How can businesses digitalize themselves to prepare for today’s world? | Source: Shutterstock

Keeping your business at the forefront of digitalization

ONE of the major ways for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to differentiate and be successful in today’s competitive business climate, is to place their employees at the forefront of digitalization.

According to a poll from Microsoft last year, which covered 14 Asian markets, including Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, 84 percent of business leaders in Southeast Asia acknowledge the need to transform into a digital business in order to succeed.

In many Asian countries, most notably in Singapore and Malaysia, governments have been lending a helping hand to keep local SMEs competitive through digitalization.

For instance, it has recently been announced that the Malaysian government is making profound efforts to help their SME’s adapt to e-commerce. Through partnerships with the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom), they aim to provide SMEs with access to technology enablers who can provide support with things such as payment gateways and logistics.

So, it is clear that there is a need for businesses to digitalize their businesses in order to stay relevant and competitive in today’s market. But what does it actually mean to digitalize your business model? Microsoft has defined what it means to transform, in four key points:

Engage customers

Today consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, with the ability to educate themselves on a product or service before engaging. So, in order to stand out, businesses will need to deliver contextual and personalized experiences, while balancing security and user trust.

Empower the employees

With technology comes the power of mobility. Organizations everywhere now have the ability to empower their employees by helping them do their jobs better, allowing them to collaborate from any place, on any device, with access to the programs and data they need- all while mitigating security risks.

Optimize operations

The introduction of tech such as the Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionizing the operations of many businesses through optimization. For instance, a mountain of data can be gathered across a wide set of endpoints, from which insights can be extracted to help make improvements.

Organizations from a wide range of industries such as manufacturing, retail, and healthcare, can shift from merely reacting to events to responding in real time. Organizations even have the ability to predict future problems before they occur.

Transformation of products and business models

The ability to embed software and technology into products and services is vastly evolving how organizations deliver value to their customers.

An example of a company which is well ahead in its digital transformation journey is Asiawide Print Holdings, a Singapore-based printing service.

Asiawide switched from an on-premise server to Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based platform. This transformation led to a more efficient collaboration between employees without the presence of the company’s chief executive Picasso Terrence Hong, who also doubles as the company’s only IT support person.

“Ever since adopting cloud technology, we have become a more effective and efficient company. As we continue to set our sights on expansion in the region, having a robust IT infrastructure will enable us to build even deeper relationships with our customers and help us drive our business forward,” Hong told The Business Times.