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Leverage data to go further


Data driven: (from left) Moderator MAICCI secretary-general Datuk Dr A T Kumararajah discusses the use of data with Ng, Meehan and Teh.

Data driven: (from left) Moderator MAICCI secretary-general Datuk Dr A T Kumararajah discusses the use of data with Ng, Meehan and Teh.

THERE is a growing call for companies, particularly small businesses, to leverage data to secure success in this digital age.

“Understand the importance of data. You need data. If you don’t harvest and harness data, you won’t be better off tomorrow,” cautioned Azwan Baharuddin, Accenture country managing director.

With the increase usage of the Internet and the rise in competition from the international market, he urged businesses to look at new strategic approaches to move forward.

He encouraged SMEs to use the data they have as much as they can to have better insights on what their customers want to make better decisions that will add value to the business and to their bottomlines.

“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 last Tuesday.

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.

Going cashless: (from left) Moderator Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers vice-president Datuk Andy Seo, Leong, Fong and Chung talked about Malaysia’s readiness for e-payment.
Going cashless: (from left) Moderator Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers vice-president Datuk Andy Seo, Leong, Fong and Chung talked about Malaysia’s readiness for e-payment.

Azwan added that business owners must consistently reinvent their organisation and reimagine their businesses to ensure that their companies remain relevant amid a fast changing business landscape.

Photobook Worldwide chief executive officer Leow Wee Jonn and Heng Hiap Industries managing director Seah Kian Hoe shared examples of how the use of technology, and data specifically, helped their business grow.

“The industry is not so much product-oriented, but more technology-oriented now. It is about who can do it faster and cheaper,” said Seah.

Heng Hiap has evolved from just a typical plastic recycler into a producer of innovative recycling technologies. The company manufactures Smart Plastics which can be used in highly specialised niche applications.

“A digital world is driven by data. And moving forward, data is going to drive our growth,” said Leow.

Tap opportunities: Azwan urges SMEs to harvest and harness data to grow.
Tap opportunities: Azwan urges SMEs to harvest and harness data to grow.

Apart from creating better products and targeting markets more efficiently, Aemulus Holdings Bhd executive director and chief executive officer Ng Sang Beng noted that data can also help an organisation improve on sales and efficiency.

Ng said companies can look into productivity data and adjust their manpower needs either by increasing workload per employee according to capability or by hiring more salesforce to increase revenue.

However, with the increased collection of data, there is also a need to look into data security and ensuring that protocols are put in place to avoid data breaches or leakages.

“We need to take data privacy and data integrity very seriously in the organisation. This is one of the most important thing. We need to get rid of this tidak apa attitude about data,” said Digi chief business officer Eugene Teh during the session “The Power of Data – Monetising Data”.

Another topic that saw strong interest was on the growing use of e-payment.

With the increase in cross-border trade, SMEs cannot afford to lose out on the use of digital payments.

Look further: Sharimahton advises businesses to seek opportunities abroad.
Look further: Sharimahton advises businesses to seek opportunities abroad.

In markets like China, which has a good trading relationship with Malaysia, the urgency for SMEs to adopt e-payment is greater. Companies need to be equipped with the knowledge and infrastructure to tap into this new development to ensure that they do not get left behind as the business ecosystem progresses.

“Our smartphone penetration is high. The social networking stats here are also encouraging. So what is hindering us from moving towards a cashless society is the mindset,” said RHB Bank Bhd head of group transaction banking Chung Chee Kai.

“We are partnering different ones to give our customers more holistic solutions to build the ecosystem together.

“The technology is there, the scene is set. We just need to see how we can be holistic and generate the trust level needed for SMEs to convert (to a cashless business),” Chung added.

Some of the other speakers at SMEBiz Think Tank were Golden Screen Cinemas chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee, TheLorry.com co-founder and executive director Nadhir Ashafiq, Supahands vice president of sales Greg Meehan, EasyParcel chief executive officer Clarence Leong and Storehub chieftain Fong Wai Hong.

Also present were Matrade deputy chief executive officer Sharimahton Mat Saleh and Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd vice president of SME advisory and marketing Jenny Hoh who addressed SME concerns regarding export and financing respectively.

Despite the globalisation wave, Sharimahton noted that only 17% of local SMEs are exporting their products and services.

Funding needs: Hoh says SMEs can refer to CGCs portal for help on financing.
Funding needs: Hoh says SMEs can refer to CGCs portal for help on financing.

“You need to reach the whole world. Don’t just be a jaguh kampung. E-commerce is the way to go,” she advises SMEs.

Meanwhile, Hoh shared that SMEs looking to shop around for the right financing product could refer to CGC’s portal.

SMEBiz Think Tank is part of Star Media Group’s ongoing support for SMEs under The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) initiative.

SMEBiz Think Tank 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.

For details on SOBA 2018, call Star Media Group Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1233 / 1857 or email events@thestar.com.my.

SMEBiz Think Tank , SOBA

   

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