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Nearly one quarter of businesses in SEA are digital leaders: study

Adrian M. Reodique | Dec. 16, 2016
Digital leaders reported a stronger profit growth, higher employee engagement, and a culture that is more inclusive.

Nearly one-quarter of businesses (24 percent) in the Southeast Asia (SEA) region are "digital leaders", according to a new study by SAP SE and Oxford Economics titled "Leaders 2020". This is higher than the global average of 16 percent.

The study polled more than 2,050 executives and 2,050 non-executive employees in 21 countries, across multiple industries. Approximately 12 percent of the respondents came from countries in the SEA region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

The study defines digital leaders as organisations that have embrace digital technologies, streamline decision making, flatten the business, and build a digital workforce. These businesses have also executives who communicate a company-wide digital strategy, keep management worker skills updated, and streamline organisational structure.

As compared to other executives in the region, the study revealed that digital leaders have experienced a stronger profit growth (76 percent versus 60 percent), more satisfied employees (87 percent versus 51 percent), and a more inclusive culture.

As a result, three quarter of these digital leaders (75 percent) have employees who are more likely to stay in the company if given the chance to leave, than 45 percent for the rest of the region.

Besides that, the study revealed the digital leaders are more likely to invest in talent and have more advanced strategies for recruitment, development, and retention. More than half of these digital leaders (56 percent) mainly fill roles from within the company, than 33 percent of other executives.

Positive results of diversity in the workplace

According to the study, the workforce in SEA companies has become more diverse compared to other regions, over the past three years.

Majority of the respondents (75 percent) saw improvements in the diversity of the general workforce in their organisations, while 42 percent observed an increase in board and senior leadership.  Despite this, less than 40 percent of the respondents believed their companies have effective diversity programmes in place.

Aside from that, most of the respondents in the region recognise the positive impact of diversity in work culture (62 percent). However, the study suggests that only digital leaders are more likely to see the benefits of diversity in financial performance (37 percent) compared to other executives (25 percent).

In addition, the study found that 61 percent of executives in the region are making data-driven decisions. Sixty-two percent of them also felt that their employees are equipped with the skills important to keep up with digital technology.

"A diverse workforce encourages bold, innovative ideas to flourish and in turn, presents insights which are only made possible through that diversity. It is of little coincidence that these two capabilities - leveraging data for decisions and maintaining a diverse workforce - both occur for high-performing organisations," said Scott Russell, President and Managing director of SAP SEA, in a press release. 


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