Starting small with digitalisation

Kuan: The whole process of digitalisation for me is in reducing manpower

KUALA LUMPUR: Embarking on the digitalisation journey need not be daunting for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they can start small by optimising their daily business processes and tasks.

Sharing the simple steps and insights on how SMEs can leverage on digitalisation for growth and sustainability was the focus of the recent Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2021 #SOS Save Our SMEs webinar.

Themed “Bolstering the Digitalisation of SMEs”, the webinar focused on knowledge-sharing and insights on the digitalisation journey in terms of the key components and aspects in going digital, how digital reinvention transforms the way businesses bring together customers, data and processes, as well as how SMEs can leverage on the right innovative strategies and technologies for their businesses.

It saw industry heavyweights such as Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd (CGC) chief corporate officer Rahim Raduan, Maxis Business SME head Kevin Lee, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd chief marketing officer Kuan Eu Jin and RHB Bank Bhd chief digital officer Dev Raaj Shanmugam diving deep into the topic.

Dev Raaj: Do an assessment of where the problems and the challenges lie.Dev Raaj: Do an assessment of where the problems and the challenges lie.

The panel was moderated by Pikom councillor Stan Singh.

Noting that business owners must have the right mindset for impactful digitalisation for the long term, along with the right team, CGC’s Rahim said that based on statistics, close to 50% of the chief executive officers (CEOs) for micro, small and medium businesses were between the ages of 25 and 44 – a large number were millennials, so they were very familiar with the digital tools of today.

He added that in calibrating the business to incorporate the digital journey, having a clear vision on the scope of the business and the potential for growth was key, as digital was just an enabler for business growth.

“The question for CEOs is all about understanding the needs of the business, (such as the) importance of having a digital set-up for the business and the potential for growth that they can achieve through digitalisation,” he shared.

Maxis Business’ Kevin pointed out that smaller businesses tend to lack a dedicated IT team, hence the biggest challenge they faced was in identifying where to start, the resources involved and the partners required to help them drive digitalisation.

Kevin: Smaller businesses tend to lack a dedicated IT team.Kevin: Smaller businesses tend to lack a dedicated IT team.

Dev Raaj said, “(To start on digitalisation), my recommendation would be for businesses to look at their entire business operations and then try to identify the friction points they are facing – it could be in terms of how they’re serving their customers and the other critical components of doing business.

“Do an assessment of where the problems and the challenges lie, and then look for the solution.

“You can’t be looking for the solution and then identifying the problem, especially in digitalisation where there are so many tools and opportunities out there.”

Kuan, on the other hand, said that while digitalisation may seem to be daunting for SMEs, it was not hard to start the journey, especially starting small through basic automation in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

“The whole premise of digitalisation for me is in reducing manpower in terms of reducing the duplication of work tasks and improving accuracy and efficiency.

“Just look first at your Excel sheets and see where you can cut down any task that can be reduced and that will be your first step.”

Rahim: Having a clear vision on the scope of the business is key.Rahim: Having a clear vision on the scope of the business is key.

George Lee, the CEO of Innov8tif Solutions Sdn Bhd, SOBA 2020’s platinum winner for best in innovation under the up to RM25mil turnover tier, also shared his company’s experience in getting started on the digital transformation.

Tap into the low-hanging fruits that directly impact your business bottom line, he stressed, adding that the key was to get the entire organisation involved at all levels, which could also help iron out operational and efficiency issues in digital deployment.

“Digitisation is already your business strategy today.

“Think internally, think externally, get your people involved.

“There’s always trial and error. If it doesn’t work, be fluid enough to change,” he said.

SOBA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group Bhd with CGC, Maxis, PKT Logistics and RHB Bank as the main sponsors and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp as the official trade promotion partner.

Supported by the International Trade and Industry Ministry and Bursa Malaysia, it is audited by BDO with 988 and Suria as official media partners.

For more information on SOBA 2021, call The Star Events at 017-817 8099 or visit

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