4 in 5 Singapore firms deploy automation to boost productivity

Automation will be critical in driving productivity and performance for most enterprises in Singapore, according to the new industry report The State of Digital Automation 2023 commissioned by SGTech and Workato.

The report is based on anonymised data collected from 133 enterprises in Singapore with annual revenues that range from under S$1 million to over $500 million.

The data was aggregated from a 20-question survey held from mid-July to early August 2022. This survey invited participation from all organisations with a business presence in Singapore.

Results showed that digital automation, the application of digital technology to automate business processes and reduce manual and repetitive tasks involving multiple teams, is being entrenched across enterprises, whether they are large enterprises or small-medium enterprises (SMEs), with 83% of enterprises saying that they have deployed at least one automation solution. 

Business process management, robotic process automation and iPaaS emerge as the top automations deployed in businesses.

An overwhelming majority (98%) of enterprises saw positive results, including reduced manual work, visibility and access to data, and improved employee experience. 

The survey revealed that better productivity, cost reduction through reducing manpower needs, and efficiency in product development were top motivations for enterprises to implement automation. 

“As economic uncertainty looms and companies deal with ongoing disruptions, it is unsurprising that organisations are turning to digital investments such as automation to drive efficiency and plug talent gaps,” said Allan Teng, founder and managing director of Workato, Asia Pacific and Japan. 

The report also found that 81% of respondents intend to automate just as much as last year, if not more, in 2023, and 82% of respondents observed results within six months.

Also, IT/engineering, sales and finance functions were observed to reap the most impactful outcomes from automation.

Among organisations that have yet to deploy automation, eight out of 10 organisations are intending to start in 2023. 

However, 36% of enterprises cited overly technical processes as a roadblock for business teams to automate independently.

Digital automations are still majority owned by IT departments, according to 54% of respondent enterprises. Enterprises also reported that the likelihood of achieving or outperforming their targets was higher, at 78%, when every department was involved.

To empower non-IT business functions to deliver automation projects, organisations can consider adopting easy-to-build automation platforms and low-code/no-code technologies. 

A change management program that involves all stakeholders will also be key to driving adoption and successful automation programs that meet departmental automation needs.