A new global survey entitled ‘Navigator: Made for the Future’ by HSBC has found out that while more than a third of Asian businesses are prioritising expansion into new markets, even more are turning their attention to improving productivity and new technologies.
Accordingly, the survey reveals that 43 per cent of companies in Asia are citing innovation as fundamental to future success, compared to companies in Europe (42 per cent) and North America (29 per cent).
The majority of markets in Asia cited innovation as their top investment priority, focusing on two pillars – people and platforms – both largely in line with global findings.
Stuart Tait, regional head of Commercial Banking at HSBC Asia-Pacific, believes Asian businesses are more buoyant about their prospects than the rest of the world given the economic vibrancy of the region.
“With rising urbanisation, a growing middle class as well as upbeat intra-Asia investment and trade activity, businesses are seeing more opportunities than threats on the horizon,” said Tait.
Tait also believes companies in Asia are staying agile in response to their fast-evolving customer base. “Asian businesses are attuned to disruption, and recognise that productivity and new technologies are critical to prosperity and longevity.”
Meanwhile, 44 per cent of Asian businesses expect to grow by three to five per cent over the next two years, making them more bullish than their European (32 per cent) and North American (30 per cent) peers. To help drive this growth, companies in Asia are honing in on environmentally and socially responsible opportunities.
According to Tait, the strategy for Asian businesses is not hinged on growing at all costs. “To be ‘Made for the Future’, businesses are doubling down on sustainability, with 50 per cent of companies planning to increase their sustainability investments.”
The findings also reveal a contrast amongst Asian businesses’ appetite for sustainability compared to companies in Europe (39 per cent) and North America (45 per cent). Of the Asian markets surveyed, businesses in India (59 per cent), Indonesia (57 per cent) and mainland China (60 per cent) are leading the pack.
According to the survey, technology is driving a structural shift in the future workforce in Asia. Companies have a dual-objective for technology: driving customer-centricity and upskilling their people.
Reflecting on customer-centricity, more than three in four Asian businesses (78 per cent) believe the integration of new technologies will help their people better understand customer needs.
Furthermore, the survey found that digital transformation is impacting the skills people need to compete in the future. In Asia, companies are investing in digital marketing skills (21 per cent), sustainable business practices (17 per cent) and systems-design thinking (18 per cent), which is in line with peers in Europe and North America.
“A business is only as strong as its people. As technology evolves, the time is now for organisations to equip their people with technology-led training so they can advance in lockstep,” Tait said.
“Businesses are putting their people at the heart of what they do. It’s clear Asian companies see upskilling and technology as the key to ‘future proofing’ their business, strategy and people,” Tait concluded.
The survey was conducted on more than 2,500 companies across 14 markets globally, including over 1,300 firms from seven major economies in Asia-Pacific in May 2019.