Speeding up digital transformation


CAUGHT unprepared amid the Covid-19 pandemic for the last two years, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have had to quickly pivot digitally to survive.

With this in mind, Star Media Group collaborated with HP Malaysia in a webinar titled “#SembangBiz with HP - Accelerating Business Through Digital Transformation” to explore how SMEs can further speed up the process.

The webinar focused on three areas, namely transforming the way businesses worked from workforce to workplace, the future of hybrid work and safeguarding data as businesses embraced new hybrid experiences.Dr Sumitra was the moderator at the webinar.Dr Sumitra was the moderator at the webinar.

The speakers were HP Malaysia managing director Alex Tan, AMD Malaysia commercial lead Evin Tan and digital health startup Naluri chief executive officer and co-founder Azran Osman Rani.

Acting as moderator was Malaysia Digital Economic Corporation (MDEC) senior vice-president and strategy and policy head Dr Sumitra Nair.

Dr Sumitra opened the discussion by stating that from MDEC’s point of view, most SMEs today did not have to be convinced to digitalise, but rather how to do it fast and at a fraction of the cost.

She went on to field a question as to how SMEs could adapt and invest in the right types of technology and how that would affect the workforce.

Alex started off by noting that SMEs contributed close to 40% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) last year at RM5.2bil, making them the backbone of the Malaysian economy.

These enterpriseAlex: By encouraging a culture that views remote work as a positive alternative to working in the office, the team can have a good balance of creativity and collaboration.Alex: By encouraging a culture that views remote work as a positive alternative to working in the office, the team can have a good balance of creativity and collaboration.s, he said, mostly adapted by expanding their web presence, such as digitising their catalogues and initiating video conferencing.

However, he added, SMEs were looking at a long-term approach to digital transformation.

“Like life, digital transformation also has phases,” he elaborated.

“Phase One is where the company is just starting out by testing digitisation within their businesses.

“Here, my suggestion is to take small steps – invest in a website, engage Facebook marketing, and connect with customers digitally.”

The second phase, Alex said, was to connect stakeholders within a value chain using automated ordering systems to increase efficiency and productivity, such as sharing warehouse or stock catalogues on websites for orders.

“The third phase would be to use digitisation to create new business models, new products or services by subscription services,” he added.Azran: As leaders, our job is to create an environment where people feel like they can do their best.Azran: As leaders, our job is to create an environment where people feel like they can do their best.

Azran provided a human-centric leadership perspective on workforce transformation – to be faster, smarter and happier.

Faster refers to shifting from manual to automation, such as digitalising sales figures using artificial intelligence recognition.

“Smarter refers to investing in the workforce through e-learning programmes, challenging team members to constantly improve their digital dexterity and upscaling workers to use various software applications and technology tools, expanding their work experience.

“Third, as entrepreneurs we should also address employee happiness,” he said.

Azran added that by improving productivity, engagement and well-being through technologies, workers would be allowed to work flexibly from anywhere.

Meanwhile, Evin said technology could help SMEs reduce capital and operational expenditures, while increasing sales revenue.

“With better technology, the workforce will be able to get better WiFi connections and have improved performance and battery life on the move or on ground.”

With regards to a hybrid work environment, Azran said the need to distinguish between jobs or roles where physical presence was required, such as a factory worker, restaurateur or a pilot.

“With hybrid working, the idea of flexibility needs to be clear and explicit of when to bring teams together,” he said.

Alex weighed in that the hybrid model could be flexible and empower employees to work to their strength, which in turn would boost productivity.Evin: Technology can help SMEs reduce their capital and operational expenditures as well as to increase sales revenue.Evin: Technology can help SMEs reduce their capital and operational expenditures as well as to increase sales revenue.

“By encouraging a culture that views remote work as a positive alternative to working in the office, the team can have a good balance of creativity and collaboration,” he said.

Evin suggested finding out the best experience to gain from employees, be it working from home, somewhere outside or the working environment.

“As long as they have connectivity and can Zoom, they can talk, meet and work any time, anywhere.”

With regards to cybersecurity, Evin said most SMEs that invested fully in digital transformation might not have allocations for cybersecurity.

He said certain technologies, such as AMD’s world’s first x86 processor which integrates Microsoft Pluton Security Processor, would give users multiple layers of security to protect data while transmitting on a cloud or during video conferencing.

Alex said human error was a key cause of cyberattacks and suggested investing in cybersecurity training for employees.

“You can have one of the best security systems, but with human error, everything is out the window,” he said.

On challenges in hybrid transformation, Azran advised putting culture at the forefront.

“As leaders, our job is to create an environment where people feel like they can do their best, they can learn and grow,” he said.

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