern was observed across the country.

Fig 3: People and Technology as the two focus areas for organisations in Singapore (%)

Fig 3: People and Technology as the two focus areas for organisations in Singapore (%)

"It is exciting to see that business leaders in Singapore understand that any ambition for digital transformation is diminished without a focus on people and digital culture," Kevin said. "It is a vital component of the culture of innovation to invest in the abilities and talents of their workers to properly exploit technology, which we call Tech Strength."

Although for all organizations in Singapore and Asia Pacific, the people factor remains the weakest, there are lessons that we can learn from leaders. Among some of the best practices that business decision-makers should consider in Singapore are:

·         Culture: 89% of leaders have developed a culture of embracing innovative ideas and fostering creativity as a corporate culture (Singapore 75%).

·         Rewards / Incentive: 82% of leaders favor and formalize innovation rewards over conventional results (Singapore 64%).

·         Talent: 82% of leaders (66% in Singapore) employ a multi-industry, multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce.

·         Skilling: 70 percent of leaders (57 percent in Singapore) invest in increasing company-wide skills and skills initiatives.