Survey Identifies Four Big Growth Opportunities for Small Businesses in Asia-Pacific

Posted by Natalie Forsyth, Senior Director for Marketing, APAC, NetSuite

Small businesses are a major economic growth engine in Asia-Pacific, often driving more than 50 percent of a nation’s economic output, according to the research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. Small businesses are particularly vital in such countries as Singapore and the Philippines, where they sustain up to 70 percent of total employment.

Free trade and growth incentives across Asia-Pacific are opening new opportunities for small businesses. Yet reliance on spreadsheets and outdated in-house IT systems at many small companies (typically fewer than 500 employees) limit their growth potential, a new Frost & Sullivan study found.

Frost & Sullivan surveyed 363 small business executives in Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore and identified the following prime opportunities for growth, improving on processes that are often slow, piecemeal and marginally effective:

  • Closer customer relationships: 29%
  • New products/services: 27%
  • New sales channels: 17%
  • New overseas markets: 13%

For many of these companies, cloud computing is a competitive catalyst that can foster innovation and growth, Frost & Sullivan said in the report, “Born in the Cloud: Four Big Growth Opportunities for Small Businesses in Asia-Pacific.”

“Cloud computing provides small businesses with low-cost, flexible and highly scalable IT solutions that support growth,” the study said. “Cloud removes the barriers to innovation by enabling small businesses to develop and deliver new products and services, enter new markets and adapt to changing circumstances more efficiently than with non-cloud platforms.”

‘Born in the Cloud’

Notably, Frost & Sullivan reports that a majority of Asia-Pacific startups today are “born in the cloud” — that is, they utilise the cloud for ERP, CRM and other processes from day one. Most of those startups are also “born global,” targeting international markets from day one.

For instance, 57 percent of small businesses in Asia-Pacific running cloud solutions have entered new overseas markets in the past five years, compared to just 18 percent of non-cloud companies. Nearly 70 percent of small businesses planning to enter new markets in the next five years are cloud-based, versus just 17 percent for non-cloud users.

Greater agility for international expansion is just one of the benefits that small businesses perceive in cloud solutions. In the Frost & Sullivan survey, respondents identified other benefits as lower operating costs (27 percent), greater customer responsiveness (21 percent) and faster introduction of new products or services (13 percent).

In addition, cloud solutions are instrumental in equipping small businesses to grow digital channels for sales and customer interaction, including ecommerce websites, Frost & Sullivan notes. Overall, 36 percent of small Asia-Pacific companies say that digital channels have a “significant” effect on their business, while 37 percent believe they have “some” impact.

Frost & Sullivan’s study aligns with NetSuite’s view on the cloud’s role in driving growth among small businesses in Asia-Pacific. NetSuite is the platform of choice for hundreds of Asia-Pacific businesses, both as a platform for startups and as a replacement for inflexible, costly on-premise systems. Companies such as Jollibee Foods, CELL Bikes, Billabong, Lonely Planet and others rely on NetSuite to help drive innovation and growth.

Download the full Frost & Sullivan study.

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