digital agility, hr trends

Only 38% of APAC organisations were observed to be in the advanced stages of digital agility, according to a recent study.

In a recent study commissioned by Workday, it was observed that four in 10 organisations in Singapore (37%) are still lagging in digital agility, even despite opportunities to accelerate digital transformation and increase technology adoption during the pandemic. 

The IDC-Workday Digital Agility Index Asia/Pacific 2022 further noted that the top challenges cited by organisations in Singapore in pursuing digital transformation were:

  • the fear of failure
  • cross-departmental collaboration

As a whole, the study highlighted the extent to which Asia Pacific (APAC) organisations have progressed in digital agility since the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking organisations on the Digital Agility Index (DAI).  From their scores, organisations are identified either as "agility leaders" if they are found to be in the agile/integrated stages of digital agility maturity, or "agility followers" if it is determined that they are in the slow/tactical stages.

Excerpts of the study findings are found below:

Singapore drops to second position in APAC

Across the nine APAC markets surveyed, progress in digital agility is uneven.

Looking into each market specifically, organisations in Australia achieved the greatest progress in digital transformation efforts and ranked first this year. With Australia rising up the rank, Singapore dropped to the second position from its first place in 2020.

This was followed by New Zealand, Korea, and Hong Kong taking third, fourth, and fifth place respectively. Taiwan, a new addition to the study, came in sixth, followed by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

From a regional perspective, only 38% of APAC organisations were observed to be in the advanced stages of digital agility. Still, progress is being made overall as this figure reflects an 18 percentage-point increase when compared to 2020.

For the 62% of organisations in APAC lagging in digital agility (i.e., agility followers), technology adoption is often driven by functional requirements and business needs such as e-commerce, safety measures, and remote work during the pandemic.

Organisations in Singapore are lacking data-driven insights

Zooming into the Singapore-specific findings, the report looked into the technology and data organisations have on-hand to drive the business.

In Singapore, it was found that only 36% of organisations surveyed are supported by an integrated HR and finance platform with predictive analytics, suggesting that more organisations could leverage technology to gain data-driven insights which would contribute to greater digital agility.

Among the IT leaders involved in the survey, close to six in 10 (57%) said they face challenges in choosing the right technology solutions that can help drive business growth. Additionally, among finance leaders, only 37% said their organisations ensure resiliency by using automated detection of financial disruption based on predictive capabilities.

Next, the report also noted that there are also opportunities for organisations in Singapore to pursue digital transformation
more holistically to bring about better outcomes, including in attracting and retaining talent.

Per the findings, close to eight in 10 (77%) HR leaders in the country admitted that they face challenges in delivering high HR service standards amidst times of rapid change. Further, 83% lack a holistic talent strategy supported by data analytics to identify training needs, growth areas, and drive employee engagement. In fact, only a third of organisations (32%) surveyed in Singapore have enterprise talent systems and policies to maximise talent attraction and retention.

As the study pointed out, this is a critical area that requires attention as it enables organisations to "successfully execute digital initiatives and become more agile in capturing new opportunities".

It's time for CFOs, CHROs, and CIOs to forge closer collaborations

Looking at the bigger picture, there is a need for greater collaboration between chief human resources officers (CHROs), chief financial officers (CFOs), and chief information officers (CIOs), in order to drive enterprise agility in the post-pandemic era, the study affirmed. In the new norm led by a digital-first economy, leveraging digital agility can offer competitive advantages, it added.

However, this is only possible if organisations rethink their approach to closing digital agility gaps through technology and alignment of functional business requirements across the C-suite.

Not only must organisations accelerate their digital transformation to narrow the agility gaps for positive business outcomes, but teams must also have an integrated approach as a strategic imperative.

Thus, the need for CHROs, CFOs, and CIOs to partner on cross-functional digital transformation initiatives, and integrate digital talent management, HR, and finance processes.

Concluding, Sandeep Sharma, President for Asia, Workday commented: “While there is considerable progress with more organisations making the leap to become agility leaders, the fact that the majority of organisations within Asia Pacific are still lagging creates an opportunity to help organisations digitally accelerate. 

“With agility now a key source of competitive advantage in today’s digital-first economy, organisations supported by data-driven processes and imbued with digital skills and work cultures are best positioned to thrive in today’s changing world.”


This global study was commissioned by Workday and conducted by IDC between December 2021 and February 2022. Over 800 senior HR, IT, and Finance leaders from across nine markets and 15 sectors in Asia Pacific were surveyed.

In addition, their organisations were assessed based on four Digital Agility Dimensions, namely, organisation and culture, people, processes, and technology.


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