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Around 57% of HK SMEs have accelerated digitalisation efforts: survey

Hong Kong – Around 57% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong have reported that they have accelerated their digitalisation efforts for the past 12 months, new survey from insurance company QBE shows.

According to the survey, 21% of the respondents say that growing sales amid reduced consumer spending became a key priority for SME digitalisation, followed by customer acquisition and retention (18%). In addition, SMEs are concerned about staff acquisition, training and retention, as well as logistical and export-import issues, reflecting that maintaining sales performance and ensuring business continuity are critical.

The survey also noted that 88% of the respondents said they currently use digital technologies or intend to invest in them, continuing the upward trend seen in 2020 (75%) and 2019 (73%). 

At present, the three top investment areas are collaborative software for staff (40%), marketing through social or online media (40%) and e-commerce (38%).

Despite the strong outlook, SMEs cited greater competition, data security threats and rising customer expectations as the main challenges for e-commerce. As a result, there is a surge in cyber risk awareness among SMEs, which jumped to 43% from 24% in 2020. SMEs took protection against cyber risk in several different forms, including software solutions and staff training, but particularly, 39% used insurance as a form of protection.

Lei Yu, CEO for North Asia and regional head of distribution at QBE Asia, said that the survey provided useful insights on the challenges that SMEs in Hong Kong are facing, and showed that SMEs are catching up quickly in utilising digital technologies to help achieve their evolving business goals.

“Our annual survey shows that awareness of and appetite for insurance keeps changing, however the underlying trend of insurance and risk management awareness is upwards. This is important because it is in everyone’s interests for them to be adequately protected. SMEs need flexible insurance products that allow them to choose insurance types and coverage according to their own needs,” Yu said.