Asia Insight Studies Finance Transformation in India and Singapore

Asia Insight Studies Finance Transformation in India and Singapore

Asia Insight, an award-winning market research firm in Singapore, was commissioned by SAP Concur to survey Asia Pacific (APAC) with 2,012 respondents who are finance and expense users to assess today’s finance and administrative processes and expectations.

Entitled “Finance in the New World of Work”, the SAP Concur commissioned whitepaper is designed to equip finance and HR leaders with new knowledge as the impact of COVID in businesses unfold. 12 APAC countries were surveyed including Singapore, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines, to evaluate employee expectations and identify gaps in organisations’ expense management, business travel, and remote work processes.

Though many organisations have already established some semblance of normalcy, structure, and functionality from remote working, the finance and administrative processes remain challenged in terms of digitalisation. 

The study conducted by Asia Insight showed that across the region, 38% of respondents said they still submit expenses manually and 49% revealed they are less than satisfied with their organisation’s expense claim process. The study revealed the potential economic backlash of inefficient finance and administrative processes across the Asia Pacific that could amount to a whopping US$21.5 billion.

In this article, we look into the two countries surveyed, India and Singapore, and delve into how organisations in these countries have embraced finance transformation through the past months.

How’s India in the New Era

In the survey, 69% of Indian employees expressed that remote working have increased their productivity, the highest in the region in comparison to Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. Though the country’s response to remote working is a positive indicator of large-scale acceptance of the new work standards, the finance and administrative departments of organisations in India are lagging in terms of transitioning to and adopting digital processes.

The whitepaper showed that only 11% of Indian organisations have implemented end-to-end digital finance and administrative processes despite the need to eliminate the tedious manual processes. 36 % of mid-large sized companies are still using manual processes for submitting business expenses.

Using the International Labour Organization (ILO) statistics on output per worker and the number of information workers as well as the study’s results, Asia Insight derived that saving 10% of the time spent on filing and approving claims would translate to US$2.25 billion of potential GDP revenue gain for India each year. For mid to large-sized organisations, tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved over the same period. This is under the assumption that all the lost hours are diverted to productive work.

Mankiran Chowhan, Managing Director – Indian Subcontinent, SAP Concur, shared his insights on the study. He said:

“2020 is proving to be a turning point for companies in terms of managing employee experience and productivity. While employees working remotely are being supported digitally in many areas, there still exists a major gap in digital adoption for crucial yet often overlooked finance and administrative processes.”

“Owing to this, employees have to devote significant time for menial tasks that could otherwise be used for productive, business value-added work. Bringing in digital transformation for expense claims or invoice processing can have a huge multiplier effect on business and cost control and at the same time provide the operational agility needed for business continuity,” he stressed.

The study also revealed the inadequate support for modern payment methods in Indian organisations wherein 39% of respondents expressed they want their expense management software to integrate with external apps to enable added functionality like reimbursement of payments made through super apps (umbrella apps containing other apps). A staggering 79% of Indian employees strongly link their overall finance and administrative experience with their overall satisfaction of working for their organisations.

Have Singapore Adopted Digital Finance

Over in city-state Singapore, the organisations’ finance department reflects much like India’s during this pandemic.

The SAP Concur commissioned study has revealed that Singaporean businesses are losing US$340 million (S$473 million) annually to inefficiencies and manual processes despite the widespread adoption of remote working and digital transformation.

In the survey, 33% of local employees stated that they still submit expenses manually by filling out a form and enclosing physical receipts. 50% of Singaporean respondents expressed their discontent with their organisation’s expense claims processes. 38% shared their desire for their company’s expense management software to integrate with external applications and support more functionalities.

61% of employees strongly link their overall finance and administrative experience with the satisfaction of working for their organisations. The report stated that with this data, Singaporean companies might be at risk of losing talent if they fail to adopt digital platforms and technology to modernise their finance and administrative processes.

Now that we are on the second leg of 2020, finance and HR leaders in APAC may utilise the powerful data from this recent SAP Concur report as they further draw their strategies on finance to end the year strong.

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