Why businesses need to move forward digitally

As one of the private schools in Singapore, MDIS offers academic programmes from diploma to doctorate across disciplines.

WITH the recent Covid-19 pandemic, there is a significant impact on every aspect of life, including how people live and shop in the new normal.

Businesses around the world are affected by this unexpected black swan event and are facing new challenges to transform their business model.

Most enterprises had to relook their business model and to transform and innovate their businesses for survival.

Many have managed to keep afloat by going digital.

Education, in general, has been very quick to move into the digital age, using all the tools available to ensure that learning is enriched and that students have access to an even more valuable educational experience than ever before.

At the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS), it believes that exciting times are up ahead.

MDIS offers internationally-accredited courses in Business, Engineering, Fashion and Design, Health and Nursing, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Languages and Education, Media and Communications, Psychology, Tourism and Hospitality, Safety and Environmental Management, and preparatory courses for GCE “O” and “A” levels and Cambridge IGCSE.

These programmes are offered in collaboration with renowned universities in the United Kingdom.

Since 2010, MDIS conducts its own graduate surveys for each graduating cohort.

The latest MDIS Graduate Employability Survey (GES) conducted in 2018 for both full-time and part-time students revealed that 80.9% of the graduates were employed within six months of graduation with permanent and temporary placements.

This figure is 7.4% higher in comparison to the GES in 2017, which stood at 73.5%.

However, when making the digital transition, these businesses were also met with challenges such as:

  • Employees are not ready for change: Workers are not trained for digital or online platforms. To overcome this, employers have to conduct programmes for all their employees.

  • Lack of funds: Since the change was abrupt, employers were not ready to transform and did not allocate sufficient funds to train employees. Reallocation of funds to train employees on digital competency is necessary.

  • Market acceptance: Initially, many segments of customers preferred the conventional way of buying or shopping. Governments and businesses should provide more incentives to promote online shopping or buying to bring about a shift in the mindset of the public.

Companies, particularly smaller business entities, have struggled to gain traction online, as most of them are mainly brick and mortar set-ups, especially those offering services rather than products. They were also unable to anticipate the changing consumers' behaviours due to the pandemic.

Covid-19 is changing how consumers behave across all spheres of life, from how we work to how we shop to how we entertain ourselves.

This pandemic had also created surging opportunities in e-commerce and changing of brand preferences for more trusted brands.

Consumers are also purchasing in larger quantities to reduce the frequency of shopping and with nesting and working from home, online shopping is surging.

MDIS students are equipped with skills for future-proof careers. MDIS students are equipped with skills for future-proof careers.

For service providers, the first thing to do is to educate the people.

For example, doctors’ online consultation services gained popularity during the pandemic period. This has made online consultation services more visible as well as create awareness among ourselves.

In addition, a proper system should be set up to support service providers as well as protect the people. Governments and businesses have to work together to push this forward, especially on the regulatory aspect.

Though digital platforms have been around, there is some resistance from people towards online services.

Awareness programmes need to be conducted and the pandemic was a good starting point, whereby we were forced to use digital platforms to perform most of our daily activities including meetings, shopping, and more.

The new normal brought on by the pandemic, is, of course, a very abnormal situation. For the first time ever, target audiences for all marketers have been captives in their own homes.

Even though the strictest provisions of lockdowns have been relaxed, they will not be completely lifted for months to come.

This means a dramatic increase in the consumption of all things digital.

And digital consumption is habit-forming. The large numbers of people all over the world who have survived on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media during the lockdown, will continue their patronage.

MDIS is Singapore's oldest not-for-profit professional institute for lifelong learning.MDIS is Singapore's oldest not-for-profit professional institute for lifelong learning.

That said, social media will grow into an even greater commodity in the coming months.

As for marketers who ignore it, they do so at their own peril.

Today, everybody is slowly learning the advantages of doing various kinds of transactions from home, and consumers are growing accustomed to buying online.

Back then, most would balk at buying fruits and vegetables online.

But now they do so fairly happily, which is a rather dramatic change in mindset.

This goes to show that marketing every kind of product online directly to customers, whether you are selling a pin or an expensive automobile, is now a permanent and an exciting part of our future.

However, the main area of concern is mental inertia. The entire world has been abruptly thrown into a new space but our minds may still be locked in the old ways.

This is a long-overdue paradigm shift but today we have all been thrown abruptly into the digital deep end. And if we are not to sink, we must learn how to swim as there is no other alternative.

On that note, this is an opportunity that we must all seize to improve, upgrade, and digitise all our processes.

Some of the other areas of concern that need addressing are competent manpower to lead and manage digital platforms, infrastructure that can implement these processes, and ways and means to ensure the security of all the digital information.

MDIS smart factory provides students with hands-on experience.MDIS smart factory provides students with hands-on experience.

Each industry is unique. For a company to transform, first it needs to be certain if the market or its clients are ready to accept its services online.

Then, the management should lead the way and commit to transforming.

The next step is execution by the staff.

The examples that we need to follow are social media and online entertainment companies.

They have shown the way to the rest of the industries and if the companies and customers in these sectors have been able to adapt, the other industries should follow suit.

For more information, visit https://www.mdis.edu.sg/.

For a virtual tour of the campus, click here.

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