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‘Standing by our SMEs’ and the urgent need to build a ‘digital first’ workforce
Published:  Jun 22, 2021 9:37 AM
Updated: 1:37 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 June 2021 – Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have a lot to gain from embracing digital technologies (digitalisation) into their existing business models, which would improve productivity while opening up new revenue streams.

According to the University Consortium of Malaysia, SME productivity was boosted significantly through digitalisation – using social media saw SMEs experience a 26% increase in productivity, and e-commerce saw SME productivity increase by 27%. On a more advanced level, using digital technologies for the backend such as data management solutions could increase SME productivity by up to 60%.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the urgency for greater digitisation among the SME community is greater than ever to ‘survive and thrive in the new norm’.

JobStreet country manager Simran Kaur emphasised that digitisation is a critical element for business continuity while having a ‘digital first’ workforce is just as critical for SMEs.

The current acceleration of Malaysia’s vaccination programme should also result in the gradual return of consumer confidence. However, spending will only recover as fast as the rate at which people feel confident about becoming mobile again.

“Given this uncertain period, SMEs should use this opportunity to digitally transform their business models. First, they would need to know where to start, before building a digital strong workforce to accelerate transformation,” said Simran.

The importance of business continuity

A recent SAP study concluded that providing positive customer experiences through digitisation has become a top strategic consideration throughout Southeast Asia.

SAP Malaysia Sdn Bhd managing director Hong Kok Cheong said that the MCO has changed the way businesses operate, and in increasing the accuracy and accessibility of data, information management, and reporting analysis.

“Regardless of industry, businesses must embrace true business transformation into intelligent enterprises while keeping in mind that customers are the lifeline to survival and sustainable growth,” said Hong.

“More than anything else, technology enables business continuity for organisations and supports them with the ability to respond to individual customer needs, engage talent in new ways and create disruptive business models that are critical industry imperatives.”

The need to accelerate digitisation

Although the benefits of digitisation are apparent, the adoption rate within the SME community has not been encouraging. According to the SME Association of Malaysia, only 26% of SMEs had chosen digitalisation or e-commerce platforms as their strategy to survive post-pandemic. In the same study, 57% of respondents had not yet embarked on digitalisation, with fewer than half of them planning to do so within six months.

While digitalisation of front-end business processes, such as e-commerce and web development, has taken off, an EY survey indicated 84% of Malaysian SMEs continued to face challenges in terms of online connectivity and communication with customers and suppliers.

“Fast-growing companies in emerging industries – such as e-commerce and ride-hailing – have benefited from making technology the core of their business models – especially since the pandemic,” said Simran.

Automation and the latest technologies have also disrupted the job market, in that traditional roles are fast disappearing, while roles involving the ‘workforce of the future are fast emerging.

Hence, attracting and retaining digitally savvy ‘best talent’ is equally as important.

In order to help SMEs with pursuing their digital transformation plans, JobStreet is launching a 3-part Webinar series titled ‘Driving Digital Transformation to Future-Proof Your Business’.

3-part Webinar series: ‘Driving Digital Transformation to Future-Proof Your Business’

The first Webinar, scheduled for 22 July 2021, will share insights to help SMEs assemble a digital transformation toolkit appropriate for their businesses through a high-powered panel discussion from industry leaders.

The second Webinar will be on creating a hybrid workplace while building your company’s future talent acquisition strategies, while the third Webinar will focus on creating an internal mobility strategy, providing advice on how to upskill and re-skill existing staff.

The Webinar on digitalisation is a move that industry thought leader Ganesh Kumar Bangah believes will be thoroughly welcomed by SMEs.

“Due to rising demand for digital tools and processes, there is an urgent need for Malaysians to appreciate the need to continuously upskill themselves with digital technologies, digital literacy, and transferable skills,” said Ganesh, who is also executive chairman of Commerce.Asia.

He believes that even post-pandemic, technological advancement would continue to grow significantly. “That said, people and their expertise are still much needed for decision-making and the communications process to protect and enhance brands, operations, customers and various stakeholders.”

The Webinars’ dealing with digital talent acquisition also come at an opportune time, as a 2019 report from EY noted that a lack of access to digital talent (64.7%) was one of the top three challenges that Southeast Asian SMEs face with digital transformation.

This challenge is also one that JobStreet, which is part of the SEEK Group, can assist SMEs with via FutureLearn, a public research university and the largest university in the UK for undergraduate education. FutureLearn is also one of the world’s most reputable open online course learning platforms, and as of June 2020, included 175 UK and international partners, including non-university partners.

Courses being offered include cybersecurity, programming, big data analytics and digital marketing, and organisations are encouraged to get their employees to enrol. The courses are free for both job seekers and also the currently employed (subject to one course per individual).

Webinar attendees would also be able to download the Decoding Global Talent 2020, one of the largest surveys ever of labour trends and work preferences (280,000 people in 190 countries) conducted jointly between the Boston Consulting Group and a network of online international recruitment companies such as JobStreet and JobsDB in this region.

To register for the webinar series, please click here.

Source: JobStreet

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