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Monday, January 23rd, 2017

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Only a quarter of SE Asian firms ready for digital leadership

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Nearly one-quarter of Southeast Asianbusinesses are Digital Leaders, a new study by SAP SE and Oxford Economics, the“ Leaders 2020 study” shows. This is higher than the global average of 16%; this new class of high-performing companies is reporting stronger profit growth, higher employee engagement, and cultures that are more inclusive.

These high-functioning organizations have executives who communicate a company-wide digital strategy, keep management and worker skills up to date, and streamline organizational structure.

Analysis of Southeast Asian firms in the Leaders 2020 study also affirms the business benefits of diversity, showing a correlation between those who are leading in digital transformation and those who have a heightened understanding of the importance of diversity.

Digital Leaders around the world and Southeast Asian respondents are both more likely to recognize diversity’s positive impact on culture (66% and 62%, respectively), but only Digital Leaders are more likely to see the benefits in financial performance (37% vs. 25%).

Companies have become more diverse in Southeast Asia than in other regions over the past three years. Three-quarters of Southeast Asian respondents saw diversity improvements in the general workforce of their organization, and 42% saw an increase in board and senior leadership, compared with 67% and 34% globally.

However, less than 40% in Southeast Asia state that their company has effective diversity programs in place, signaling more could be done, especially at the senior executive and corporate board levels.

The Leaders 2020 study also found that only 61% of Southeast Asian executives (vs. 55% globally) are making data-driven decisions, a key factor that makes a Digital Leader. It is of little wonder that only 62% of Southeast Asian executives (vs. 59% globally) feel that employees are equipped with the skills necessary to keep up with digital technology.

“A diverse workforce encourages bold, innovative ideas to flourish and in turn, presents insights which are only made possible through that diversity. It is of little coincidence that these two capabilities – leveraging data for decisions and maintaining a diverse workforce – both occur for high-performing organizations,” said Scott Russell, president and managing director, SAP Southeast Asia.

The Leaders 2020 research findings for Southeast Asia revealed at SuccessConnect 2016, the premier conference held by SAP SuccessFactors for HR and C-suite executives in Singapore, shows that it pays to be a Digital Leader. Seventy-six percent of executives characterized as Digital Leaders report strong revenue and profit growth, compared to 60% of all other Southeast Asian executives.

Effective digital leadership drives more than financial performance—it also creates healthier cultures. Eighty-seven percent of Digital Leaders have employees who are more satisfied, compared with just 51% for respondents in Southeast Asia. Seventy-five percent of Digital Leaders also have employees who are more likely to stay in their jobs if given the chance to leave, as compared to 45% in the region.