The role of technology in business is crucial. It has changed every aspect of the way businesses operate.
With proper technology in place, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can save time, energy, resources and money while becoming more productive, competitive and secure.
In a webinar session presented by HP for Business and organised by Star Media Group, the discussion highlighted the need for technology adoption for efficient business management.
Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Bhd (MDEC) Global Growth Acceleration vice-president Gopi Ganesalingam moderated the session.
Kicking off the “Maximising Business Efficiency Through Technology” webinar was HP Inc Malaysia managing director Fayza Mohamed Amin, who shared that technology remained the key connector, and that it had been adapted to the company’s business model, especially during the recovery movement control order (MCO) period, in many different forms.
“We learn to use technology in different ways. We learn how to rebuild the workflow using the technology that we have based on necessity.
“We change the way we operate, the way we think and learn to communicate (using available technology) so that everyone gets the point,” she said.
For instance, using a video conferencing platform, she said, kept people closer because of the continuous communication.
While stressing that micro mobility was the future of work, she said that changing business workstyles demand that SMBs be more flexible, efficient and connected, wherever they are.
Fayza said they had shown their partners – retailers and corporations – available technological schemes to face challenges in their business operations including in managing assets and costs.
Fellow panellist DoubleWoot Online Fashion co-founder Helen Tan concurred, saying that technology played an important role in optimising business productivity.
“We have, in fact, invested a lot of time and effort in streamlining our operations by leveraging on technologies to grow and build our business globally.
“We have updated a few key processes to increase productivity, such as shifting to cloud servers, developing various plug-ins which seamlessly integrate to our e-commerce platform, automated our order processing and of course, allow cross collaborations between different work functions any time, anywhere through smart devices and centralised dashboard.
“Having said that, we are glad that we can leverage on the advantages of our existing technology backbone, which we established before the MCO, and enhanced it through explorations of artificial intelligence (AI), which can further strengthen our digital presence,” said Tan.
Another panellist Naluri Hidup Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and co-founder Azran Osman-Rani, shared how technology has been able to protect both salaries and jobs.
“We are excited about hiring and developing psychologists, dietitians and fitness coaches who know how to use our tech and analytics platform and decision-support tools to provide online coaching very differently than they would with face-to-face interactions or even just video conferencing one-on-one,” he pointed out.
In terms of managing cybersecurity risk challenges efficiently and effectively, Fayza said clients, including SMBs were advised to use technology which they fully understand, learn more about this technology and secure their data.
“Leaders and employees must equip themselves with basic IT skills including ways to protect each other from cyberattacks.
“Leaders must also put high emphasis on IT teams within businesses to ensure secured telecommunications and configuration is applied to all servers and network devices.
“It is encouraging to see SMBs ensuring digital solutions and decisions are secure and holistic to mitigate the effects, with increase in dependency for digital protection (antivirus software),” she said.
Tan said SMBs should not take security aspects lightly when involved in online business.
On this aspect, Azran as a technology entrepreneur said, AI was used to help healthcare professionals make quick and accurate decisions, assisting their clients and patients to make healthier choices and habits.
To a question by a participant on how much should be invested in technology for a business, Fayza shared that her previous experience with government-linked companies (GLCs) showed that technology accounted for between 10% and 20% of its total revenue.
“Today, I think GLCs together with SMBs would have the same priority (on investing in technology). Technology should be a main component in terms of doing business because today’s business model depends purely on technology.
“You need to have the right technology for your business and understand how to leverage this technology to develop your business model that will work in these uncertain times,” she added.
On the advice that she would give to companies trying to integrate technology into their operations, Fayza said, “Be ready to be ready.”
She said “knowledge, culture and the right people” would be key elements for success in technology adoption, adding that “even if your people are not right, make them right”.
Tan advised business owners to identify pain points in their operations, as technology could assist in optimising time and resources.
“Maybe, you can map your digitalisation roadmaps yearly and integrate one by one over time,” she said.
Azran, who believes a fantastic support community already exists, said, “If you ask for help, people will be genuinely eager to share their experience (on technology adoption).”
Fayza added that they remain committed to supporting the future digital transformation journey of SMBs as they adapt during this period.
“See digital as the way forward,” she said.
Asked by a participant if there were any government grants available for businesses to go online, Gopi added that there were two.
SMEs and corporates can apply for smart automation grant of up to RM200,000, or adoption grant of up to RM5,000 for cloud services or cloud solution.
To learn more about HP for Business, visit https://www8.hp.com/my/en/solutions/small-business.html