Technology & Innovation

Digitisation has progressed far among businesses in Singapore—but it is proceeding at different speeds, and many organisations are lagging

November 29, 2022


Businesses are embracing digitisation to support their operations and employee engagement, but this is happening at different speeds–the smaller the organisation, the less digitised it is likely to be. This is according to (“Prudential”) to assess how technology supports a business’ internal operations and the role of employers and workplace technology in helping their employees maintain a healthy lifestyle and build financial resilience. 

Eighty-six per cent of respondents working in large firms with 201 or more employees say that their companies are mostly or thoroughly digitised. However, only 30% in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) say the same. 

SMEs need greater support  

The digitisation gap between large and smaller firms has narrowed considerably over the past five years or so. However, the survey conducted by Economist Impact revealed that some significant gaps remain. Many more large enterprises than SMEs have invested in almost every technology capability. For example, 82% of large firms have already invested in AI compared with 60% of SMEs. When it comes to mobile apps, the difference is 74% vs 42%; with blockchain: 76% vs 38%; with data analytics: 70% vs 30%; and with online payments: 70% vs 28%.

“SMEs realise they need to accelerate digitisation, but many bemoan a lack of financial resources and skilled digital talent,” says Tay Ee Learn, chief sector skills officer of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Learning Hub, a social enterprise set up by NTUC.

Many SMEs’ digitisation efforts are also weakened by a failure to support investments in new technologies with proper training of employees in how to use them.

Despite the lag, SMEs are working to make up some ground. Higher percentages of SME respondents say their organisation plans to invest in and develop most of such capabilities in the next two years, with the top three being data analytics, blockchain and product/service personalisation. Strong government support, ensuring that SMEs also have access to resources and advice have helped them to upgrade their digital capabilities, according to business leaders. 

Digitisation should go beyond the workplace 

suggests that many employers in Singapore—though far from all—understand the connection between digitisation in the workplace and how it can enhance the lives of workers. It also shows that some employers are seeing gains from helping employees use digital technology in their personal lives—in stronger talent retention and brand reputation, for example. 

“There is a growing awareness among employers that caring for employees’ personal wellbeing can have a beneficial impact on the performance of the individual and his/her organisation,” says Melissa Kee, chief people officer of Temus, a digital transformation consultancy.

Charles Ross, principal at Economist Impact said: “Our study found that the impact of increasing digitisation in the workplace will resonate positively in employees’ personal lives. At a time when worker well-being is at the fore and the scramble for talent continues, it is important that businesses can see the value in taking a holistic approach to digitisation. We already know from our on Singapore residents that they are harnessing technology to better monitor their health and finances. Businesses should help to continue this effort for their workers.” 

To explore more about the study, go to .


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Alice Tong, Head of Marketing, Content Solutions, Economist Impact



Notes to the editor:

About the study

“Digital for 100: Business, technology and fulfilling lives” is the sixth research study from Prudential’s Ready for 100 series. It is the second of two reports that explores the role that digital tools currently play and will play in how Singapore residents manage their lives in the face of an increasing lifespan. A total of 100 Singapore-based executives were surveyed in June and July 2022 for this study. Of the respondents, 39% perform general management roles, 35% are human resources executives and the remainder hold strategy positions. Half of the respondents’ organisations are small and medium-sized enterprises (employ between 10 and 200 employees) while the other half are large firms (has a workforce of 201 and above). Twenty sectors are represented in the survey, with financial services, professional services and technology providing the largest numbers of respondents. A panel of subject-matter experts was also interviewed for this study. The research was commissioned by Prudential and conducted by Economist Impact.

About Economist Impact 

Economist Impact combines the rigour of a think-tank with the creativity of a media brand to engage a globally influential audience. We believe that evidence-based insights can open debate, broaden perspectives and catalyse progress. The services offered by Economist Impact previously existed within The Economist Group as separate entities, including EIU Thought Leadership, EIU Public Policy, Economist Events and SignalNoise. 

Our track record spans 75 years across 205 countries. Along with creative storytelling, events expertise, design-thinking solutions and market-leading media products, we produce framework design, benchmarking, economic and social impact analysis, forecasting and scenario modelling, making Economist Impact's offering unique in the marketplace. Visit for more information.

About Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd (Prudential Singapore)  

Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd is one of the top life insurance companies in Singapore, serving the financial and protection needs of the country’s citizens for 91 years. The company has an AA- Financial Strength Rating from leading credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s, with S$53.3 billion funds under management as at 31 December 2021. It delivers a suite of well-rounded product offerings in Protection, Savings and Investment through multiple distribution channels including a network of more than 5,000 financial consultants. 


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