According to a new survey commissioned by leading printing solutions provider Epson, more than eight out of 10 (86%) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines identified digital technology adoption as the way to improve business processes, especially customer experience. SMEs in the country shared this belief more than other respondents in the region, second only to Indonesia. Across the region, over half of respondents (55%) reported being at the very early stages of digital transformation.
The survey titled, “SMEs striving for Digital Transformation amidst many hurdles,” captured the perspectives of more than 800 SME decision-makers in the six largest Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries by GDP, including 154 respondents in the Philippines. It captured respondents’ perspectives on technology adoption, the maturity stage of digital transformation efforts and the challenges facing these businesses.
“This survey highlights the tremendous interest that SMEs in the Philippines have in using technology to improve business functions, especially in areas impacting the customer,” said Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines General Manager for Marketing. “Although SMEs in the country have generally begun to adopt digital technologies, more work is needed to help and encourage these companies to extend digital technologies further beyond customer-facing areas of the business.”
Transformation initiatives focused on the customer
Nearly three quarters (74%) of Filipino respondents have embarked on the digital transformation journey and have mainly focused these efforts in the marketing and sales as well as customer interaction and servicing portions of their businesses.
In the retail sector specifically, 31 percent of Filipino SMEs in the retail, food and beverage (F&B) and hospitality sectors have deployed mobile projectors over interactive models, which can be used in malls and other environments to attract and deliver a superior customer experience.
SMEs in the Philippines are also moving closer to tracking and making decisions based on information available in real time. More than half (56%) of respondents reported being able to do this in the Philippines while another 51 percent noted that their organisation can make quick decisions across departments and business processes on most occasions – outpacing their regional counterparts.
Impediments to technology deployment
Despite this enthusiasm for digital transformation, respondents in the Philippines across industry sectors agreed that the upfront cost of new tools and technology, and the perception that replacing old processes and systems would be too difficult, were barriers to adopting new technologies.
Overall, respondents indicated a preference for products that were more reliable, performed at a consistently high quality and connected seamlessly with back-end systems. However, about three out of four Filipino respondents (76%) also considered the environment when making printer purchases. This consideration was higher than the regional average of 69 percent.
“In order for digital transformation to reach maturity in the Philippines, SMEs need greater awareness of the total cost of ownership beyond the initial investment,” Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines General Manager for Marketing. “With access to information and industry support, SMEs can overcome the perception that deploying new technology is beyond them.”
Environment to play a big part in technology adoption
It is also notable that Filipino SMEs are sensitive to environmental issues. When choosing a printing solution, over two thirds (76%) consider the impact on the environment, and 78 percent are mindful of the effect of heat and dust particles on the health of their staff.
“We are committed to sustainability and showcasing innovations that help customers reduce their impact on the environment, such as heat-free printing solutions, and support SMEs with solutions that meet their business and productivity needs,” Eduardo Bonoan, Epson Philippines General Manager for Marketing.
Fostering digital transformation today requires more than the adoption of new technologies. It means creating environments where businesses can leverage innovation to deliver meaningful change that drives positive business outcomes. With SMEs at the heart of the economy, they need to be empowered with the right tools to tackle the next steps towards being a sustainable business.”