IMDA CEO, Mr Tan Kiat How, addressing members of the industry at the second SMEs Go Digital briefing.
By Soh Keng Choo
SMEs stand to benefit from a suite of enhanced pre-approved digital solutions to aid their growth. This was one of the key announcements by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) at the second Industry Briefing for the SMEs Go Digital programme on 21 July.
IMDA also said it aims to progressively raise the standards of the pre-approved digital solutions for SMEs. Digital capabilities such as cybersecurity and data protection will also be gradually included as part of the evaluation criteria.
“To enable our SMEs to continually benefit from innovative digital solutions, we will progressively raise the standards of the pre-approved digital solutions under the SMEs Go Digital Programme and catalyse the development of digital platforms that provide them access to advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics,” said Mr Tan Kiat How, Chief Executive, IMDA, at the briefing, which was attended by more than 500 infocomm and media (ICM) industry players.
Since April 2017, the SMEs Go Digital programme has been supporting SMEs in using digital technologies to boost productivity and build digital capabilities. So far, over 100 SMEs have adopted 24 pre-approved digital solutions offered under the programme, generating over $2.4 million in revenue for ICM suppliers.
One such ICM vendor is Gamurai, which enhances the productivity of the hair and beauty salon value chain. “The first thing we need to do is to change the mindset of small salon owners,” said Mr Woo Sze Ming, Gamurai’s founder. “It is a compelling story when small salon owners can see that the technologies offered in the programme are more sophisticated than most of the technologies used by bigger salons.”
“When the mindset changes, a salon owner then decides to bring the business into the digital age and connect with an increasingly tech-savvy younger clientele,” said Mr Woo. “I feel a lot of personal satisfaction when that happens.”
With 90% of salons in Singapore still being managed with pen and paper, the digitalisation potential is tremendous.
IMDA also announced the appointment of the Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (ASME) to operate the new SME Digital Tech Hub, which is set to open its doors later this year.
The new SME Digital Tech Hub will complement the business advisory services offered at SME Centres by providing specialist digital technology advisory services to SMEs with more advanced digital needs in the areas of data analytics and cybersecurity.
IMDA also highlighted that it would develop sector-specific Industry Digital Plans (IDP) for six priority sectors, namely Retail, Logistics, Food Services, Wholesale Trade, Cleaning and Security. It plans to roll out the first two IDPs, which will be for the Retail and Logistics sectors, later this year. These IDPs will complement the current industry transformation maps. SMEs from these sectors will be guided to deploy digital technology at different stages of their growth and progressively acquire advanced digital capabilities.
“IMDA will support this national transformation effort as a chief digital officer,” said Mr Tan. “It is all about empowering our valuable human capital with game-changing technology to compete in the global market. In the longer term, the digital economy will become one of the key drivers of Singapore’s growth.”
In the coming months, IMDA will host industry consultation sessions to solicit input for the Retail and Logistics IDPs. As a broader objective, IMDA aims to uplift whole sectors by working with influential partners to deploy pilot solutions with potential to scale.
ICM suppliers can visit www.imda.gov.sg/smesgodigital to have their digital solutions pre-approved under the programme. SMEs can contact the nearest SME Centre for more information on relevant digital solutions.