The impacts of COVID-19 have accelerated the digitisation of 69 per cent of APAC organisations, according to a survey of IT decision makers, with the results suggesting  Australia is now the fourth most digitally mature country in the region.

At the beginning of the year a Cisco commissioned IDC to survey more than 1400 APAC SMBs on their digital maturity, updating the study in May to assess the impact of COVID-19.

At the beginning of 2020 APAC SMBs were prioritising cloud, security, and infrastructure hardware. By May cloud remained the top priority but customer experience and videoconferencing had displaced security and infrastructure, according to the IDC-Cisco 2020 Asia Pacific SMB Digital Maturity Study.

The pandemic has driven the region to an “inflection point” of digital transformation, according to the study, but the vast majority of SMBs report they are struggling on the journey and no country has progressed past a “digital observer” phase.

Source: IDC-Cisco 2020 Asia Pacific SMB Digital Maturity Study.

Digital ‘observers’

The observer phase, according to IDC, means the business has made some investments in digital but they are mostly tactical and have limited use in day to day operations. Observers typically struggle to acquire digital skills and demonstrate risk averse leadership.

Australia, like most APAC nations, is one of the “digital observers” according to the report, and trails Singapore, Japan and New Zealand in maturity rankings. But Australia is ahead of most regional neighbours including China, Korea and India.

According to the study, Australia is largely in line with regional trends on technology investments and challenges, prioritising cloud, hardware and security while struggling with a lack of talent and enabling technologies. 

Digitisation priorities in Australia are centred on improving customer experience, financial viability and predictability, and boosting operations or service delivery. The regional average priorities, however, are market growth, customer experience, and products and services.

The IDC study says Australia’s digital maturity has not changed considerably since last year but still ranks fourth in the region.

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