SAP survey says 40% of companies uncertain of business approach after pandemic disruption

The results of software firm SAP’s poll saw that many businesses are still uncertain on their next steps after the disruption caused by the pandemic. The survey of 4,500 Southeast Asian business leaders revealed the extent of COVID-19’s impact on businesses across the region and concerns about long-term prospects.

Unveiled at the inaugural “SAP Forward Together” virtual event on the new reality of businesses, the survey saw that 40% of the businesses polled are still adopting a “wait and see” approach in response to the pandemic.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the world economy going through a period of ‘reset’ for the ‘rebound’,” said Rachel Barger, president and managing director, SAP Southeast Asia. “The race for competitiveness has already started again, and countries that sprint forward now will leave others trailing behind.”

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As businesses make sense of the new post-pandemic economic reality, worries, and uncertainty over the long-term prospects of growth and survivability have emerged as the foremost concern. Over 80% of regional business leaders surveyed expect significant or massive impact to change their business model or operations, with just 1% expecting “business-as-usual” in the long run.

Digital platforms

The survey also found out that although businesses have pivoted their operations toward e-commerce and online selling, smaller businesses still worry over implementation costs of digital platforms and juggling operations to meet the sudden influx of demand. Around 20% of businesses foresee a need to adapt their customer experience strategies to meet evolving expectations and needs of customers across platforms.

The majority of regional business leaders (63%) surveyed have already seen changes in customers’ purchasing behavior and motivations since the start of 2020, although 21% of businesses are unsure or lack insight on changes in their customer’s needs. Amid this shift, organizations are still moving conservatively with their digital transformation efforts, with many adopting a protective stance with the mindset that disruption from COVID-19 will pass in due course.

Wait and see

“For countries and companies that are complacent with a ‘wait and see’ attitude, they would be left behind – and may even become ‘irrelevant’,” Barger said. “As businesses recalibrate their strategies for the long-term, it is crucial to shift away from an expectation to revert to normalcy as before. In a new reality, intelligent enterprises can ‘do more with less’, deliver best-in-class customer experience, build resilient supply chains, while inventing new business models and revenue streams.”

Supply chain and operations are also other aspects that businesses are keeping a close watch on, with 22% of businesses expecting a significant change in the future. Alongside changing customer consumption patterns, supply chains have shifted in the wake of safe-distancing measures of lockdowns, leading to a stop-go pattern in business-to-business operations.

With business-as-usual no longer an option, regional business leaders are adjusting organizational priorities with a focus on business transformation (21%), enhancing customer engagement (15%), making business processes more efficient (14%), ensuring business continuity (12%), and supply chain resilience and redefinition (9%).

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