(Source: www.sgsme.sg)

Business owners of small and medium enterprises need to change their mindsets and ramp up their adoption of technology, speakers at the “Transformation Now” seminar said on Thursday (May 18).

But how SMEs from each sector do this will vary. “The SME landscape is not a uniform one, and each industry has its own unique characteristics and challenges,” said Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Sim Ann, delivering the keynote address.

The government’s Industry Transformation Maps are thus “intended to provide customised strategies to facilitate our businesses in their respective transformation journeys by raising productivity, accelerating innovation, diversifying and expanding overseas, and upskilling our workers,” said Ms Sim, who is also Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth.

SMEs (small and medium enterprise) play a substantial role in shaping the future economic development trajectory of Singapore and sustaining the country’s competitiveness as global competition intensifies.

They account for 99 per cent of the enterprises in Singapore and contribute nearly half of gross domestic product (GDP) while employing 70 per cent of the workforce. Multinational corporations and government-linked companies employ the majority of high-quality labour force, leading to lack of high-quality labour for SMEs.

Tan Khee Giap, associate professor and co-director of the Asia Competitiveness Institute at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, emphasised the importance of developing local networks and understanding local practices.

Speaking on the regional competitiveness of Singapore businesses, Prof Tan announced the Enterprise Future Initiative (EFI), an effort by the Asia Competitiveness Institute to work in conjunction with trade associations and business chambers.

EFI aims to help enterprises build strong digital capabilities to innovate and to scale up, by taking advantage of resources provided under the seven broad strategies advocated by the Committee on the Future Economy report.

The panel discussion, moderated by Business Times’ senior correspondent R Sivanithy, covered what it takes to change businesses.

Derrick Kon, regional director of The Conference Board, said: “The seminar shed light on an issue that is very relevant to businesses today, and shows the importance of keeping up with the times.

“Businesses need to get themselves ready for the changing landscape, and start using technology to better their businesses.”

Government initiatives to help SMEs were also highlighted at the seminar. These included the Industry Transformation Maps currently being developed, as well as the SMEs Go Digital programme, which is being implemented by the Info-communications Media Development Authority of Singapore and other agencies such as Spring Singapore.

The SME Digital Tech Hub, which will open in the third quarter of 2017, will offer specialist advice to SMEs on issues such as cybersecurity and data analytics.

More Info: www.sgsme.sg