Look into digital way of doing business

Helping SMEs: Lee (third from right) advises small businesses to digitalise their operations to remain competitive.

Helping SMEs: Lee (third from right) advises small businesses to digitalise their operations to remain competitive.

SMEs can take a leaf out of telco’s experiences and product offerings

WITH the advent of cloud technology and the Internet of Things, businesses can no longer afford not to look into digitalisation.

Digi Telecommunication Sdn Bhd head of enterprise business Ignatius Lee points out that the digitalising of businesses is not a matter of “if” but “when”.

“There are many disruptions in the market today and failure to address these disruptions can prove to be quite fatal to the company. The world is changing and the same way of working or the same operations may not be efficient anymore as more and more younger consumers, or even the older ones, prefer the easiest digital methods,” says Lee.

He notes that businesses, particularly SMEs, need to change with the development of technology to remain relevant to consumers and the industry.

Digitalisation can help companies save cost and increase efficiency in the long run as operations become more automated.

Notably, SMEs have not always been known to be at the forefront in new technology adoption because of the high cost involved with integrating new initiatives into their existing operations. Additionally, there is no guarantee on how long it would take for them to recoup their investment.

Staying relevant: SMEs need to evolve with the development of new technology.
Staying relevant: SMEs need to evolve with the development of new technology. 

But Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“People have always been sceptical of accepting change or new things. The same goes for SMEs when it comes to digitalisation. They are worried about the uncertainties and the difficulties they may face in the early stages of digitalisation, which is understandable. Although it may cause SMEs a little bit of difficulties in the early stage, it will be worth it if you see it till the end,” Lee says.

He adds that digitising a business need not necessarily cost business owners a bomb as the scale of investment varies according to the different business needs.

He notes that SMEs often put off investing into digitalisation because of the cost but the delay may actually cost them more in the long run.

“They may think that digitalisation is a luxury and they don’t really need it as yet. Hence, the priority to digitalise has become secondary versus getting a return on their investment.

“Malaysian SMEs are still catching up to other developed countries in terms of digitalisation of their businesses,” says Lee.

Lee advises SMEs to take on a gradual approach when integrating new technology into their day-to-day operations.

“Not everyone can integrate everything in one go if you are starting from scratch,” he says.

“It must happen gradually and with reasonable expectation of the outcomes at each stage of the digitalisation process,” he adds.

For example, a shoe wholesale business may start by digitalising its payment method first by adopting mobile point of sales (mpos). The business owner can then reevaluate the pros and cons of this new change to the business and tweak accordingly before implementing other digital solutions such as inventory or logistics management.

Lee reminds business owners that digitalisation is not a one-off occurrence, it’s a continual journey.

“We need to adapt to changes when it happens and we need to change when the need arises,” he says.

A few years ago, Digi also embarked on its own digitalisation journey to enhance productivity and put the company in a better position to grow in the future. The telco digitised operations in numerous areas such as sales, marketing and customer service.

This involved moving from physical sales registration to digital distribution and utilising a sales platform, leveraging on different social media platforms to increase brand awareness for marketing, which has been impactful in reaching out to a wider audience, and digitising customer service to serve customers better in-stores, through self-serve on devices and with better back-end support.

Digi’s efforts have helped the company remain relevant with its customers and at the same time, made it easier for its employees to carry out administrative work.

Lee says there are three principles to guide SMEs as they embark on their digitalisation journey.

The first one is to visualise your destination.

“Start with the end game in mind. Where are you heading to with this journey your company is taking? This is important as it will set the flow for the whole company and the mindset of your employees. It will help you have a clear vision of where this digitalisation journey will lead your company to so that you won’t stop midway,” he says.

The second one is to build on what you already have.

Rather than start an initiative with something that they don’t have, companies should focus on building on their strengths and improvise through digitalisation. Lee adds that digitalisation is meant to help companies with their core operations and not to start a different operation.

Thirdly, SMEs need to choose the right tools and partner in their digitalsation efforts.

This, he says, is essential as the common mistake that SMEs usually make is to simply jump onto the bandwagon.

“Some homework must be done before they even ask for a solution. Always start off with a problem statement, then identify the needs. With problems analysed and needs identified, we can look for the right tools and partners to provide you with the right solution,” he says.

With its experience, Lee says Digi has ready solutions to help SMEs with their digitalisation efforts with off-the-shelf products and customised solutions that provide end-to-end product support and maintenance.

“Digi has put in utmost priority in our end-to-end support for digitalisation based on five main pillars, which are rate plans, borderless roaming features, digital-ready network, customised solutions and dedicated customer support, all crucial elements for an SME’s digitalisation journey,” he says.

He adds that Digi’s enhanced nationwide network ensures best connectivity for businesses with its latest 900 mhz spectrum and a stable and consistent wireless transmission as well as a fibre-ready network nationwide.

“Our solutions also help with better productivity and higher output with Digi’s customised business solutions ranging from mpos to machine-to-machine (M2M) solution and digital fleet management, iFleet,” he says.

Under its mpos solution, Digi has made it easier for businesses by providing convenient, reliable and secure transactions with its trusted banking partners like Maybank, Cimb and Ambank.

Meanwhile, direct M2M communication will ensure more data transfers happen with ease and speed. This has also improved the management efficiency of the system or business operation whereby any issue that arises can be solved immediately and remotely.

SME , Technology , Telcos , Digi , telco , digitalisation , digital