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For SMEs, the future is digital

last updated 24 May 2017

A plethora of ICM solutions to help SMEs on their digital journey were unveiled at the inaugural SMEs Go Digital industry briefing.

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Local enterprises can choose from 50 pre-approved tech solutions to embark on their digital transformation journey.

By Suresh Nair

The longer-term strategy for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to stay ahead of global competition is simple and straightforward: Transform digitally.

“We believe every business needs to be a digital business to remain relevant and thrive in the future economy,” said Mr Tan Kiat How (below), Chief Executive of the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). As part of the SMEs Go Digital programme, IMDA offers customised help from funding and consultancy to pre-qualifying tech products and participation in joint pilots.

20170523 smes go 2Close to 500 participants were invited to hear the digital opportunities available at the inaugural SMEs Go Digital industry briefing on 11 May organised by IMDA. Among those present were ICM solution providers, partners from Trade Association and Chambers (TACs), Singapore Institute of Technology and Frost & Sullivan, as well as public sector organisations such as SPRING Singapore, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Personal Data Protection Commission, Cyber Security Agency and Workforce Singapore.

At the briefing, IMDA announced 50 pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs under the programme. “These solutions were identified with the help of relevant government agencies, and have been tried and tested by pilot SME users. We encourage SMEs to make full use of these digital solutions in their digitalisation efforts,” said Mr Tan.

Mr Philip Heah, Senior Director (Infrastructure and SMEs) of IMDA, added, “The awarded ICM suppliers have displayed clear business appreciation and acumen in their respective industries. Their digital solutions have the potential to scale and are proven to be of value.”

Digital-journey package

The SMEs Go Digital programme – launched in April 2017 to provide an all-rounded support to help SMEs’ overall levels of digital readiness – offers curated advice on using technology to stay ahead of global challenges.

It aims to defray the cost of technology purchases. Notably, it will improve on a seven-year-old iSprint scheme, which provided similar support and basic tech advice. More than 8,000 SMEs have benefitted from iSprint.

IMDA’s strategy involves partnering influential companies to pilot sector-specific solutions that have the potential to scale instead of supporting disparate pilot projects by SMEs. The key identified sectors include retail, food services, logistics and cleaning.

One example is retail store Robinsons, which integrated some 200 SME suppliers on a common e-procurement platform for better sales planning and inventory management. Another one is StarHub, which offered about 1,000 SMEs in the F&B industry a comprehensive digital solution package, which bundles  its broadband services with IMDA pre-approved digital solutions such as retail analytics, digital ordering and payment.

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“We are pleased to partner IMDA to support SMEs’ adoption of digital tech solutions that will help them capture new business opportunities and improve their productivity. These 50 digital tech solutions will be made available on the Tech Depot at the SME Portal. We encourage SMEs to contact the pre-approved vendors for their expertise in the areas of customer management, data analytics, machine effectiveness and more,” said SPRING Singapore Chief Executive Mr Poon Hong Yuen.

Providing SMEs with well-rounded support at the early stages of their digital growth is crucial, and this programme goes a step further in supporting SMEs in the use of technology to boost their productivity. SMEs with digital capabilities will be guided on how to achieve internal efficiencies, cost reductions, and better service offerings for sustained growth in the digital economy.

Digital Tech Hub

Looking at more advanced needs such as cybersecurity, data analytics and artificial intelligence is also on the cards through a new SME Digital Tech Hub that will be set up by IMDA by the third quarter of this year. It complements business advisors in SME Centres, which provide basic advice on off-the-shelf digital solutions that are pre-approved for funding support. The hub will also help to connect SMEs to ICT vendors and consultants, and conduct workshops and seminars to help SMEs build their digital capabilities.

In addition, IMDA will also partner large corporations such as telecommunications companies, banks and professional firms to put together comprehensive digital solution packages for SMEs. This makes it more convenient for SMEs to adopt more complex digital solutions and reduce the hassle of having to manage multiple ICT vendors at the same time.

Mr Jason Lim, Chief Executive Officer of veriTAG, summed up the benefits of the briefing, “This industry briefing is useful to ICM suppliers like us as it allows us to network with other suppliers and perhaps even explore opportunities to collaborate and complement each other to deliver a more holistic digital solution for SMEs.”

ICM suppliers who are keen to have their digital solutions pre-approved under the SMEs Go programme can visit www.imda.gov.sg/smesgodigital for more details. For SMEs who are keen to adopt digital solutions, please contact the nearest SME Centre.  

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