Why Singaporean SMEs are ahead of the USA in tech adoption

WLP Group

In November 2021, Xero published an article stating that Singaporean SMEs were leading tech adoption in the UK and US. A study was conducted by Xero whereby SME owners from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA, the UK and Canada were interviewed. Singaporean SME owners were found to be most likely to embrace new innovative technology and try out new business software to improve their operations.

More importantly, Singaporean SME owners were also found to be more willing to understand new technologies including blockchain and cloud accounting software. Part of this is thanks to the Singaporean government that supports Singaporeans to retrain with its SkillsFuture programme.

In addition, entrepreneurs in Singapore are probably likely to adopt new technology due to government funding. For example, Enterprise SG launched the PSG Grant which subsidised local SMEs to adopt business softwares including Xero & Quickbooks (though Xero is better than Quickbooks as we’ve written about before) for their accounting needs. The goal of such grants and subsidies is to introduce Singaporean entrepreneurs to new technologies to remain competitive with larger multinationals with larger budgets. Furthermore, the sooner SMEs switch over to newer technologies, the sooner their business will be more efficient.

Another factor that might contribute to Singaporean entrepreneurs’ willingness to adopt new technologies is the love for their work. Xero found that more than 5 in 10 Singaporean SME owners “live to work”. This is the highest found among the 6 countries. This means that many Singaporeans see technology as a requirement to be successful in their respective industries and their work (and by extension their life).

The Singaporean government also celebrates small businesses that adapt to technological change and local media companies such as The Straits Times often feature old businesses that have revamped their operations to the 21st century.

I’m a Singaporean SME owner but am afraid to adopt new business software. What can I do about this?

We understand. Change is difficult and especially so when it comes to your business and livelihood. In addition, the new terms that pop up every other month or so such as “Blockchain”, “Neural Networks” and “AI” don’t help. Besides, who has the time to learn all this?

Unfortunately, the only way to feel confident to adapt to technological change is to become technological savvy yourself. This means that you’ll have to learn programming.

It’s important to understand that this can’t be outsourced. You can’t hire a developer or digital agency to take this responsibility off your shoulders. If you’re leading the time and giving orders, you have to understand what’s at stake. This means that you’ll have to go about learning programming.

A good way to start is to take advantage of the Singapore government’s SkillsFuture programme that provides subsidies for Singaporeans to retrain and learn new skills like Python and JavaScript. In fact, you can take a beginners accounting course too and learn a thing or two about Xero! (They’re the company that held this study.) And if you do take the time to learn about Xero accounting, you’ll also be better prepared to talk with our accountants and better understand your financial statements.