THE way forward for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups is to go digital as this will help them grow.
Instead of fearing technology, Digi head of corporate and SME, business division Allie Tan said they should utilise it to their advantage.
“Like it or not, our SMEs need to start changing their mind set for their own good and start-ups should also think mobile first from day one. When launching a new product or campaign, an organisation needs to think mobile first, including building a website.
“SMEs should not use financial constraint as the reason not to start embracing technology, they should look at the long-term gains and benefits for them,” she said at the SOBA Lab workshop at Puteri Pacific Hotel Johor Baru last Wednesday.
Tan said although majority of the SMEs were family-owned, with the first generation founders still around to helm their businesses, it shouldn’t be a hindrance for them to go digital.
“I don’t see any problems, with their children now managing their businesses, they should be able to convince their fathers or mothers to go digital,” she said.
Tan was one of the three panellists for the panel discussion on “Technology – The Engine of Change”.
The other panellists were RHB Bank Bhd group transaction banking head Chung Chee Kai and PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd group chief operating officer P’ng Tean Hau.
Malaysia Entrepreneur Development Association secretary general Datuk Bruce Lim moderated the session.
Chung added that the way forward for businesses and the country is for people to embrace cashless transactions.
“At the same time, all of us have to start changing our mind set,” he said.
Chung said that Malaysia is actually ready for a cashless society and expected this to become a reality within the next two years when the full infrastructure is in place.
He said a lot of awareness programmes and initiatives have been conducted to encourage customers to embrace cashless transactions.
“It is challenging but it could be done and we need to simplify the procedures for users without compromising on safety and security.
“Sometimes jargons or technology terms might make those who are not tech-savvy become scared of them. This might make them reluctant to change as they are more comfortable with the conventional way of doing business, which they are familiar with,” said Chung.
PKT’s P’ng said using social media was the most effective way to engage with employees as it gets the message across to everyone faster.
“We no longer use physical notice boards to display memos or circulars to our employees.
“Using Facebook (FB) is a more effective tool as we found that they (our employees) hardly look at physical notice boards nowadays,” he said.
P’ng said it was mandatory for its 1,000 employees to have an FB account and those planning to join the company must also have an FB account as hiring is done via FB.
“We will not hire them if they did not have FB accounts,” he said, adding that there were 19,000 people on its Talent Hunt Group and from the huge base, the company could hire new employees.
He said the platform allowed everyone to comment and give their suggestions or views, which encourages open communication at the company.
“Our employees are happy with that and happy employees will contribute to better productivity and a more conducive working environment,” said P’ng.
Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) vice president, SME advisory and marketing Jenny Ho said one of the biggest challenges for SMEs and start-ups was to get bank loans.
“They can go to www.imsme.com.my and we will provide advisory and assistance to them.
“One of the main issues why loan applications by SMEs are rejected by banks is that most of them don’t have collateral and transaction records. We would like to advise them to look into these as proper documentations will mean better chances of getting loans,” said Ho.
Meanwhile, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) southern region director Raphy Radzi said entrepreneurs and businesses could always approach Matrade if they want information on the global market.
“We are more than happy to assist you or you can also download the Matrade MyExport mobile app and register with us.
“They will get alerts and reports from trade offices and detailed reports on market studies including successful Malaysian entrepreneurs in the global market,” he said.
The other speakers at the SOBA Lab were The Holstein Milk Company Sdn Bhd (Farm Fresh) managing director Loi Tuan Ee, Seri Austin chief executive officer cum UMLand Townships group director Wong Kuen Kong and Proguard Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd chief operating officer Datuk Lee Ngai Mun and chief executive officer and chief finance officer Datin Cindy Choh.
The next SOBA Lab will be held at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya on Aug 8.
Entry for SOBA Lab is free of charge but seats are limited. Interested participants are encouraged to register at bit.ly/SOBALAB2018 to secure a seat on a first-come-first-served basis.
The workshops are organised in conjunction with The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2018.
SOBA 2018 is organised by Star Media Group with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and New World Petaling Jaya Hotel as official venue.
SOBA 2018 is endorsed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia, and audited by BDO, with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.
For more information on SOBA 2018, call Star Media Group Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1432 (Jasmine)/ext 1857 (Pei Wen) of go to www.soba.com.my