APAC firms see struggle to be future-ready as pandemic lingers

There will be a continued disruption and transformation of businesses in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on through 2021, according to a new study from Vodafone Business.

Conducted in September and October 2020, the survey covered more than a thousand businesses across Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, China and India.

Almost half (48%) of businesses in APAC expect that “substantial” or “radical” changes will be required to their business models in the next 12 months. Among them, 43% expect that making these fundamental changes to their business will be difficult to implement. 

However, there is an undercurrent of optimism across businesses in APAC, with more than half (54%) saying they are “excited” about the future of their businesses ahead of 2021.

Also, the report found that more than a quarter (27%) of companies in the region are “future ready” businesses, best prepared for future success. These firms are identified by six common characteristics — having a positive attitude to change, being open to new technology, taking clear steps towards business transformation, setting a detailed strategy, keeping up-to-date with relevant trends and uncertainties, and being adaptable.

Across the region, firms have responded to the pandemic by adding urgency to transformation plans, signalling a mindset shift about business success factors in a post-pandemic economy.

Among “future-ready” firms — those that are most confident and well-prepared for emerging trends, challenges, and possibilities — nearly three in four (74%) have done so.

Factors that accelerated digital transformation for APAC Future Ready businesses include increase in support among senior management (53%), initiatives to unlock efficiencies/new revenue streams (52%), and the adoption of an “innovate or die” mindset within companies (46%).

APAC Future Ready businesses are already seeing some positive benefits of post COVID-19 business transformation — enhanced cyber security (55%), more innovation/research and development (50%), and improved communication/collaboration among staff (49%).

“Future Ready businesses are already reaping the benefits of their efforts, with some even bucking the global downturn to increase profits during this time,” said Dan Beevers, Vodafone Business president in Asia Pacific.

Beevers said businesses can -– and should –- set themselves up for success in the post-pandemic economy by focusing on the imperatives such as setting a detailed strategy, taking clear steps towards business transformation, and increasing adaptability.