MDEC: 54% of SMEs on digital journey this year

Those that started adopting digitalisation intend to focus on front-end operations


SOME 54% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have embarked on the digital journey this year amid the pandemic, a survey by Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) revealed.

MDEC COO Datuk Ng Wan Peng said many of those SMEs that have started adopting digitalisation intend to focus on front-end operations such as digital presence and marketing.

All in all, she said 90% of SMEs are aware of the importance of digital solutions to increase their productivity and generate more sales.

“Many Malaysian businesses need us (MDEC) to go out, talk to and handhold them. We run a lot of classes, accelerator programmes to help them embark on their digitalisation journey,” Ng said in a virtual roundtable hosted by Boost e-wallet yesterday.

However, 18% of the SMEs still have not entered into digitalisation. She said one challenge to get more SMEs onboard digitalisation is the lack of talent in SMEs despite the availability of access to good physical infrastructure and funding.

SME Association of Malaysia national VP Chin Chee Seong (picture) said it will take some time for micro-SMEs and SMEs to adopt digitalisation.

Besides the capital, he said the mindset of SMEs is one factor that needs to be addressed, while increasing the awareness about digitalisation within the business community.

“Most of the SMEs have understood now what digitalisation is all about and how they are going to take it forward. But to embark on a digitalisation journey is not as simple as you want to do it now,” Chin said in the roundtable.

Boost CEO Mohd Khairil Abdullah said the company is aiming at making it very easy for micro-SMEs to do their business, evidently during the pandemic time when online and digital solutions enable businesses and transactions to continue.

He said Boost thrives to provide low barriers to entry, ease of adoption and affordability for micro-SMEs and SMEs to be digitally-enabled.

“Three components that we typically have in our digitalisation programme are cashless payment tools via the e-wallet, micro-financing and support for businesses to go from offline to online,” Mohd Khairil said.

He said online-related payments grew by 2.2 times in three months since the start of the Movement Control Order across the platform, adding that the shift to digitalisation is accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The digitalisation of SMEs in Malaysia could contribute between RM79 billion and RM99 billion to the country’s GDP by 2024, a study conducted by Cisco Malaysia found.

According to the 2020 Asia Pacific SME Digital Maturity Study, 64% of SMEs are considering digital platforms to bring new products and services to the market compared to 33% last year.

Additionally, 59% recognised that competition is transforming and they must keep pace, while 43% said they are transforming due to demand from customers,” the study said.

Cisco Malaysia MD Albert Chai said given that 98.5% of all businesses are SMEs and contribute 38.3% to the country’s GDP, it makes them a critical component to the trade and commercial landscape.

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