Singapore CFOs: Positive on the Economy, Worried About Technology Disruption

Nine out of ten CFOs from Singapore surveyed in a study commissioned by credit card company American Express study expect the local economy to grow this year, up from 80% in 2017, 60% in 2016 and 82% in 2010.

Despite the optimism, one in three of the 30 Singapore finance leaders interviewed acknowledge that next-generation technology innovations are likely to bring major disruption to the competitive dynamics of their industry (33% versus a global average of 23% of 870 CFOs interviewed worldwide) and the economic well-being of their country (30% versus a global average of 21%).

“With the government encouraging digitalization and many businesses already investing in new technology, it’s more crucial than ever for companies to set aside funds to make smart investments and stay ahead of competition,” said Celine Chua, American Express’s Vice President and General Manager of Global Corporate Payments for Singapore.

“To remain successful, companies need to be agile enough to turn the challenges of disruption into opportunities for growth.”

Finding opportunities

When asked what keeps them up at night, almost eight in 10 (77%) CFOs in Singapore point to artificial intelligence as the technology most likely to have an impact on their industry in the next five years. This is followed by robotics and automation (47%) and embedded sensors (40%).

Consistent with their ranking, Singapore CFOs intend to focus their spending first and foremost on artificial intelligence initiatives. The second area of investment is alternative energy generation, followed by spending on embedded sensors.

Against the backdrop of optimism about the economy, many CFOs plan to turn the risk of technology disruption into opportunities. Four in ten (40%) are seeking to become tech pioneers that will bring next-generation technology to their industries.

The majority (57%) self-identify as risk-aware investors who are spending on next-gen tech as a hedge against technology change. Only 3% consider themselves skeptical investors who see little opportunity or threat in new technologies.

Privacy and Security

While enthusiastic about new technologies, local CFOs remain mindful of the risks related to the privacy and security of their data and their customers.

Protection against data breaches is top of mind with 27% of Singapore respondent, who consider it the single most important IT-spending priority for this year. This is followed by cloud computing and the integration of different information systems (both 13%).

“While CFOs are actively investing in innovative technologies, they need to remember the importance of data security and working with trusted service providers,” said Chua. “Only with peace of mind about the privacy of their data can companies and their customers make full use of new technologies.”