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SharlizaBintiMohdHaris, Head, SME Value Propositions, Solutions and Campaigns, unifi Business, Telekom Malaysia
According to the latest data from the Malaysian Department of Statistics, 97.4 percent of business establishments in Malaysia in 2021 were made up of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), comprising more than1,226,000 businesses in total.
This number has grown considerably at 5.2 percent per annum, a stark increase of 140,000 new businesses since 2016. Representing the largest pool of business establishments in Malaysia, MSMEs play a critical role in propelling Malaysia’s economy forward. For example, MSMEs contributed 37.4 percent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021, and historically, SMEs’ GDP growth has always been higher than Malaysia’s GDP.
The recent pandemic, however, caused many smaller MSMEs to be among the first businesses in Malaysia to face adverse economic impact. Many closed their doors for good, while others were forced to diversify from their core business in order to survive. As the country moves towards economic recovery, MSMEs must now also progressively advance. To revitalise their businesses post Covid-19, it is now more crucial than ever for MSMEs to review their strategic plans and operating models.
To remain competitive in a digital era and align with today’s customer expectations, MSMEs must digitally transform either parts or their entire business operations, shifting their businesses towards digital and online platforms in order to remain relevant.
MSMEs have begun to embrace this change, and in EY’s 2022 Business Pulse Survey: Living with Covid-19 and Winning Together, 78 percent of MSMEs reported that they are prepared to live with the pandemic, while 68 percent planned to adopt digitalisation as their future business direction. 51 percent, however, indicated that they would require support in upgrading their digital technology.
Although digital transformation is crucial to spur the growth of MSMEs, unifi Business discovered several critical barriers during the empathy segment of its design thinking planning with MSMEs. For one, almost all MSME business owners experienced similar digitalisation obstacles.
Among the key barriers that MSMEs face when adopting digitalisation are:
• Lack of resources: Most MSMEs have limited resources, usually operating with one to five people to manage their business.
• Lack of financial capabilities: MSMEs do not have the right tools to manage their capital efficiently and often lack access to capital and credit facilities.
• Lack of skillsets: MSMEs lack managerial and technical expertise, as well as limited know-how of new technologies. Furthermore, due to their limited resources, they have insufficient time to acquire new digital capabilities and skills.
For MSMEs to transition and take advantage of the benefits of digitalisation, it is essential to equip them via a comprehensive ecosystem. Serving over 400,000 MSMEs in Malaysia, unifi Business has established three key pillars to enable their digital success. These pillars encompass a unified ecosystem of solutions, support and SME Community, ensuring that MSMEs are guided every step of the way in their digital transformation journey.
Affordable, needs based solutions
MSMEs often require simple yet effective tools to ease their digital adoption journey. unifi Business’ design thinking approach ensures that solutions are developed based on MSMEs’ needs, and consists of a unified ecosystem built on consultation, connectivity and digital solutions which help MSMEs manage and market their businesses digitally.
These solutions include:
1. Cloud storage: unifi Business’ flexible, safe and scalable data storage solution helps MSMEs to manage the tedious tasks of storing valuable information. Hosted locally at TM’s Data Centres, cloud storage offers a secure home for important files and information. With options for multiple users and the flexibility to increase storage space and the number of users, MSMEs have the flexibility to scale up their storage as their businesses grow. Starting from 500Gb to 5Tb, users can access their storage via mobile or desktop apps, managing important documents from anywhere and improving collaboration.
2. e-Commerce hub: Through TM’s e-Commerce hub, MSMEs can synchronize their offline and online platforms, manage product inventories and orders, monitor sales and revenue within a single, user-friendly platform. MSMEs can also save time in managing multiple social media inquiries by responding to them from a single platform. Recognising that MSMEs may have limited technical know-how, this platform comes with an interactive e-Commerce website with built-in customisable templates, as well as online payment and delivery partner services. All of these will help MSMEs to connect and maximise growth opportunities seamlessly, while having more time to drive their business profitability.
With more than 600 sales consultants across the country, of whom 300 have received International Digital skills certification, MSMEs will be provided end-to-end guidance as they equip themselves for their digital transformation.”
3. Cybersecurity: As online transactions and interactions become the new normal, customers' personal information and business data must be protected from numerous cyber threats. One of the key challenges faced by MSMEs is managing the impact of cybersecurity attacks to their business. As such, unifi Business has partnered with a world-leading cybersecurity provider to help MSMEs secure their businesses against cyber threats. With an easy-to-use “set and forget” security system, the solution protects multiple operating systems across various PCs and laptops, mobile devices and file servers, and secures valuable files and documents. It is also equipped with built-in vulnerability scanning to ensure apps are safe from intrusion, and file encryption and back- ups are activated to secure businesses’ intellectual property. Easy-to-deploy for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, the solution provides always-on-security for always-on-businesses, enabling MSMEs to rest assured that their devices and information are well protected, so that they can focus on driving their business growth, regardless of the organisation’s level of technical capabilities.
For the average entrepreneur, new digital technologies may often be a challenge to grasp, especially when their time and focus is spent delivering their products and services. To address this gap, unifi Business has established a nationwide support system to guide MSMEs in their digitalisation journey. With more than 600 sales consultants across the country, of whom 300 have received International Digital skills certification, MSMEs will be provided end-to-end guidance as they equip themselves for their digital transformation.
These dedicated unifi Business consultants across the country provide free training for local MSMEs to improve their digital skillsets while unifi’s SME corners located at 84 TM Point outlets nationwide also showcase digital solutions that MSMEs can leverage.
unifi Business has also established enablement programs to accelerate MSMEs digital capabilities, including free localised digital master classes and usage webinars.