For SMEs to successfully transform, technology should be seen as an enabler rather than a disruptor to traditional ways of working.
“SMEs worry about both organisational changes and meeting customer expectations/demand that comes with growth. Coupled with the fast-evolving industry landscape and disruption from global events, this can hold SMEs back from embarking on growth or even going beyond ‘tried-and-tested’ business processes for fear of failure,” said Verena Siow, President & Managing Director, SouthEast Asia, SAP, in an interview with iTNews Asia.
To enhance their agility and resilience, Siow added that SMEs need to have a targeted focus on data and specific digital technologies to support their long-term strategy, particularly to better understand and meet the needs of their customers and employees.
Three steps they can take include organising the business to become more agile, putting their people at centre of business processes and organisational structure and becoming more data driven.
“It’s crucial that SMEs look for solutions that are scalable with their growth plans, so these can be expanded or enhanced in line with the organisation’s needs,” said Siow.
Factors that hinder a SME’s growth
In a recent SAP Oxford Economics study, SAP found that a third of SMEs faced the largest hurdles on upskilling/reskilling of their current workforce, inability to gain insights from data and difficulty in meeting employee demands.
Other factors that hinder growth progress include the difficulty in keeping up with the quickening evolution of the external environment, such as changing customer wants and needs, difficulty adapting to rapidly changing marketplace, difficulty retaining customers or driving repeat business, and also difficulty in competing for skilled talent
To help SMEs to overcome these challenges, Siow said SAP recently launched RISE with SAP, a Business Transformation as-a-Service which helps businesses improve savings, speed, and decisions all across the company by breaking down silos and integrating data, intelligent tech, and ERP software on one platform and data mode.
“One key learning we’ve seen from businesses who have successfully risen above crises are those that have pivoted early on, instead of having a ‘wait and see’ approach towards technology adoption,” she said.
“While competition for skilled talent continues to intensify, the best things for businesses to do is to nurture and upskill their own workforce, and bring out the talent that already resides within their organisation.”
To help develop talent in the region, SAP has launched SuccessFactors, a digital Human Capital Management (HCM) solution that helps organisations shift from transactional human capital management to end-to-end experiences.
SAP is also working with the ASEAN Foundation on various fronts, including the ASEAN Data Science Explorers competition, which calls for a data-driven proposals and trains youths on SAP’s Analytics Cloud.
To-date, the competition has educated more than 16,000 young people across 370 institutes of higher learning in the 10 ASEAN countries to increase their digital literacy and cultivate a greater sense of responsibility and ownership of the region’s future.
A global programme, SAP’s University Alliances (UA), aims to build the talent of the future and has seen SAP partnering with more than 3,500 institutions in over 113 countries.