Accenture MD encourages SMEs to go the digital way

Accenture country managing director, Azwan Baharuddin delivered his keynote address at the Star SME Biz ThinkTank 2018 at New World Petaling Jaya Hotel. - AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The initiative to digitalise their processes and businesses will benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs), said Accenture country managing director Azwan Baharuddin.

“The opportunities for SMEs are huge.

“They are well placed to weather this digital disruption and take advantage of technology with the right approach,” he said during a keynote address at the SMEBiz Think Tank conference organized by Star Media Group.

“The survival of our local companies are at stake. Ultimately, the fear is that we become a country that only consumes but does not produce,’’ he added.

The conference titled “Business UnUsual; Thriving in the Era of Change,” focused mainly on how local SMEs can ride the wave of digital revolution to their benefit in this modern era of innovation.

He advised SMEs to find their niche market and focus on that.

“At Accenture, we have a disruption index and our latest report at the global level reveals that 63% of companies faced high levels of disruption and 44% show signs of susceptibility to future disruptions,” Azwan said. “Digitalisation itself has no business value, however, it leaves a foundation for business cases that leverage the data.

“Everything will be able to be processed quicker and at a much more cost effective level.” Azwan cited the example of traditional taxi-hailing which have been disrupted by companies such as Grab and Uber that ride on technology to offer solutions.

There are two types of profound disruptions - a “big bang” and a compressive one which is more gradual.

Disruptions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, as it can demonstrate business innovation to keep itself relevant with consumers.

“Take the example of e-commerce sites that encroached on brick-and-mortar stores, forcing them to launch their own digital platforms.

“Many companies are slow to leverage on digital sites. We did a study back in 2017 called the Digital Performance Index where we looked at 27 large companies. About 44% of corporations ride on digitalisation as part of their strategy, but only 7% had a dedicated digital budget.

“If you only dedicate 7% to digital, then the whole market is at risk. While 52% have launched new digital products, only 11% use digital for manufacturing processes, for example,” he said.

Azwan addressed the solutions to this pending problem and cited that reinvention to remain relevant to consumers, re-imagining businesses, and developing partnerships with other SMEs is the way to stay afloat.

“The key lies in collaborating with like-minded companies which requires a big change in mindset,” he added.

The conference featured 13 industry experts over seven sessions to discuss issues related to SME’s.

The event is an extension of The Star Outstanding Business Award (SOBA), which has now entered its ninth consecutive year to recognise, honour and reward outstanding non-public listed companies and SMEs in the fields of marketing, branding, CSR, green initiative, employer, innovation, global market, technology, entrepreneurship and more.

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