SINGAPORE - Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not realise they can boost productivity through "soft" innovation and branding, a study has found.
"Soft" innovation refers to innovation in non-technological areas such as marketing, management and organisational culture.
The survey was jointly done by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), covering 521 firms in various industries.
Its findings were released last Monday at a corporate branding seminar conducted in Mandarin by Dr Frank Chen, a visiting professor at NTU.
Dr Chen is also chief executive of the China chapter of Interbrand, a global branding consultancy, and has worked with companies such as Huawei and Legend, now known as Lenovo.
About 100 company representatives attended the seminar at the NTU@one-north campus.
The survey found that more than nine out of 10 SME bosses thought innovation was an effective way to raise productivity.
But fewer than half said they actually applied innovative measures in their business operations, the study found.
The respondents were most aware of innovation in technology and marketing, and least knowledgeable about innovation in business models, enterprise management and organisational culture.
The study also found that SME bosses tended to be reluctant to seek outside help, with below 30 per cent of them saying they had sought advice from external consultants on using innovation to boost productivity.
Half of the companies had applied for government assistance schemes before, but 44 per cent of those who had applied said they encountered difficulties and most of those cited excessive documentation as the major obstacle.
Of the other half that had not applied for government assistance, 62 per cent said it was due to a lack of awareness and inability to find a suitable scheme.
The joint study, conducted from May to July this year was supported by Spring and IE Singapore.
•Nine out of 10 SME bosses thought innovation was an effective way to raise productivity.
•Fewer than half actually applied innovative measures in their business operations.
•Below 30 per cent of them had sought advice from external consultants on using innovation to boost productivity.