Digitalisation key for SMEs to harness opportunities in $1 trillion Internet economy

Co-hosted by SGTech and Google Singapore, the discussion addressed the gaps and opportunities for SMEs to capture growth in digitalisation and internationalisation in the US$1 trillion Internet economy

From left to right: Mr Alvin Tan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Mr Nicholas Lee, SGTech Councillor

Singapore – 13 May 2022 – Strengthening small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through digitalisation will continue to be a key commitment between the Government, large enterprises, and industry associations as highlighted in today’s CXO In Conversation: Digitalisation and Internationalisation for SMEs hybrid event organised by SGTech.  

With Southeast Asia’s digital economy expected to scale to USD$1 trillion GMV by 2030, digitalised SMEs in the region are among the key benefactors of such trends and developments, which were iterated in the event.

In Singapore, SMEs have been supported heavily by the Government’s strong push for digitalisation. It was announced in Budget 2022 that S$600 million will be dedicated to helping SMEs boost productivity through digital transformation.

“One of the things we have been helping SMEs is looking at CTO-as-a-Service for SMEs to adopt these technologies in order to digitalise and internationalise,” said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan during the fireside chat moderated by SGTech Councillor, Nicholas Lee.

Given the supercharge towards digitalisation among SMEs in the last two years owing to the pandemic, MOS Tan is optimistic that there will still be an impetus for digitalisation even as borders reopen. “COVID-19 has helped us to focus our minds on two things - the thrust in our economic plan, centering on digitalisation and sustainability efforts – going Digital and Green.”

Based on the e-Conomy SEA 2021 Report published by Google, Temasek, and Bain & Company, it was found that in Southeast Asia, digital merchants use an average of two digital platforms to access consumer demand online while one in three merchants believed that they would not have survived the pandemic if not for digital platforms. These findings were presented at the event by Aadarsh Baijal, Partner of Bain & Company Singapore.

“From tech startups to micro businesses, SMEs form the backbone of the Singapore economy. Supporting and enabling the digital transformation and growth of these SMEs remains a key focus for us, under our larger commitment to empower Singaporeans today, for tomorrow. During the pandemic, going online has been a necessity for the business continuity of SMEs across the region, including Singapore. To this end, Google has continued to support these SMEs by investing in digital skills through programmes like the SME Leadership Academy, training over 10,000 SMEs during the pandemic,” said Ben King, Country Managing Director for Google Singapore and Councillor of SGTech.

The CXO in Conversation event is the first hybrid edition with a spontaneous fireside chat format which was sponsored by Google Singapore and supported by industry players such as Enterprise Singapore (ESG), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Bain & Company, and ThoughtWorks.

IMDA presented the existing government support measures that include the SME Go Digital Initiatives as well as the CTO-as-a-Service one-stop platform that SMEs can take advantage of to overcome immediate and long-term challenges. 

Other event highlights included case studies by Thoughtworks and a panel discussion on how businesses can leverage digitalisation for market growth in Southeast Asia moderated by SGTech.

”When we look at SME’s digitalisation journey, there is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach. We are talking about making this journey effective so that it enhances our lives. Technology is developed because it enhances the way we live, the way we work, the way we play, and this is also about the way we do business,” said Yean Cheong, Executive Director of SGTech from the panel discussion moderation.

As the wave of digitalisation continues to sweep across regions and sectors, SGTech has been partnering with important industry players to relook the focus on digitalisation such that outcomes and strategies adopted by SMEs are well-aligned with their business outcomes. 

To guide SMEs through their digital transformation journey, SGTech is also looking at setting up an SGTech Digital Transformation Centre that will champion the need for a holistic approach suited to the changing business environment. 

Watch the recording to view the full discussion.

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Published May 2022