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Malaysian SMEs advised to deploy tech to boost business

Image Credits: The Star Online, News Article

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must integrate technology into all aspects of their businesses for sustained growth, say, industry experts, according to the Chief Business Officer of Malaysia’s largest network and panellist at the SOBA LAB’s Engine of the Growth panel discussion, a recent report noted.

He noted that a common hurdle is the mindset that technology adoption is costly, or that it is not the right time due to current market conditions.

While companies, in general, understand the importance of technology in their businesses, smaller companies might not know where to begin.

SMEs have been advised to break down the complexities around digitisation by looking into what they want to achieve and implement small projects to pave the way for further technology adoption.

The CBO stated that if SMEs take it one step at a time, the journey is less harrowing. He suggested that they find small projects that prove that technology helps save costs and creates value for their companies. Used correctly, it can help grow the business.

The panel discussion was moderated by Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia Secretary-General, also included several leading industry players. The panellists all agreed that SMEs are often hampered by the lack of a track record and data when seeking financing, but stressed that technology can help in cash flow management and will help them become more bankable.

It was noted that SMEs need to realise early that they have to forecast cash flow on a yearly basis. It may be painful that banks ask for cash flow projection, but it encourages diligence in knowing the areas that will impact it.

Cash flow crunch often happens when payment is delayed, which is why SMEs must constantly keep an eye on the financials to prepare for any eventuality that may occur, in order to stay the tide during yearly non-peak periods. Technology can play a key role in enabling them to prepare for these cash flow cycles.

Another panellist, on the other hand, focused on the role of culture in organisations as a differentiator in talent management. He stated that culture sets the standards and guidelines for what is acceptable in the organisation. It needs to be taught and encouraged continuously, with supervisors walking the talk for the rest to follow.

Enabling usage of major social media platforms for work sets the tone for open and effective communication and a direct feedback loop for improvement, as well as positive productive impact. In the long run, this can help shape the culture of a company from within.

Attendees to SOBA LAB PJ also obtained insights from academics and other high-ranking persons. In addition, attendees were able to learn about navigating the financial maze for growing businesses and were also offered a series of free capacity building workshops. The event is endorsed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI.

OpenGov Asia recently covered a study conducted by a global leader in enterprise technology for finance and human resources found that Malaysian companies are leading in the Asia Pacific in terms of quantifying the return from their digital transformation initiatives.

The numbers show that 58% of C-Level executives are seeing measurable returns. Comparatively, only 47% of companies in Singapore and 34% in Japan have seen returns.

When looking at the key challenges to digital transformation, almost half (49%) of C-level executives in Malaysia see organisational silos as a key challenge – an environment where a company’s departments do not share operational information with one another.

Thus, investments in technology can help companies disassemble information silos and reimagine the business in a way that allows an organisation to stay competitive in a disrupt-or-be-disrupted world.

The advent of cloud technology in Financial and HR management will allow business planning to be more strategic, collaborative and real-time, especially if brought together in one single system for maximum benefit.

The main takeaway from the research is that there is a lack of collaboration and integration among different functions across the region. Digital transformation requires strong support from the top and close collaboration among team members, from HR and Finance to IT and digital teams.

Moreover, key investment in the right technologies will help both increase employee and finance visibility and drive cross-departmental collaboration, accelerating digital transformation success.

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