Almost every big company around the world is embracing digitalisation and small medium enterprises (SMEs) are doing the same, accelerating the adoption of digital technologies to run their businesses in a more efficient way.
“Based on our observation, perhaps 50 to 80 percent of our SMEs customers are in the midst of digitalisation,” says Eugene Teh, the Chief Business Officer for Digi Telecommunications.
“We realise SMEs face issues. Usually, it’s because they don’t really know how to digitalise. Everyone is telling each other different things. For example, some are told to go into e-commerce first. Some are asked to build their own platform or website, but really how do they start?
"We realise SMEs face issues, and usually it’s because they don’t really know how to digitalise."
“Secondly, most SMEs asks themselves: ‘How am I going to pay for this? I don’t have a big amount of money to digitalise my company.’”
According to Teh, most companies tend to leave the digitalisation process to the Head of Information Technology (IT), however, he says: “It is not only the Head of IT’s job to do that. It’s supposed to be the whole company’s responsibility.”
“In fact, if anything, if I’m a business owner and I want to digitalise my business, it does not mean I immediately need a powerful computer and the latest smartphone to do that.
“For us, we would advise SMEs to think about digitalisation by starting from where the customers are interacting with your business - the sales process or the customer service process. Then, move to the backend, to where IT and other operations are. Always digitalise from the front to the back.”
As part of Digi Telecommunications efforts in diversifying its business, the company is looking at providing adjacent services; leaning towards being an internet and technology company as the telco seeks to remain relevant.
“I think it is an inevitable truth that our core business will continue to become more difficult to grow if we do not innovate and diversify our business. We will become less relevant to our customer base.
"We believe that if we start working with these SMEs and help them grow at this point, when they become big, we would have already established a strategic partnership and a relationship with them. So I think that's why we think it's also important for us in the future," says Teh.
For the past year, Digi has introduced a few products to cater to the needs for SMEs. Teh says: “As a telecommunication provider, we want to help SMEs digitise their businesses. The digitalisation process starts with communication.
“One of the products we provide is called Omni. It allows you to use the mobile phone in place of the fixed phone - but still maintaining the fixed line number. At the same time it allows you to have a virtual receptionist who will pick up a call."
“You can continue about your same working mode, anywhere you are. We allow you to become mobile in your business with some of these simple technologies,” says Teh.
Another product in their offering to help SMEs is called Krypto POS or Digi Cloud POS, an application that provides SMEs information on customers' behavioural patterns. This will enable businesses better position and know how to push their products.
“It is digitalising the whole process from the usage of the cash register to the printing receipts. This product can provide you data. For example, it can track the peak time when customers come (to the store) or the highest selling product at one given time. It allows business-owners to plan their resources better,”
The other latest product iFleet is a service for SMEs to track goods. Teh explains: “When move and deliver your goods right from the warehouse to your partner, or from your partner to your customers, iFleet can provide that information on a real-time basis.
“What is also good about this service is the ability for business owners to check driving behaviour too. It can tell you if the driver is exceeding the speed limit, run the traffic light, driving dangerously, jamming the brakes or making sharp corner turns.
“This is a preventive measure when in a situation where an accident actually happens, this product can reconstruct what really happened to help with the investigation. These are the simple things I believe can help SMEs manage and run their logistics effectively,” he says.
Now that Digi is aspiring to become an internet and technology company - more than just providing connectivity - Teh says the telco plans to work closely with bigger companies like Google and Dropbox.
“I think it is an inevitable truth, that our core business will continue to become more difficult to grow if we do not innovate and diversify our business, we become less relevant to our customer base."
“We know SMEs need to have cloud storage. We won’t say: ‘Come and store your data on our cloud and pay RM100 every month. We don’t need to do that because there are so many companies doing that already.
“What we need is to understand the business better so that we may bring that capability and product for our own customer base."
In future, Digi hopes to see partnerships among providers to strengthen and provide a full range of services to help the SME segment.
“We want to empower Malaysian businesses. There are huge opportunities for them (SMEs) to grow. This is how we create more pride for our local businesses.
“You will probably see another initiative in the future- we hope to launch soon. We want to champion in growing and supporting Malaysian businesses and Made in Malaysia products,” Teh ends.