There is an inherent need for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to transform their business and ride on the digital wave, opined experts participating at the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) Digitise Asean 2017 conference. The digital economy will potentially add USD1 trillion (SGD1.4 trillion) to the GDP of the Association of Southeast nations (Asean) by 2025.
Experts also said SMEs can adopt technology in a bid to prevent their businesses from being disrupted.
Chua Soon Ghee, head of South-east Asia at global management consulting firm AT Kearney, said, “While travel, retail, communications and financial services have been heavily disrupted by new technology, there is still a huge base of companies in various sectors that need to level up their digital skills to keep pace with the rapid change.”
Speaking about SMEs, Sanchita Basu Das, fellow and lead researcher (economics) at the Asean Studies Centre, Iseas, said, “SMEs are the backbone of most of the economies in Asean. They typically account for 90 to 95 per cent of companies in a country and contribute to around 40 to 50 per cent of GDP.”
Urging SMEs to adopt the modern digital technology to be in the race, she said, “If they (SMEs) are not keeping themselves abreast of this new technology, they may suffer.”
Speaking about digitalisation, guest-of-honour Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development, said digitalisation is catalysing growth in many industries and transforming the nature of work and jobs. We have identified e-commerce and other initiatives relating to the digital economy as potential key priorities. The digital economy is a new focus area under Asean Economic Community 2025, and there is interest among Asean member states to develop their e-commerce capabilities.”
He added, “E-commerce is the new reality for businesses and Singapore will work with the rest of Asean to streamline regional trade rules governing e-commerce to promote greater digital connectivity and lower operating barriers to entry.”