Innovating for SMEs in the current digital landscape

This story first appeared in Microsoft.

Malaysia SME featured a byline article on how Microsoft is driving transformation with Malaysian SME organizations.The article is authored by Azizah Ali, Director for Small and Mid-Market Solutions and Partner Group for Microsoft Malaysia. Read the print version here

2017 is the year of Internet Economy for Malaysia. We are at the cusp of our new age digital revolution today. Technology innovations and data insights are making businesses more agile. SMEs account for majority of business establishments (97.3%) in Malaysia. So, as we go along, a large chunk of new technology adoption will be driven by SMEs.

However, the reality is rather grim. As per Malaysia Productivity Corporation, ICT adoption by SMEs in Malaysia is a mere 10 per cent. This is in stark contrast with other developed countries where the adoption stands at 50 per cent.

In this era of Big Data Analytics and IoT, it is vital for SMEs to stay abreast with latest trends to capitalize on the digital wave.  At Microsoft, we are constantly striving to make technology accessible and affordable for SMEs to maintain their competitive edge.

A fine example of this is Doctor2U – an on-demand mobile health services app that adopted Azure for its cloud computing platform. They utilized it for app service, database and storage needs. Doctor2U also used Azure’s Chat Bot (Conversation-as-a-Platform) to improve their Live Chat feature. It enabled their business to upscale quickly and added layer of trust and reliability with its enhanced security features. Azure is HIPAA compliant and has more certifications that any other cloud provider today.

We understand that SMEs often face manpower shortages, lack of security and high costs are among their primary concerns. Microsoft Azure operates on a “pay as you go, scale as your business grow” concept. It offers the benefits of scale, speed, and agility and is designed with strong backup and disaster recovery mechanisms.

We want to show SMEs that digital transformation need not be a difficult and lengthy process. It can be a simple and cost saving endeavor and there are many examples of businesses that have benefitted from our tools. One such SME is Nando’s, that adopted Microsoft Cloud; ranging from Power BI to Azure and Office 365, to enhance its efficiency and operations.

Nando’s uses Power BI to gather real time business insights with data analytics powered by Azure. These insights enable critical and timely decisions. For instance, the team can view in real time the sale of chickens, which branch needs more workers and make these business decisions without waiting for 1 month sales report to boost operations.

Skype for Business enables seamless collaboration and better coordination among the management team that visit various outlets daily and are always on the go. Migrating to our Cloud platform also resulted in cost reduction and improved their processes.

Our suite of Office 365 has long been an important productivity tool for Malaysian SMEs, even those operating in traditional industries. New features are rolled out to Office 365 customers regularly and they do not need to pay for upgrades. The recent addition to this suite is Microsoft Bookings that is designed for SMEs to bring in business 24/7.

Bookings helps business owners save time by reducing the amount of scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments, for both customers and employees. With a few steps, a business owner sets up an online booking page which their customers can use to make appointments online, 24/7 from anywhere. SMEs work very fast with demanding customers; thus, this tool is a great fit to accommodate their needs for quick turnaround and action when it comes to securing an appointment or a business opportunity.

With such diverse technologies and platforms at their disposal, SMEs ought to be curious and need to embrace the digital age we live in. Technology is an important catalyst for growth and can be their biggest enabler to enhance business operations. In the context of the SME Masterplan 2012-2020, there is tremendous opportunity for them to contribute to the digital economy. In this journey, we will continue being their trusted advisors, build on our partnership to foster innovation and grow their business to be digital ready.

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