Pivoting online to assist SMEs

Uzaidi (pic) who is also president of the Malaysian Tourism Council said that TPN has formulated the TPN 5R strategy to reset the tourism industry in Malaysia. The five key elements under TPN 5R are Reinvent Product, Research Target Market, Remodel Marketing and Promotion, Ride on Technology, and Recalibrate the Industry

TO assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) mitigate the impact of the movement control order that was implemented to stem the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) has successfully adopted a variety of online platforms to support SMEs in their productivity and business growth.

MPC deputy director general Zahid Ismail said the shift towards digitisation is critical in light of the social and movement restrictions of the MCO, and to rise above the compounded challenges of the pandemic encompassing health, economy and social crises.

“Our aim is to assist industry players from various sectors to manage their businesses more efficiently and to evolve their business model to flourish in a post-Covid-19 world, ” he said.

Among the various online platforms MPC has in place include the Unified Public Consultation (UPC) portal to obtain public feedback on amendments to existing regulations and the drafting of new regulations; webinars on sectoral topics of interest featuring thought leaders and industry practitioners; and, one-to-one business virtual advisory clinics and business virtual consultancy to support SMEs in rebuilding the business due to the adverse impact of Covid-19.

To create greater awareness of these online platforms and support services, MPC has been publicising these initiatives to generate positive response.

As of May 2020, more than 10,000 users have registered on the UPC portal to provide their feedback and recommendations on regulations. More than 100 webinars have been held, with over 20,000 participants. More than 200 companies have applied online for the business virtual advisory clinics, which has recorded a satisfaction level of 93%. As for the business virtual consultancy, approximately 50 entrepreneurs have participated in the programme.

According to Zahid, the new online platforms launched were the result of MPC’s sustained focus on its digitisation agenda, which has occurred in three waves.

“In the pipeline for deployment in the near future is the Online Productivity Link Wage System (PLWS) certification programme which provides certifications for companies that practise productivity gain sharing with their employees.

“To date, approximately 80,000 companies have obtained the offline certification, and MPC expects more to do so once PLWS goes online, ” he said.

A key move was helping hard hit businesses in the tourism sector to pivot their traditional business model to a new virtual tourism business model through the Tourism Virtual Advisory Clinic (T-VAC).

Organised by MPC, the T-VAC was held by the Tourism Productivity Nexus (TPN) to offer tourism players the support they require to sustain their business operations through the pandemic and in a post-Covid-19 world. The TPN is one of the nine priority Productivity Nexus identified under the Malaysian Productivity Blueprint to enhance productivity and competitiveness.

TPN head Uzaidi Udanis said almost 150 companies directly related to tourism attended the T-VAC sessions which were held over the past two weeks. The sessions included a series of 18 TPN Knowledge Enhancement Webinars (TPN KEWS) covering topics such as marketing and promotion, digital advertising, financial management, business operations, Covid-19 stimulus packages, and access to the Special Relief Fund (SRF).

Additionally, a TPN Virtual Summit (TPNVitS) was held to gather input from a wide base of stakeholders to formulate the best response towards rebuilding the national tourism sector.

“The response has been encouraging, and industry players have requested for these online sessions to continue even post-MCO, ” he said.

As a result of the online engagements, tourism industry stakeholders reached the consensus that the pre-Covid-19 tourism model involving large tour groups would not survive through the pandemic. Expectations are for a shift towards smaller tourist arrivals, as people adapt their lifestyle to address public health concerns.

Uzaidi who is also president of the Malaysian Tourism Council said that TPN has formulated the TPN 5R strategy to reset the tourism industry in Malaysia. The five key elements under TPN 5R are Reinvent Product, Research Target Market, Remodel Marketing and Promotion, Ride on Technology, and Recalibrate the Industry.

A key outcome of the strategy was to pivot the traditional brick and mortar tourism model to virtual tourism. An innovative concept, virtual tourism offers real-time online experiences to tourists from the safety and comfort of their homes.

A pilot was conducted at the Piasau Nature Reserve in Miri, Sarawak, where a local tour guide took virtual tourists on a walkabout through the nature reserve, while sharing the local love story between Faridah and Jimmy in the product packaged as “Tragic Love of Faridah” at the extremely affordable price of RM30 per pax.

“The pilot was a hit, and we have gone on to pioneer a total of 10 virtual tourism products which will be rolled out over the course of the next few weeks, ” said Uzaidi.

He said the interactive nature of the walkabout, which enabled tourists to ask questions of their tour guide host as they would on a face-to-face encounter, made it a different experience from watching a YouTube video.

Among the virtual tourism experiences in the pipeline are an online experience with the conservationist Laili Basir, and an exclusive session with the popular 1980s music band Fredo Flybaits.

According to Zahid, MPC plans to utilise the same approach to find innovative ways for SMEs to pivot to the new normal of conducting business in a post-Covid-19 world, throughout all the nine Productivity Nexus.

“Despite the prevalent challenges, SMEs have quickly adapted to the Covid-19 crisis to harvest the productivity benefits of online technologies which include reduced costs, as well as better time management, ” he said.

He noted that now that the paradigm has shifted, businesses will further digitise their processes, products and services, to remain competitive in an economic landscape that has dramatically changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Article courtesy of Malaysia Productivity Corp

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