Helping SMEs gain the digitalisation edge

Discussion in progress: (clockwise from top right) Moderator Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief digital business officer, Aiza Azreen Ahmad with presenters: HP Inc business director for Malaysia and Singapore, Yogesh Bhatia; Digi Telecommunications Sustainability head, Philip Ling; and Intel Corporation director of Global Accounts for Asia Pacific and Japan, Ajay Mathur.

SMALL and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that joined the recent Digitalisation, Security and Sustainability – The Need for Change webinar on April 27 organised by Star Media Group and presented by HP Inc and Intel Corporation, have access to a wealth of information on how to guard themselves against cyber threats and to make their business more sustainable.

The online discussion was moderated by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chief digital business officer Aiza Azreen Ahmad, with presenters from HP Inc – Yogesh Bhatia, business director for Malaysia and Singapore; Ajay Mathur, Intel Corporation director of global accounts for Asia Pacific and Japan; and Philip Ling, Digi Telecommunications’ sustainability head.

Digitalisation issue

Yogesh stated that in a survey done by HP Inc, around 67% of SMEs struggle with digitalistion, although everyone wants to move in that direction.

He pointed out that when the pandemic eventually passes, the lead that everybody will have on digitalisation will be phenomenal as many have taken the opportunity to take up part time jobs and more people have started working from home, which is a new trend.

Ling offered that SMEs can start by looking at digitising and digitalising their businesses.

“Digitising, ” he explained, “is when you provide employees the tools to operationalise some of the automation in the business, like how you make general administration and marketing more efficient.”

Digitalisation however, covers business transformation by reaching out to new markets, putting things online and creating more value, requiring a new way of thinking.

Ajay related that Intel has long talked about the merger of the work life and the live life, whereby the separation between work and personal life is dissolving.

“The pandemic was basically a manifestation of what’s probably going to happen eventually; work and personal time will all merged into one.”

He opined that SMEs should recognise what employees are going through and provide them the tools and capabilities to be productive.

Security concerns

As digitalisation picks up, with more online use security becomes an issue.

Aiza commented that in Budget 2021, RM27mil was allocated to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity environment, so hybrid working has become the new normal, but that also means increased cyberattacks.

Ajay cautioned that security is one of those things that many only consider investing in after “it is too late”.

“Hackers are forever innovating by the day and it is important to have a strategy no matter (the size of) your business.”

He advised SMEs to not take security as an afterthought – it should be the first thing to consider when setting up networks, employees and teams.

Yogesh raised the fact that when work shifted from offices to homes, individual networks are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“Security needs to be proactive. If the attack is there, someone or something needs to be there to shield that attack.”

Aiza brought up that price point has been the deterring factor for SMEs, to which Ling replied that trust has to be earned during online transactions.

“If a handful of customers find out that your product or platform is not secure and it goes viral, you might lose the entire business, ” he advised.

He also identified that hackers actually use SMEs who supply to big companies, as a backdoor to penetrate larger corporations and that the lack of security jeopardises the opportunity to work with these companies.

Sustainable goals

As sustainability is a key pillar in this year’s budget, the question of how organisations can play an active role in protecting the environment was raised.

Ling explained that sustainability is a way of future-proofing business and that it is not a “good-to-have” but a “need-to-have”.

“SMEs can start by looking at the environment, society and governance simultaneously, ” he said.

Ajay said that it is important to play a part even if it is a small business, simply by purchasing products from companies that believe in these values is a contribution.

This movement is for the benefit of the planet and the next generation.

“While larger organisations can have bigger strategies and a bigger impact, that doesn’t mean every one of us can’t do something about it.”

Yogesh pointed out that sustainability is one of the big pillars for HP as 30% of the company’s portfolio is on sustainable products.

He added that it is important to consider adopting a circular economy of eliminating wastes and the continual use of resources rather than just constantly buying.

The webinar concluded after a question and answer session with participants.

To watch the full session, visit the StarBiz Facebook page at

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