SMIs told to form alliances


BY STEPHEN BOEY

MALAYSIAN small- and medium-sized industries (SMIs) should forge alliances among themselves to become more formidable forces and pool resources to avail themselves of the latest in information technology (IT). 

They should be willing to experiment, to break new grounds and to go where others have not gone before, said Dr Michael Loh, e-business on demand evangelist for IBM Asean/South Asia.  

“SMIs need to look beyond their own business processes to see where integration with their suppliers, partners and customers can help meet their business objectives,” he told StarBiz in an interview ahead of the launch by IBM on Sept 16 of business solutions for the SMI sector.  

Dr Michael Loh

“We believe that SMIs need to continue to leverage on IT and transform themselves into “on demand” businesses to stay competitive locally and globally,” added Loh, who is one of the keynote speakers at a seminar, Solutions for SMI Program: Taking SMI/SME to Greater Heights, being held in conjunction with the solutions launch at the J.W. Marriott in Kuala Lumpur. 

“In an on-demand world, businesses are looking for ways to operate in a more responsive, flexible and variable way – to better serve customers and grow revenue, reduce inventory levels or to take costs out of their supply chain,” he said. 

Asked how receptive Malaysian SMIs were to IT as a business tool, Loh said: “Although we have not done in-depth surveys or studies to compare them with other countries, through our many conversations with local and regional businesses, we are certain that Malaysian SMIs are among the more progressive and forward looking in Asean.” 

He cited MC Bauchemie Sdn Bhd, a local building chemicals company that has leveraged on an integrated IT system to monitor growth and profitability on demand. 

While every business faces challenges and competition, he said, small and mid-size companies have a unique set of concerns all of their own.  

Topping the list were how to increase profitability and reduce operational expenses, how to improve real-time linkages with customers to provide timely access to information and to handle order and fulfilment demands, and how to handle spikes in demand effectively and efficiently. 

A critical lever for global competitiveness is a global presence at least electronically and an ability to respond fast to changing global dynamics, added Nitin Bhat, industry manager Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, another keynote speaker at the seminar.  

“It would be critical to maintain a presence in the supply chain of the participant industry so as to increase the stickiness with the suppliers and customers.” 

He added that SMIs in Malaysia recognised the importance of information technology as a key enabler that would allow them to compete effectively in the short term and maintain a sustainable business in the long run.  

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