Digitalisation gives S'pore SMEs an edge in S-E Asia, say panellists at seminar

SINGAPORE – Kitchen appliance maker Rotimatic and logistics company Ninja Van are among the many small firms that have ridden the digital wave to make a bigger business splash and expand into new markets, said a panellist at a tech forum on Friday (May 13).

“From tech start-ups to micro businesses, SMEs form the backbone of the Singapore economy,” said Mr Ben King, Google Singapore managing director and SGTech councillor.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, going online has been a necessity for the business continuity of SMEs across the region, including Singapore.”

He was speaking at a seminar on how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can tap technology and digitalisation to become more competitive in the South-east Asian market.

The seminar was organised by technology industry association SGTech and tech giant Google.

Speakers, including those from Google, the Infocomm Media Development Authority, software firm Thoughtworks and management consultant Bain & Company, addressed 170 SME representatives, 64 of whom attended the event in person at Carlton Hotel.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, one of the speakers, spoke of the Government’s efforts to create a vibrant and inclusive technology system that SMEs can trust, particularly in a post-pandemic climate.

He noted that since SMEs comprise 99 per cent of all enterprises in Singapore, the Government and big companies must help them “build muscle” by digitalising.

He remains optimistic that even as pandemic restrictions are eased and borders reopen, the emphasis on digitalisation remains strong.

“Covid-19 has helped us to focus our minds on two things – the thrust in our economic plan, centring on digitalisation and sustainability efforts, and going digital and green.”

The seminar also detailed how large enterprises can help SMEs strengthen operations, reach audiences and enter new markets overseas.

Google’s small business sales lead, Ms Ayu Sadha, said the company’s technology services like Google Market Finder and Google Ads have helped local firms like Ninja Van expand into markets like Myanmar, Taiwan and the Philippines.

“Reaching customers is important but having the right infrastructure to support businesses is equally important in the back end,” she added.

She described how local restaurant booking service Chope turned to Google Cloud Platform to process its vast transaction data, enabling it to make better and faster business decisions.


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