SINGAPORE (July 19): Executives in Singapore are the most confident among Asia Pacific (APAC) countries in their companies’ readiness to take on marketplace disruptions, shows the latest research from executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles.

The 2017 Heidrick & Struggles APAC survey was conducted among 558 executives from the APAC region to understand how organisations are preparing for and responding to market disruption. Some 32% of respondents were CEOs or board members, while the remaining 68% were other C-level executives.

For the purposes of the survey, “disruption” is defined by the firm as sudden, game-changing shifts in the competitive balance of an industry resulting from unexpected external events or from new technologies, products or services, or competitors.

Based on its findings, even as 83% of the executives interviewed expect the pace of disruption to increase in the coming 18 months, just 44% of respondents believe their company is well prepared.

Singapore executives were notably the most confident with more than half (53%) convinced in their company’s ability to face marketplace disruptions, whereas Japan-based respondents were the least confident (39%).   

42% of bank executives across the region believe their company is a source of disruption in the market, whilst responses from executives in other industries such as professional services (26%), industrial/manufacturing (30%), and consumer goods (37%) trailed behind.

Nearly two-thirds of the executives who said their company was a disruptor apparently hailed from larger organisations with 5,000 or more employees.

When asked what gave these companies a disruptive edge, the number one factor cited among respondents was the “innovative use of technology”.

The top factor which represents the most significant source of disruption and change for participants’ companies over the next 18 months, according to the survey, is “increasing customer expectations for service, convenient or cost”.

This is followed by “new, tech-enabled business models” and “the speed of technological change in our industry or business”.

“Mobilising (the ability to inspire aligned action based on a compelling ambition and purpose an a simple set of strategic priorities) appears to be a strength throughout the region. Execution, by contrast, appears to be a relative weakness, as companies struggle with overcomplicated organisational structures and the ability to attract talent, among other factors,” notes Heidrick & Struggles in its report, Asia Pacific disrupted: Winning capabilities for uncertain times.

“Transformational thinking is viewed broadly as a strength, but organisational barriers and silo behaviour may be holding companies back,” adds the firm.