New $14m centre will help SMEs improve customer experience, retain staff

The new Centre for Experience Management Innovation in Asia aims to empower more than 180,000 SMEs in Singapore. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A new centre of excellence has opened its doors to Singapore's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to help them sharpen their skills to serve their customers and retain employees.

The $14.1 million Centre for Experience Management Innovation in Asia, the first of its kind in the region, is a collaboration between Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB), German software giant SAP and its majority-owned experience management firm Qualtrics, said a joint statement on Friday (Feb 11).

A spokesman for SAP told The Straits Times that the centre officially opened on Friday and is located at the Mapletree Business City in Pasir Panjang Road, where SAP has its regional headquarters and Singapore office.

Experience management (XM) refers to efforts by organisations to track, measure, analyse and improve the experiences they provide to customers as well as stakeholders such as vendors, suppliers, employees and shareholders.

The centre aims to empower more than 180,000 SMEs in Singapore by enabling them to utilise advanced technologies, upskill employees with XM core skill sets, and elevate Singapore companies on the global market.

It also plans to create up to 30 new job roles, including XM scientists and researchers, business architects and digital supply chain practitioners, while helping to attract local and international companies to drive innovation.

Companies such as Qualtrics develop software and other tools that help businesses attract customers that remain loyal and buy more, engage employees to build a positive culture, develop and improve products and build brands.

A recent study by Qualtrics found that poor customer experience could be costing businesses in Singapore up to $14.9 billion annually. A separate poll conducted by the company revealed that 48 per cent of Singaporeans plan to switch jobs in 2022, mainly for better work-life balance and growth opportunities.

Mr Mao Gen Foo, head of South-east Asia at Qualtrics, said: "For organisations in Singapore to win and lead in today's experience-driven marketplaces, we need to uplift awareness of the impact XM can unlock, alongside boosting capacity, resources and capabilities to drive such initiatives."

Ms Eileen Chua, managing director at SAP Singapore, said: "Experience management is not only a pressing priority for businesses in the competitive marketplace, but also a key differentiator to unlock innovation and drive and deliver customer value and retention."

Mr Ang Chin Tah, senior vice-president and head of digital industry at the EDB, said the centre will partner local and regional businesses to help them become more competitive, and provide learning opportunities for Singaporeans in employing digital tools to better understand their customers.

"SAP and Qualtrics' launch of their Asia-first Centre for Experience Management Innovation here speaks to their confidence in Singapore as an innovation and commercial hub," he added.

The centre in Singapore is the latest in a series of Qualtrics' initiatives here. In mid-2021, the firm announced the opening of a dedicated data centre to help accelerate experience transformation, alongside plans to hire 1,200 new employees by 2024.

The SAP spokesman said the centre will publish thought leadership materials and industry benchmarks related to XM, and host associated events for SMEs and other organisations. 

SMEs can also speak with SAP or Qualtrics teams at the event or get in touch with the teams directly, he said. 

In addition, the centre will offer XM certifications to local professionals through training courses providing access to materials and resources.

There will also be opportunities to run pilot projects with SMEs for them to experience the power of XM first-hand, he added.

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