Throughout the Asian business ecosystem, organisations have been shown to believe that the strongest opportunities for future growth lie in technology, sustainability and developing talent to harness digital advancement. This is according to a new global survey by HSBC.

Navigator: Made for the Future” surveyed more than 2500 companies across 14 markets globally, including over 1300 firms from seven major economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the survey, technology and it’s rapid advancements are shown to be the main driving factor causing structural shifts within organisations’ workforce throughout Asia. Companies have two primary objectives for technology: Driving customer-centricity and upskilling their people.

With more and more businesses shifting focus to become more customer-centric, more than three in four Asian businesses (78 per cent) believe the integration of new technologies will help their people better understand customer needs.

Digital transformation is also impacting the skills people need to compete in the future.

Asian companies have been seen investing more in talent that includes sustainable business practices (17 per cent), digital marketing skills (21 per cent), and systems-design thinking (18 per cent), which is so far more in line with peers in North America and Europe.

“A business is only as strong as its people. As technology evolves, the time is now for organisations to equip their people with technology-led training so they can advance in lockstep,” said Stuart Tait, regional head of commercial banking, Asia-Pacific, HSBC.

“Businesses are putting their people at the heart of what they do. It’s clear Asian companies see upskilling and technology as the key to ‘future proofing’ their business, strategy and people,” he added.

A total of 43 per cent of companies in Asia are citing innovation as fundamental to future success, compared to companies in Europe (42 per cent) and North America (29 per cent).

The majority of markets in Asia cited innovation as their top investment priority, focusing on two pillars, people and platforms, both largely in line with global findings.

“With rising urbanisation, a growing middle class as well as upbeat intra-Asia investment and trade activity, businesses are seeing more opportunities than threats on the horizon,” Tait said.

“Asian businesses are attuned to disruption, and recognise that productivity and new technologies are critical to prosperity and longevity.”

Approximately 44 per cent of Asian businesses expect themselves to grow by three to five per cent over the next two years, revealing a much more optimistic outlook that their European (32 per cent) and North American peers. To help drive this growth, Asian companies are looking to methods that focus on environmental sustainability and social responsibility opportunities.

The findings also reveal a rather sharp contrast among Asian businesses’ disposition towards sustainability compared to companies in Europe (39 per cent) and North America (45 per cent). Of the Asian markets surveyed, businesses in India (59 per cent), Indonesia (57 per cent) and mainland China (60 per cent) are leading the pack. It is possible that Asian economies are more interested in sustainable business practices due to the larger portion of manufacturing which occurs in the region.

“To be ‘Made for the Future’, businesses are doubling down on sustainability, with 50 per cent of companies planning to increase their sustainability investments,” Tait said.