Covid-19 spurs 75% of S'pore firms to speed up digital push

The Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped mixed martial arts promotion One Championship from holding large-scale fights, but the company has figured out how the show can go on – digitally.

Besides live-streaming fights so that fans can tune in from wherever they are, the Singapore-based firm is working on taking the digital experience to the next level by offering data-driven insights for viewers as they stream live shows.

For example, statistics could be displayed on-screen in real time showing the speed of a particular punch or kick.

The company is also exploring the possibility of other cutting-edge concepts, such as the use of holographic computing to help athletes visualise fights so as to prevent injuries during training.

These are just some of the benefits of digitalisation for One Championship to make its offerings more immersive in response to the coronavirus, which has halted live sporting events with spectator crowds.

One Championship is among nearly three-quarters of Singapore’s organisations that are accelerating their pace of digitalisation due to the pandemic, according to new survey results jointly released yesterday by tech giant Microsoft and market research firm IDC Asia-Pacific.

Conducted in two phases – first in December last year and January this year (“pre-Covid”), and then again in July (“since Covid”) – the study surveyed 202 business decision-makers and 219 workers in Singapore.

Respondents were from various sectors, including healthcare, manufacturing, banking and retail.

Microsoft Singapore managing director Kevin Wo told The Straits Times: “With the pandemic and the economic crisis it has brought, all of us are experiencing new challenges and changes at a speed and scale that we’ve not had to address before.”

About 80 per cent of the firms surveyed in July said that innovation is critical to strategy success, up from the 67 per cent in phase one.

“Innovation is no longer an option, but essential to survival and success,” said Mr Wo.

The report said that being forced to innovate quickly amid the pandemic has made firms realise that it was not as challenging as they had expected.

More than half of the companies said in July that they found it easier to drive innovation, up from the 31 per cent before Covid-19 hit.

Some of the factors cited as major innovation blockers before the outbreak were culture, innovation mindset and fear of failure.

Mr Wo said: “Organisations had to switch to digital as the pandemic provided a strong impetus for them to act immediately, so whatever barriers they had previously had to be removed. Pre-Covid, organisations in Singapore always had digital on their agenda, but their approach to innovation was more of an evolved journey – experimenting and adjusting along the way.”

The study also introduced the Culture of Innovation Framework, which assesses a company’s approach to innovation by looking at people, process, data and technology.

In general, Singapore firms scored the lowest in the people category, which looks at indicators such as skilling initiatives and having a diverse workforce.

Mr Wo said: “The reality is that technology on its own will not make a difference – it is people who will allow organisations to innovate and transform.

“Companies must not only invest in technology, but also invest in human capital so as to cultivate a workplace culture that encourages innovation and embraces digitalisation.”

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