Driving growth with technology

Tech it forward: (from left) Lee, Loh, P’ng and Yip take a look at how SMEs can make use of technology in various areas of their business.

COMPANIES should look into utilising technology to facilitate their growth, and this could be as big as automating operations or as simple as setting a relevant culture at the workplace.

At PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd, chief operating officer P’ng Tean Hau shares that the company uses social networking site Facebook to facilitate better communication. In fact, it will not hire anyone who doesn’t have a Facebook account.

“It is a compulsory requirement because the company uses the platform to communicate with the staff, ” says P’ng, who was one of the three panellists in a discussion at Penang’s SOBA LAB.

Held in Bayan Lepas at the Lexis Suite Penang, the official venue host for the event, the workshop saw a good turnout of representatives from SMEs looking to learn from industry leaders and experienced entrepreneurs.

The other panellists for the discussion, themed “Engine of Growth”, were RHB Bank Bhd SME banking head Yip How Nang and Digi business performance management head Alven Loh. The panel was moderated by Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) young entrepreneur committee member Dylan Lee.

“A Facebook account is free and provides instant feedback. Instead of banning it, which is difficult to do so, you might as well embrace it to move forward.

“We managed to get everybody involved because our group chief executive Datuk Michael Tio is very passionate about using Facebook to communicate and he keeps tabs on the company’s progress through the site, ” P’ng says.

On how technology can help companies grow, Loh says Digi has an iFleet application designed to track and monitor vehicles that are transporting goods.

“For example, manufacturing and logistics companies can use the application to save on labour cost, as it requires only a single staff to use for monitoring the company’s fleet.

“As compared to the conventional GPS solutions, iFleet provides real-time tracking information on the location of the vehicles, informs the company on the amount of petrol used for a delivery trip, and also the drivers’ behaviour analytics.

“The analysis will inform you whether the driver is driving safely, ” Loh says.

He adds that the borderless markets of today make it necessary for companies to modernise the way they do business.

“They should not be afraid of making changes, although it might be a hard and messy process.

“However, the rewards will make the effort to adopt technology worthwhile, ” Loh says.

Meanwhile, Yip says SMEs should refrain from extending their credit period unnecessarily.

“Extending credit can be a cash drainer. Always look at alternatives to get your cashback. If you are able to sustain, one way is to give your customers a discount to get them to pay you back faster.

“The other way is to get a credit machine to transfer the receivables to the bank which is able to give the credit card holder an interest-free grace period to pay back the debt.

“However, there are many SMEs that are still reluctant to use the credit machine because of the 1.5% merchant discount rate charged by the bank. The 1.5% charge is not a lot and SMEs should not be deterred from using credit card machines because of the charge, ” he adds.

Meanwhile, Credit Guarantee Corporation (CGC) Malaysia Bhd senior vice-president bumiputera development and product Azman Taufik says CGC can help small businesses get financing.

CGC, a subsidiary of Bank Negara, specialises in giving out guarantees to SMEs that do not have collaterals to obtain financing from banks. CGC has given out guarantees worth more than RM60bil to SMEs over the past 47 years.

“There are about 970, 000 SMEs in the country, and we have given out guarantees to about two-thirds of them, ” he adds.

The other speakers at SOBA LAB are Abrand Food Manufacturing Sdn Bhd director Branden Kuan and DeliverEat co-founder Leong Shir Mein.

Kuan spoke on the importance of exports, while Leong touched on how to grow businesses digitally.

“It is important for SMEs to export. The products don’t have to go very far. They could sell to neighbouring countries and that would be good enough for them to build a reputation.

“When you export, it shows that your product meets the standards of the international market, ” Kuan says.

Leong notes that its DeliverEat application, which can be downloaded onto smartphones, enables underserved restaurants to reach out to more customers.

“The application also generates jobs for unskilled and untrained workers who can serve as drivers to deliver food, ” she says.

Also present to share their success stories were Berjayapak Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Ooi Lay Pheng and Empire Sushi Group Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Nicole Lim.

This year’s Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) is now open for submission, for all locally incorporated enterprises that are not part of a multinational or listed group with foreign equity not exceeding 50%. Those interested in participating can download the submission pack at www.soba.com.my. The deadline for entries is Oct 7, 2019.

SOBA 2019 is organised by Star Media Group with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd as co-sponsor and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation as official trade promotion partner.

It is endorsed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO, with dimsum as official media partner.

For more information on SOBA 2019, call The Star Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1857 (Pei Wen)/ 1529 (Kimy) or visit www.soba.com.my.

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SOBA 2019


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