Large gains expected from AI and cloud-enabled MSMEs addressing social challenges

Photo by Philipp Birmes

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has released a new report revealing that micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that embrace cloud-enabled technologies in Singapore are expected to unlock up to S$650 million in annual productivity gains and support 100,000 jobs across the healthcare and education sectors by 2030.

AWS commissioned the “Realising a Cloud-enabled Economy: How Cloud Drives Economic and Societal Impact Through Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Businesses” reportto examine the potential benefits of moving to the cloud for MSMEs (defined as businesses with fewer than 250 employees) that focus on addressing societal issues.

Conducted by global professional services firm, Accenture, the report uses the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s definition of cloud adoption levels to forecast a cloud-enabled economy in 2030, where 90% of all businesses adopt at least a basic level of cloud technology.

The report reveals that Singapore’s current rate of at least basic cloud adoption such as the use of web-based email services or cloud-based storage solutions is at 64%. However, the adoption rate of intermediate applications like the use of customer relationship management or enterprise resource planning tools, and advanced applications such as the use of artificial intelligence (AI), including generative AI, and machine learning (ML) tailored for sophisticated tasks including fraud detection or supply chain forecasting is expected to be far lower based on data from other developed countries in the OECD.

For example, across the OECD developed nations, the OECD reports overall adoption at 44%, while intermediate and advanced adoption is at 19% and 13% respectively. There is still a huge opportunity for businesses in Singapore to advance cloud adoption, in order to fully realise the potential of cloud technologies.

The “Realising a Cloud-enabled Economy: How Cloud Drives Economic and Societal Impact Through Micro, Small, And Medium-Sized Businesses” report covers 12 countries, including Singapore, and uses market sizing, responses from quantitative surveys, and a combination of publicly available datasets from the OECD, the World Bank, the Conference Board Total Economy Database.

Economic and societal impact of Cloud-enabled MSMEs

The report reveals that by moving to the cloud, MSMEs can deliver tangible benefits to the economy and society. The cloud can facilitate remote medical consultations, improve access to education, and more, which contribute to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

In the healthcare sector, cloud-enabled MSMEs help with addressing the challenge of limited access to healthcare faced by underserved communities. The report estimates cloud-enabled MSMEs can help unlock S$290 million in annual productivity benefits in healthcare and support six million telehealth consultations in Singapore by 2030, a 100% increase on the current usage rate.

In the education sector, cloud-enabled MSMEs help with addressing the challenge of accessibility and inclusivity of education through digital platforms. The report estimates these MSMEs can help unlock S$360 million in annual productivity benefits in education and provide 200,000 students in Singapore with e-learning solutions by 2030, which is 100% more than the current usage rate. The report highlights approximately one million adults are expected to access education via cloud-enabled MSMEs in Singapore by 2030.

Closer collaboration to realise the cloud’s potential

Cybersecurity challenges, organisational culture, lack of access to information technology (IT) infrastructure (software and hardware) and digital skills are the primary barriers to cloud adoption among MSMEs.

To help MSMEs accelerate cloud adoption, the report outlines five key recommendations: 1) Identify how the cloud can streamline strategic business needs, 2) evaluate industry and government support, 3) upskill and educate employees in cloud, 4) review data and security policies, and 5) create a whole-of-business cloud migration strategy.

“While there are significant benefits that are unlocked by micro, small, and medium businesses adopting at least a basic level of cloud technology, there is still a huge opportunity for them to further advance their cloud adoption as this will accelerate their ability to address some of the biggest challenges in society,” said Aaron Hill, Managing Director of Economic Insights, Accenture Strategy and Consulting.

“With more support from governments and the industry, these businesses will have greater ability to harness the power of transformative technologies such as generative AI to unleash even more innovation, drive economic productivity, and deliver meaningful change to society.”

“Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises are often the unsung heroes of innovation, but they play a crucial role in addressing challenges in society such as by improving access to digital healthcare and education services,” said Elsie Tan, Singapore Country Manager, Worldwide Public Sector, AWS.