PETALING JAYA: The prolonged Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to jump onto the digitalisation bandwagon in order to survive.
“There are many stories of businesses having to close down because they are not able to respond to the black swan event of the pandemic. Nobody had anticipated this and businesses are dying,” Malaysia Digital Economy Corp chief digital business officer Aiza Azreen Ahmad (pic) said at the unifi Business Club’s Reboot 6.0: Why Is Business Automation Key For Business Continuity Post-Pandemic forum.
“This threatens their existence; and note that digitalisation is not an exercise which requires thousands of ringgit.
“A young man who sells car perfumes in a rural area with patchy Internet connection still ventured into the e-commerce space and now he has to hire three people in his business with a turnover of about RM40,000 a month,” Aiza Azreen added.
She also said that going digital had many other benefits and is also able to help SMEs venture into new markets.
“Another person who sells wedding headgear had managed to create a new market for himself in Singapore. There are now more opportunities for his product,” Aiza Azreen said.
She also pointed out that the pandemic is not sparing even the bigger industry players such as fashion retailer Zara.
“Zara had to close (some) of its outlets globally and many had lost their jobs. Why is this so? Because previously it believed that people should come to its store and experience all the fashion and it forget that people have the option of buying online.”
Aiza Azreen noted that the option to buy online was way more flexible because people are able to purchase items and return it if they are not happy with their purchases.
“These are the areas if people don’t get digitalised, even a big name such as Zara would be affected,” she said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft Dynamics 365 head of sales Pratheep Kumar Arumugam said there is ongoing discussion now as to whether manpower would need to be retrenched following a decision by businesses to automate their operations.
“This question had arisen way before the pandemic. Any organisation would need to adapt to business automation. They would need to go on this journey irrespective of industries. But actually no; instead, they would need to get their workforce focus on the tasks that need to be done,” he said.
“This is actually when data analysts would need to be upgraded to data specialists. The digitalisation trend actually helps enable (jobs),” he added.