A slim majority of digital-savvy Singaporeans see their country as a more digitally advanced nation relative to other leading developed countries, but they are also looking to the government to regulate emerging digital social issues, particularly privacy and security.
That’s according to a new report from EY that surveyed 1,000 digitally active consumers in Singapore, which found that 52% of respondents think Singapore is a head of the game in terms of digital development. Also, 59% agree that the government is effectively leveraging technology to improve public services.
That said, concerns remain around privacy, security and affordability, the survey found. Privacy is one of the dominant concerns: a vast 81% of the respondents worry about how organizations collect, store and use data about them, and 75% want the government to impress greater controls and transparency. While Singaporeans are largely aligned on the government’s role in regulating organizations, personal privacy is a more polarizing issue. 43% of the respondents call for the government to take a more active role in monitoring online activity but 20% disagree.
For some, affordability is an issue. Internet speed and access was judged fairly well by the majority (55%) but affordability for mobile data and fixed internet access was considered unreasonable by 44% and 34% of the respondents respectively. Further, 23% think they already spend too much on digital.
“The Singapore government has been proactively engaging digital technology to better serve the public. While the population holds a positive view of how they are being ‘governed’ in a digital age, there are still challenges to address and high expectations to be met around affordability, privacy, information usage, transaction security and digital content,” commented Jonathan Rees, EY Asean Advisory Digital Leader. “With high levels of connectivity and concentration of data centers, Singapore must also be extra vigilant of the cyber risk environment. The outlook for Singapore as a Smart Nation is positive, but there is no room for complacency given how digitally well-informed and demanding the population is.”
The survey also shows that Singapore has a highly device-centric population. Well over three-quarters of respondents check their device upon waking up, to the point where 26% of respondents’ mobile phone usage exceeds five hours daily. They use their phones or tablets everywhere – especially in public places (68%), and for everything – from social networking (98%) to online research (81%) on a daily basis.
They also express an appetite for and acceptance of new digital experiences, including using modern payment methods such as mobile phone tap payments (29%), choosing music streaming over traditional music channels (86% versus 68%), and an interest to purchase from more online retailers (55%).
Around half of the respondents expect a high-quality digital experience as an entry to purchase (54%) and judge a company by their online presence (43%). With 83% of respondents saying they discover new products and services through online research and almost half (49%) conducting digital research while in store, retailers need to be discoverable through search engine optimization. An overwhelming 88% of the respondents expect websites to be mobile-optimized for viewing and many expect to enjoy the same experience both online and offline.
Rees observed that this indicates how much the playing field for retailers has changed. “Digital experiences are not just about online shopping and e-commerce. For many, the physical shopping journey is becoming a more digitally integrated one. For Singapore retailers, there is a significant opportunity in merging the brick-and-mortar store with digital experiences for a seamless, omni-channel service delivery.”
Rees added that governments and enterprises will need to respond to the relentless pace of digital advances by meeting the challenges of leading smart transformations to co-create better digital experiences. “The service conundrum and opportunity confronting them lie in ensuring consumer privacy and transaction security while delivering high-quality personalized experiences.”
What is certain, Rees continues, is that “going digital is no longer a ‘wait-and-see’ but a ‘catch-and-act-now’ imperative. Organizations must be ready to reset their customer strategies if they want to successfully capitalize on the growth potential of the digital economy.”
The full report is available here.