Why Malaysian SMEs need to take the next step towards big data

DATA-DRIVEN businesses are among the core elements of a digitally transformative economy. Which is perhaps why governments often push their industrial giants to adopt big data.

Thanks to the advent of high computing power and robust network capabilities, businesses can now gather, analyze, and gain valuable insights from data to make better business decisions and solve industry problems.

In Malaysia, small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) have to be bold towards pursuing that goal to be data-driven, a panel said recently.

“SMEs are ready for big data, but they must be brave to take that next step. Big data, technology, transformation; these are big words that may sound overwhelming, but if you think about it, data is just a way for you to keep track of information,” said Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) CEO Surina Shukri.

Speaking at a panel discussion at a local forum called, “Discover New Business Opportunities Through Big Data,” Surina added that it is high time that SMEs in Malaysia prioritize adoption of emerging technology, not merely as a part of their digital transformation agenda, but as a business strategy.

Big Data: A continuous journey

The panelists rightfully pointed out that implementing big data technology is a journey that companies should embark on, to achieve greater operational efficiency and enhance growth.

This is because the technology isn’t just about large sets of data, instead, it’s about variety which introduces new dimensions and depth to insights that SMEs could capitalize on.

For instance, with the right analytics tools, insights could be used to upsell and cross-sell, enhance market segmenting for improved marketing campaign efficiency, or even uncover new market opportunities.

Besides, having a diverse set of data also enables better market forecasting and price optimizations, which then enhances the customer experience.

Another member of the panel, Malaysia Retail Chain Association Deputy Secretary-General Bruce Lim meanwhile said that only 8 percent of Malaysian retailers had embraced digitalization, which leaves a lot of room for growth and improvements.

“It is still in its infancy even though there is a lot of data. It is when you are able to go down to the ground and engage companies that are fire fighting day-to-day issues, that will bring change.

“The key is whether you have a fixed or growth mindset,” said Lim.

And investing in the right technology as well as upskilling the current workforce toward adopting big data requires time and resources, which may be why companies are slow to integrate the technology, explained Lim.

And thus, leaders, according to the panelists, should be responsible for fostering the right culture and mindset that are open to innovative ideas.

“A leader has to be thinking: ‘am I making data-driven decisions?’ Nothing happens until the top understands. It is not about a digital transformation strategy, but what is your business strategy in a digital world.” quipped Surina.

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