A networking solutions provider is the latest multinational to create a new way for Malaysia's small-and-medium sized enterprise (SME) and midmarket sectors to access opportunities created by the nation's burgeoning Digital Economy.
According to government agency SME Corp's 2016 report, Malaysia's SME sector accounts for almost 35.9 percent of Malaysia's GDP (gross domestic product) and 65.5 percent of the total workforce while offering a wider geographic footprint than some large enterprises.
Another step was the recent launch with the support of Alibaba's Jack Ma of Digital Free Trade Zone, which offers SMEs a major digital hub through which to expand. [See MDEC CEO Dato' Yasmin Mahmood on DFTZ's importance to the economy.)
However, SMEs still face basic challenges in financing and on boarding the latest technologies.
Spencer Yeoh (pic above), national assistant secretary general of the SME Association of Malaysia, at a recent meeting in Kuala Lumpur, said: "SMEs [do] realise the importance of digitisation. For them, it is either start or die. The digital economy is bringing about a world without borders. They must adopt ICT to survive if they want to be able to compete with businesses across the world, including those which have a higher ICT adoption rate, such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore."
"If SMEs want to start their digitisation journey, our advice to them is to not undertake big investments straightaway," said Yeoh. "Begin with small steps by starting with cloud adoption, then they can expand their investment as they grow."
A new model
Kevin Tai (pic below), risk director, Funding Societies, said, "It is important for SMEs to understand their business model and see where they can leverage technology to improve business operations. They should not resist change but think of a way of incorporating technological advances into their business model."
"Costs should not be a hindrance as there are a lot of avenues for financing out there," said Tai. "SMEs need to explore and educate themselves on the opportunities out there, ranging from government initiatives to entities like Funding Societies that fills the gap in financing."
Also present, Albert Chai (pic below), managing director, Cisco Malaysia, suggested: "Instead of working in silos, a cohesive partnership model is needed to support SMEs in their digital journey. It is not just a matter of funding but also providing them with the right technology and expertise as well to harness the full potential of digitisation."
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