Singapore Business Confidence Holds Steady

In stark contrast to 2010 where satisfaction levels were largely similar across small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and enterprises, in 2011, companies which showed the highest levels of satisfaction with their business performance were those with between 200 and 999 employees.


While these companies are seeking opportunity, they are less optimistic about the economic outlook and have become conservative about their ambitions for growth. On the other hand, organisations with between 50 and 199 employees continue to be aggressive with their ambitions for growth and their expectations of technology. 


These are the findings of the second annual Ambition Gap Survey, a barometer of Singapore businesses’ confidence in their ability to grow to meet the needs of both domestic and global economies. The survey was launched by consumer electronics firm Canon.


“At this critical juncture, companies need to understand the opportunity that lies ahead of them,” said Lim Kok Hin, Vice President, Business Imaging Solutions Group, Canon Singapore.  “We recognise that technology alone is not enough. You must have the right people, equipped with the tools and processes to make smarter decisions, to drive your business forward, and the technology in place that helps them work faster.” 


Noted Venu Reddy, Vice President, AMI Partners,”Findings from the 2011 Ambition Gap survey showed that larger companies, with their relatively high exposure to global economy, have been conservative with their goals and expectations. Smaller companies, more aggressive due to their dependence on the stronger local economy, are more aggressive with their growth targets and thus exhibit a greater Ambition Gap.”

Digitisation of Data Continues to Grow

One of the significant trends observed in the findings is that businesses are increasingly turning to electronic document management solutions. 


In 2011, 63% of respondents found that digitisation of documents were a priority, a huge increase from 2010 when only 32% of respondents found this a significant business priority.  


AMI attributes this to regulatory compliance, and the need to archive and retrieve documents with relative ease.  This has resulted in companies upgrading their paper-based processes to computerised processes where documents can be indexed, catalogued and searched.  


In recognition of this trend, Canon and Nuance have partnered to create a hosted optical character recognition (OCR) service that converts scanned paper into editable word processing, spreadsheet and searchable PDF documents. This is standard in all Canon Advanced ImageRunner machines from today.


Engaged Employees Seek Ambitious Companies

The core differentiator for most companies is their business process. To take full advantage of this core differentiation, companies should invest in solutions that augment their business processes, better enable their employees be more productive and drive better customer experience.


This is in line with the findings from the personal Ambition Gap (based on insights from individuals employed in similar companies in Singapore).


Although empowered, these employees are working longer hours as they take ownership of their work.  They noted a preference for their companies to provide them with the process and technology that would better improve their productivity.


In recognition of this gap, Canon launched the Canon Self-Empowerment Program (CSEP). 


The six month long program aimed to helping leaders understand the needs of their employees, communicate effectively and learn the use of new technologies so as to enable the closing of the gap between the employee and the employer.  So far, nine companies have participated in the Program with 19 graduates completing the course – one C-Level staff from each participating company and 10 Canon staff.

Document Management
Despite the differing gap, companies, regardless of size, are concerned with cost control. They are looking for better value on their return on investment (ROI), and using better solutions to deliver value for their customers. Instead of just cutting costs, they are looking at strategies that align people, processes and technologies to drive business growth.


When asked about cloud computing technologies, 50% of respondents felt that efficiencies and cost control would be created by the adoption of cloud computing technologies and 75% of respondents believed that cloud computing was an option that their companies should consider. 


Value not Cost Defines Investment
29% of the respondents noted that their investment in print activity which was between SGD1000 – SGD5000 a month in 2011 would increase in 2012 signalling an increased need for document management solutions.


When reviewing the process for printing and document management, it is critical to tie this back to key business processes to review what needs to be printed and the type of quality. For instance, AMI noted that while customer-facing materials are high priority, the main printout volume seems to be on internal documents for most companies. In order to maximise the ROI and improve employee and customer experience, it is important to align documents to the print solutions.


AMI notes that larger companies, especially in a challenging economy, should review print activity to better align their relevance and importance of that activity to the print solutions.  This alignment will address one of the key business priorities of improving the quality and speed of interaction with the customers (both existing and potential customers).


Based on a recent study done by AMI Partners, it was shown that one third of the print activity of midsize and large companies is customer facing.  “It is important not to take a broad-brush approach to control print cost, but control the low value print costs while investing in the high impact customer facing print activities” noted Venu Reddy.


Further analysis of the findings show that businesses with smaller workforces should take advantage of the current economic situation to gain strategic advantage over their larger competition.  These types of organisation will gain by investing in business processes that increase efficiency and productivity, and that align their brand to their ambition. 




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