CHECKING our smartphones first thing in the morning has become a habit for many of us.
This simple action shows how the digital era has changed the very fabric of society and the way we live, and businesses are no exception.
Pointing this out, Eco World Development Group Bhd president and chief executive officer Datuk Chang Khim Wah got participants thinking at the Star SMEBiz Think Tank when he delivered his keynote address about value creation in the digital age.
Praveen advised companies to evaluate how going digital applies to their nature of business.
He spoke on how the brick-and-mortar business was being transformed by technology, and highlighted the methods EcoWorld uses to connect with stakeholders.
“EcoWorld is only about four years old, and we already have multiple projects. We have scaled up by using technology and going digital.
“This has helped us to connect better with our customers, consultants, contractors and suppliers, as well as employees, shareholders, investors and bankers, including the community and public,” he shared.
Chang said their social media platform reached many netizens, which is where the bulk of their new buyers come from.
“When we first started, we knew we wanted to scale up fast, and in order to do so, we needed to capture new markets from the Gen Y and Gen Z segment.
“Digital is the way to go forward and we are going to grow it with the right content,” said Chang.
He explained that with digital solutions, there were a lot of efficiency gains, including improving communication, processes and decision-making.
Even within the communities they develop, smart homes and cloud solutions enhance residents’ lifestyles.
“The speed of business is everything; it is all about our customers and how far and fast you can reach them,” said Chang, adding that innovation is one of EcoWorld’s key priorities which gives them the competitive edge.
Chang spoke about going digital as key to the developer’s expansion.
“But we should not forget to nurture and care for relationships with stakeholders – this will bring us through the Fourth Industrial Revolution safely,” he said.
Offering another point of view, Etika Sdn Bhd marketing vice-president Santharuban Thurai Sundaram said while the digital medium had become huge in recent times, print still has its merits.
“We shouldn’t treat traditional and digital media separately; in fact, we use traditional media to drive digital engagement,” he said.
The company has rolled out multiple successful marketing campaigns that used both digital and print mediums to drive engagement.
“Traditional media is only traditional when used traditionally,” added Santharuban.
It was a full house at the Star SMEBiz Think Tank held at Eastin Hotel, Petaling Jaya. The event was an extension of the Star Outstanding Business Awards 2017.
Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) marketing and sales senior vice-president Wong Keet Loong spoke about how SMEs could move up their value chain by focusing on a few key aspects.
“Whatever we do, we must think of profitability, which is either increasing sales or reducing cost.
“You need to integrate your sales channel (omnichannel marketing) and find new ones to increase sales,” he said.
While sales channels are important, Wong said product ranges are also crucial.
Participants did not forget to use their digital devices to take down information on digital disruption from the presentations.
“You want as many products as possible to be sold to the same customers, but you must also take into account cost management through automation, shared services and lower overhead costs,” he said.
One of the event participants, Global Coffee Resources Sdn Bhd general manager Jasen Lee, said Chang’s session sparked an important thought about finding a new market.
“We really need to think outside the box to capture new markets; it’s not only about correctly identifying one, you must have a very innovative marketing strategy,” he said.
Lee, who is in the food and beverage business, said EcoWorld’s focus on the Gen Y and Gen Z market segment was also a significant point.
“This is something I have overlooked. From my perspective, my concern is the way people consume things now is different.
(From left) Goh presenting a token of appreciation to Yap as AmBank Group corporate communications and marketing head Syed Anuar Syed Ali looks on.
“We really need to delve deeper into behaviours and lifestyle preferences of these markets,” Lee said.
Another participant, Martin D’Silva, said he took part in the event to understand the challenges faced by SMEs from a digital perspective.
“The entire world talks about going digital, and it is intimidating. So, you have to upgrade yourself or get left out.
“Etika’s Santharuban raised a good point on how it is not necessarily all about digital, but how to smartly use traditional mediums to get digital exposure while also getting mileage from traditional space,” said D’Silva, who is in the communication business.
Each session at the Star SMEBiz Think Tank event was followed by a Q&A, allowing participants to interact with speakers.
Malaysian Advertisers Association president Margaret Au-Yong said the event was a good learning experience for business owners.
“I always encourage SMEs to learn from the big boys and vice versa; many similar events have panels with a few speakers but they don’t have a lot of time to speak.
“Here, the speakers have individual sessions so they were able to flesh out the points.
“It would also be good for The Star to continue working with other associations so that more people can share their stories and inspire SMEs,” she noted.
Gigagigs chairman Khoo Kar Khoon said he walked away feeling motivated after the session by Mega Fortris (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Adrian Ng, who spoke on the company’s journey as a tamper-evident and security seals solution company.
Star Media Group Bhd chief revenue officer Lim Bee Leng (left) handing over a memento to Sharimahton (centre). With them is Matrade corporate communications senior manager Zuhaila Akmar Mohd Sedek.
“This is the first time I’ve been exposed to a company which has achieved its vision to take on the world’s market, but was so humble about its accomplishments.
“They believe in transparency, trust and humanity, and today, their brand has an impact both locally and globally.
“This is a very inspiring story for Malaysian companies,” said Khoo.
The Star editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh (left) presenting Ng with a memento at the Star SMEBiz Think Tank.
Other speakers at the event included AmBank business banking managing director Christopher Yap, Human Resource Development Fund (HRDF) chief special purpose vehicle Muhammad Ghazali Abdul Aziz, Digi.com Bhd chief digital officer Praveen Rajan, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) deputy chief executive officer Sharimahton Mat Saleh and Bursa Malaysia Bhd primary market vice-president Hanita Othman.
The Star SMEBiz Think Tank was organised by Star Media Group as an extension of the Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2017.
It was sponsored by AmBank, DiGi and HRDF with CGC as co-sponsor and Matrade as the official trade promotion partner.
Wong talked about how SMEs can move up their value chain by focusing on a few key aspects