Listed firms need more vision, keen eye on tech

As an investor in the Singapore stock market, I could not have agreed more with the report ("Is S'pore Inc destroying value?"; July 18).

Many listed companies here are becoming reactive to change instead of being proactive, are more competition-focused than customer-focused, and are milking existing assets instead of creating new revenue streams.

I believe the reasons that many Singapore-listed companies are experiencing declining growth rates are the lack of vision by the management team and lack of people with a technology background on the board.

Most businesses start by building on the vision of their founders. Businesses usually start to dwindle once their founders leave the company.

Many companies' boards of directors and management teams consist of operation managers instead of visionaries.

These managers are good at handling the daily operations of the business, but are usually able to only continue existing product lines, with updates, and not develop brand-new products.

This causes innovation within the company to dwindle.

Vision is what start-ups are about and is what allows these small players to win over customers.

There is also a lack of directors with a background in the technology industry.

These tech industry directors will be able to advise companies on the disruption they are facing, as well as how to move forward, taking a proactive approach.

In the United States, people with tech backgrounds are increasingly holding board seats in non-tech organisations (for instance, Apple chief executive Tim Cook being on Nike's board, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella being on Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre's board).

As technology continues to disrupt industry after industry, incumbents will need to engage tech experts to help fend off competitors.

Ng Chee Siang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'Listed firms need more vision, keen eye on tech'. Subscribe