SINGAPORE (April 16): Small and medium businesses (SMBs) in Singapore has emerged top among 14 Asia Pacific countries in Cisco’s APAC SMB Digital Maturity Index, but not without facing challenges in their digital transformation journeys.

According to the Index results released by the security firm today, the top three hurdles cited by respondents was a lack of digital skills and talent within the organisation (16.7%), a lack of insight into operational and customer data (16.7%), followed by a lack of perceived value for digital transformation in their respective industries (13.1%).

Based on the survey of 1,340 respondents representing SMBs across 14 countries, Singapore was classified at the ‘Digital Observer’ stage of digital maturity – a stage defined by a heavy focus on process automation to achieve efficiencies, and one that is best exemplified by the technologies each country’s SMBs are prioritising their investments in.

In Singapore, Cybersecurity emerged the top technology investment priority (16.7%), followed by Cloud technology (12.9%).

Cisco observes that this highlights how security is placed at the front and centre of companies’ digital transformation journey, while Cloud-related investments are in line with a regional trend of cloud adoption due to quicker and more convenient scaling processes without the need for significant upfront IT infrastructure capital investments.

The firm also notes that SMBs in Singapore are also increasingly adopting Analytics technologies, as a significant 11.2% of respondents listed it as one of the top three technologies they are investing in – making the city state one out of two countries, the other being China, to cite Analytics as among their top three tech investments.

To Cisco, it means these SMBs have a proactive data-driven approach in their go-to-market decision making.

Other findings of the Index also indicate an increasing rate of digitisation on a regional level, as more than 60% of SMB respondents in the Asia Pacific are noted to embrace digitisation on improving internet access and growing smartphone ownership.

“SMBs in Singapore are often the first to embed digital technologies into the business to amplify their size, presence and competitiveness in the market. As a result, they are the first to benefit from productivity improvements, efficiency gains and new revenue opportunities. To get ahead, SMBs need to be more savvy with government initiatives that have been set up to support them,” says Tay Bee Kheng, managing director, Singapore, Cisco.