As SMEs continue to suffer from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of them have accelerated their efforts to digitise their operations.
The Cisco 2020 Asia Pacific SMB Digital Maturity Study reveals that 69 per cent of SMEs in Asia Pacific are accelerating their digitisation rates, with Australia considered as a “Digital Observer” in terms of digitisation maturity, ranking fourth in the Asia Pacific region behind Singapore, Japan, and New Zealand.
The report shows that the events in 2020, including the outbreak of the pandemic, were a decisive factor for SMEs to accelerate their efforts, including an increase in spending, to digitise their operations as a means to survive and grow. In fact, 86 per cent of those surveyed say they believe digitalisation will help in developing resilience against crises like COVID-19.
It is also expected that $106.8 billion to $123.7 billion could be added to Australia’s GDP by 2024 due to the digitisation of Australian SMEs
The report also reveals some key challenges towards the digital shift. In the case of Australian SMEs, three key challenges stand out: the shortage of digital skills and talent (16 per cent), lack of enabling technologies (14 per cent) and a lack of proper digital transformation roadmap (14 per cent).
The research references a flash survey of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses that reveals 55 per cent of SMEs in Asia Pacific say that business digitisation is “important or critical” to building resilience to adapt to disruptive events such as COVID-19.