ASEAN SME Transformation Study 2022
11 Aug 2022
Are You Resilient Enough?
After more than two years of business disruption 1,000 regional SMEs share how they continue to navigate significant uncertainty.
As these pressures converge, businesses across the region need to constantly adapt to remain competitive. To help ASEAN SMEs gain insight into the strategies taken by their peers, UOB, Accenture and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) have collaborated on the ASEAN SME Transformation Study.
The insights, concluded in Q1 2022, capture the sentiments of 1,500 SMEs across five key ASEAN markets – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This report explores how ASEAN SMEs are pivoting their strategy and operations to thrive in an uncertain business environment, as well as how they are accelerating digitalisation and sustainability efforts to build more agile and resilient businesses. It also examines the role that regional partners – including banks, governments and technology providers, have to play in supporting SMEs.
The survey delves into SMEs’ business strategies and operations, as well as their responses to megatrends such as digitalisation and sustainability, set against the backdrop of the pandemic and other ensuing challenges such as the recent Ukraine conflict and its resulting impact on business.
It also outlines SMEs’ needs and expectations from their key strategic partners, namely their banks, as well as ecosystem partners such as technology providers and government agencies.
Whilst businesses looked expectantly towards 2022 as a year of renewal, markets were plunged into fresh upheaval with the recent Russia-Ukraine conflict.
From the survey, a majority (55 per cent) of businesses expressed optimism about their business recovery outlook despite challenges posed by recent geopolitical and macroeconomic developments. While there is renewed ambition towards business recovery, a significant proportion of SMEs (45 per cent) in the region remain concerned about the need to transform their business models.
44 per cent of SMEs surveyed acknowledged the shift to digital platforms in consumer preferences and have singled out customer engagement as a pressing concern.
Beyond digitalisation and technology initiatives, sustainability has emerged as a megatrend. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities are a growing strategic priority amongst both large corporates and SMEs in the region. Two out of three SMEs (65 per cent) indicate that sustainability is currently an area of importance and concern.