Use technology to your advantage

Valuable insights: (from left) Teh, Soon, Azlina and P’ng urge SMEs to leverage technology to grow their business.

Valuable insights: (from left) Teh, Soon, Azlina and P’ng urge SMEs to leverage technology to grow their business.

DIGITALISATION is no longer an option but a necessity for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to grow their business.

SMEs should adopt technology and utilise it to their advantage, said Digi head of business marketing and operations Steven Soon.

“Cost or funding is an ultimate challenge for majority of the SMEs but it should not be a roadblock for them to start embracing technology. Like it or not, our SMEs need to start changing their mindset for their own good, they should look at the long-term gains and benefits for them, ’’ he said.

Soon was one of the three panellists who shared his thoughts during a panel discussion, titled “Engine of Growth”, at the SOBA LAB workshop at The Trove Hotel Johor Baru last Thursday.

According to Soon, it is okay for companies to start with small efforts in order to grow big at a later stage. He added that digitalisation and technology should be a part of the company’s growing process.

“There is no other choice as the way forward for businesses in today’s borderless world is to go digital, ’’ he said.

The other panellists were PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd chief operating officer P’ng Tean Hau and RHB Bank Bhd head of commercial banking Azlina Safian. Johor South SME Association advisor Teh Kee Sin moderated the session.

P’ng encouraged SMEs to also fully utilise social media platforms as a marketing tool to promote their products or services.

“Business owners should not undermine the power of social networking as it is able to reach a wider audience in almost all parts of the world, ’’ he said.

Social media, he added, is also one of the most effective ways to engage with employees, as PKT has done for many years.

“It is mandatory for our 900 employees to have a Facebook (FB) account and those planning to join us must also have an FB account as hiring is done via FB.

“It makes our organisation very open and our employees happy. Happy employees contribute to better productivity and a more conducive working environment, ’’ said P’ng.

However, the company closely monitors its account to ensure that there are no postings of hate speech or racial and sensitive issues.

Meanwhile, Azlina advised SMEs to do a yearly cash flow projection as it would help them better plan their operations especially when facing financial difficulties.

“Cash flow projection is essential to every kind of business regardless of their size and SMEs are no exception, ’’ she said.

Azlina said this would help SMEs, particularly those who have plans to expand as banks would look at their financial performance records before approving their loan applications.

“SMEs have the potential to grow big in the future as many of the big companies in the country started small, ’’ she said.

Apart from sound financial management, Azlina said SMEs should also keep track of the trends in the business world and to observe what their competitors are doing.

She also advised SMEs to immediately approach banks when they face cash flow problems, instead of waiting to the “very last minute”.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) bumiputera development and products senior vice president Mohamed Azman Mohamed Taufik noted that one of the biggest challenges for SMEs and starts-ups is to get bank loans.

“They can go to www.imsme.com.my and we will provide advisory and assistance to them. One of the main issues why loan applications by SMEs are rejected by banks is because most of them don’t have collateral and transaction records.

“We would like to advise them to look into these as proper documentations will mean better chances of getting loans, ’’ said Azman.

The other speakers at SOBA LAB were Salutary Avenue Group director Azman Abu Naim, Oxwhite founder CK Chang, Muzart International Sdn Bhd director Daphne Teh and DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd director Dr Yeong Che Fai.

The final SOBA LAB session will take place on Aug 8 from 9am to 4.30pm at Lexis Suites, Penang. Those interested to attend the workshop will need to register at bit.ly/SOBALAB@19.

The workshop is free of charge but participants are encouraged to register as seats are limited and on a first-come-first-served basis.

SOBA 2019 is organised by STAR MEDIA GROUP BHD with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation as co-sponsor and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation as official trade promotion partner.

It is endorsed by International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO with dimsum as official media partner.

For more information on SOBA 2019, call The Star Events Business Unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1857 (Pei Wen) or visit www.soba.com.my

Source : The Star Online