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4 concerns that will keep Singapore's business leaders awake at night in 2020

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In the coming year, Singapore's business leaders will be faced with a broad spectrum of concerns, framed by global macro-economic tensions, evolving challenges attached to digital transformation, and more. This is according to a new independent research by Robert Half.

Surveying 225 business leaders in Singapore, the research uncovered four key challenges that will keep them awake at night in 2020.

#1 Technological changes

Technological changes was highlighted by 45% of Singapore's business leaders as one of their primary external concerns in 2020. This highlights the continued dominance of technology on the business agenda.

Commenting on this point, Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director of Robert Half, said: "From improving customer experience through Big-Data to leveraging AI for enhanced productivity, business leaders have the opportunity to enhance nearly every aspect of their organisation through technology.

"However it is not simply about implement new operating systems and processes - they must first drive organisational change, cultivate a workforce who can leverage the potential of the emerging tech, and shore up their organisation against the evolving threats and restrictions specific to their industry."

#2 Economic uncertainty

US-China trade war and other geopolitical tensions have seen Singapore's business leaders take a cautious and wary view of their global growth outlook as major international trading partners navigate their own tightening economic outlook for 2020.

These concerns are exacerbated by uncertain domestic forecasts, with GDP growth stagnating alongside consumer confidence and expenditure, Hence, it's not surprising to see that 47% of Singapore's business leaders considered economic uncertainty to be one of the top challenges that they will face in their role until 2020.

#3 Managing change and delivering growth

Of business leaders surveyed, there was a shared concern over the external threats of technological and regulatory changes (45% and 44%, respectively).

Further, leaders face unique internal concerns specific to their role. CIOs were most concerned about AI and machine learning (57%) and cyber-security threats (49%), while CFOs were more concerned about managing and delivering growth (56%), and increasing regulatory issues (45%).

Imbert-Bouchard explained: "Strict new cyber-security regulations mean CIOs have a duty to continually evaluate their current security controls and reporting structures to ensure compliance while the introduction of virtual banking licenses has placed stringent regulatory, compliance, and security requirements at the forefront of many Singaporean CFOs minds, creating a shared demand for compliance and regulatory roles across both fields.".

#4 Improving productivity and retaining talent

As digital transformation continues to reframe how businesses operate, when it comes to talent management, improving productivity is cited as the primary concern by 40% of managers in Singapore. This was followed by talent retention (32%) and finding the right training for staff (32%).

Commenting on these findings, Imbert-Bouchard said: "With demand for technical capabilities continuing to outpace supply in the local market, Singaporean businesses run the risk of falling behind due to a deepening talent gap that will impede business growth."

He concluded by sharing three key pieces of advice for employers:

  • Think longer term about hiring for strong cultural fit and subsequently develop the workforce through training and skills development.
  • Continue to fine-tune robust staff attraction and retention programs.
  • Ensure a comprehensive professional development and training program is in place to equip staff with the right skills to successfully tackle the company’s digital transformation efforts.
Photo / 123RF

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