Less than a third of APAC firms well-prepared for disruption

More than nine in every 10 (92%) businesses in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC) believe that an adaptive culture and continuous employee upskilling is very important, though only 30% see their organisation as very prepared for unexpected changes or disruptions, according to SAP.

A global research by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services commissioned by SAP found that as APAC businesses increase their investment in people (62%), business processes like innovation or services (69%), and operations (43%) over the next year.

The report, titled ‘Anticipating the Future for Growth and Innovation’, surveyed 442 global organisations across APAC, North America, and Europe.

“What this report shows is that, while agility and resilience are critical to prepare for the future, there’s still no single way to anticipate the changes the future will bring,” said Cathy Ward, SAP COO in APAC including Japan. 

Globally, businesses are strongly focused on strategic planning, many are working to relatively short-term horizons. Almost three quarters (73%) of organisations say they plan for between one and five years into the future. Just one in five (20%) of respondents say their planning horizon is more than five years out.

The top four priorities respondents selected were revenue growth and improving profit margins (55%), finding new customers, markets, and growth areas (51%),  product and service innovation (47%), and retaining and attracting talent (46%). 

While APAC and other respondents across the globe are mostly aligned on priorities, one difference is in building a more resilient business ecosystem which was selected by more APAC respondents (42%) than respondents from the rest of the world (29%).

Despite the priority on anticipating the future, there remain critical challenges many businesses face when planning. Slow decision-making was identified as the biggest challenge by APAC respondents (38%) when anticipating the future, while attracting the right talent (36%) and retaining staff (36%) were both raised as key issues.

Another problem identified by many APAC companies was a hierarchical disconnect when it came to planning. A third (32%) of businesses said that lower-level employees not being involved in planning was a core problem. That may be because the more senior a role, the more they’re encouraged, and rewarded, to have a proactive mindset and think about the future.

“Executives in APAC are much more encouraged (80%) and rewarded (55%) to have a proactive mindset about the future than most other roles,” said Ward. “But while leaders are integral to building a future-ready business, they cannot do it alone. That’s why one of the most important steps a leader can take as they move towards becoming what we call the Chief Anticipation Officer is creating a culture of collaborative planning and forward-thinking mindset across the organisation.”