Nearly 75% of Singapore firms accelerating digitalisation due to Covid-19

Being forced to innovate quickly amid the pandemic has made firms realise that it was not as challenging as they had expected. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE -The Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped mixed martial arts promotion One Championship from holding large scale fights but the company has figured out how the show can go on:


Besides live-streaming fights so that fans can tune in from wherever they are, the Singapore-based firm is working on taking the digital experience to the next level by offering data-driven insights for viewers as they stream live shows.

For example, statistics could be displayed onscreen in real time to demonstrate the speed of a particular punch or kick.

Going forward, the company is also exploring the possibility of other cutting-edge concepts such as the use of holographic computing to help athletes visualise fights so as to prevent injuries during training sessions.

These are just some of the benefits of digitalisation for One Championship that will help the company make its offerings more immersive in response to the coronavirus, which has halted live sporting events with spectator crowds.

One Championship is among nearly three quarters of Singapore's organisations which are accelerating their pace of digitalisation due to the pandemic, according to new survey results jointly released on Thursday (Sept 10) by tech giant Microsoft and market research firm IDC Asia Pacific.

Conducted in two phases - first in December 2019 and January this year ("pre-Covid"), and then again in July ("since Covid") - the study surveyed 202 business decision makers and 219 workers in Singapore.

Respondents in the survey worked in various sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, and banking and retail.

Microsoft Singapore's managing director Kevin Wo told The Straits Times: "With the pandemic and the economic crisis it has brought, all of us are experiencing new challenges and changes at a speed and scale that we've not had to address before."

About 80 per cent of the companies surveyed in July said that innovation is critical to strategy success, up from the 67 per cent that said so during phase one of the study.

"Innovation is no longer an option, but essential to survival and success," said Mr Wo.

In a photo taken on Feb 28, 2020, Tiffany Teo (left) throws an elbow at Ayaka Miura during a bout in the One Championship King of the Jungle event in Singapore. One Championship started live-streaming fights so that fans can tune in from wherever they are. PHOTO: ST FILE

Being forced to innovate quickly amid the pandemic has made firms realise that it was not as challenging as they had expected, added the report.

More than half of the companies said in July that they found it easier to drive innovation, up from the 31 per cent before Covid-19 hit. Some of the factors cited as major innovation blockers before the Covid-19 outbreak were culture, innovation mindset and fear of failure.

Mr Wo said: "Organisations had to switch to digital as the pandemic provided a strong impetus for them to act immediately, so whatever barriers they had previously had to be removed. Pre-Covid, organisations in Singapore always had digital on their agenda but their approach to innovation was more of an evolved journey - experimenting and adjusting along the way."

Along with the survey results, the study also introduced the Culture of Innovation Framework, which assesses a company's approach to innovation by looking at people, process, data and technology.

In general, Singapore firms scored the lowest in the people category, which looks at indicators such as skilling initiatives and having a diverse workforce.

Mr Wo said: "The reality is that technology on its own will not make a difference - it is people who will allow organisations to innovate and transform.

"Companies must not only invest in technology, but also invest in human capital so as to cultivate a workplace culture that encourages innovation and embraces digitalisation."

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