Embrace technology to remain relevant in business, SMEs advised

THE Covid-19 pandemic and movement control order have changed the way people conduct business, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Johor South SMEs Association adviser Teh Kee Sin said the way forward for SMEs was to embrace technology and apply it in their operations or business.

“Don’t treat technology as a roadblock but consider it as an enabler to move forward,’’ he said.

Teh said in today’s borderless world, digitalisation was no longer an option but a necessity, and that SMEs should not fear change.

He said smaller companies needed to have knowledge of where and how to start, including getting advice from the relevant service providers.

He added that the Smart Automation Grant (SAG) was the right step to encourage the adoption of automation among industry players, particularly local manufacturers and service providers.

Launched by International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), the initiative is part of the RM100mil allocation under the National Economic Recovery Plan or Penjana, which was announced in June last year.

The grant is awarded on a matching basis of 50% of total eligible expenditure, up to a maximum cap of RM1mil per company.

SMEs and mid-tier companies (MTCs) that have been involved in manufacturing or services activities for the past 12 months are eligible for consideration for SAG.

“Automation and digitalisation is good for SMEs as they can reduce dependence on foreign workers by up to 40%,” said Teh.

He hoped the government would consider allocating more money for SAG under Budget 2022, to allow more SMEs to benefit from the grant.

Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Low Kueck Shin said SMEs should make use of social media platforms as the marketing tool for their products and services.

“Business owners should not undermine the power of social networking as it opens a window of opportunities and growth prospects for them,” he said.

Low said SMEs, especially family-owned ones, needed to change their mindset if they want to remain competitive and relevant in today’s business world.

“Technology should be part of a company’s set-up,’’ he said.

Low said embracing automation and digitalisation was not an overnight transformation, adding that businesses should give themselves enough time to go through the process.

“The transformation can easily take between one and two years, and this includes upskilling and reskilling workers,” he said.

Low advised businesses in Johor to make full use of Johor Digital Economy Centre which provides comprehensive training and assistance to help Johoreans in their digital transformation journey.

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