Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – UOB Malaysia and its innovation accelerator arm The FinLab have recently concluded their ‘Jom Transform Programme’, in which 116 local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) received advisory and assistance in digital transformation.
The program aimed to help improve productivity and grow their revenue to overcome the challenges brought about by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
Now in its second year, the program was conducted virtually on UOB’s virtual platform The FinLab Online amid physical distancing restrictions during the pandemic. The regional digital platform enabled SMEs to access online workshops, video tutorials, and webinars in digital marketing, business operations, and e-commerce.
“Through our engagement sessions last year, we found that SMEs have long considered digitalization essential to reinventing their business models. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted these businesses to accelerate their digital transformation efforts as they had to operate with strict standard operating procedures within physical restrictions,” said Wong Kim Choong, chief executive officer at UOB Malaysia.
He added, “By hosting the ‘Jom Transform Programme’ on The FinLab Online, SMEs could access our resources online easily and conveniently, progressing on their digitalization journey from the safety of their own homes and offices.”
During the implementation of the program, it found out that 60% of the participating SMEs expressed the intent to adopt digital marketing to expand their online brand presence. The remaining participants were focused on incorporating digital solutions to improve their operations and integrating e-commerce to boost their sales.
Since its launch in 2020, The FinLab Online has enabled businesses across Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand to access and to receive guidance on their digitalization journey. In Malaysia, the Jom Transform Programme reached more SMEs outside the Klang Valley last year, including companies in Kedah, Penang, Terengganu, Perak, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.
The Jom Transform Programme will have another run in 2021, where the first cohort will undergo a business transformation curriculum through The FinLab Online starting 18 May 2021. Interested participants may register at The FinLab website.
Singapore – Singapore’s national confederation of trade unions, National Trades Union Congress LearningHub (NTUC LHUB), has signeda Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its initiative NTUC U SME, United Overseas Bank (UOB)’s innovation accelerator The FinLab, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) to officially launch the SME Digital Reboot program.
The program seeks to help 500 companies nationwide in enhancing their digital capabilities by the end of 2022, to help them stay relevant and competitive in a transformed business landscape.
The MOU sees NTUC U SME to initially leverage their broad network of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and associations to boost outreach efforts. Then, with The FinLab’s expertise in supporting ASEAN SMEs with their business transformation journeys, the organization will provide companies the access to a range of digital resources and tools on The FinLab Online, which was designed to help SMEs to understand their business needs and to determine a sustainable digitalization strategy.
Furthermore, NTUC LHUB and NP will provide training across five tracks including Digital Communication and Collaboration, Workflow Automation, Process Automation, Data Processes and Visualisation, and Digital Marketing. And lastly, to ensure that the learning can be applied effectively, the program includes on-ground implementation support through workplace learning sessions by NP lecturers, graduates, and students. .
The SME Digital Reboot program applies to companies of all sizes but will mainly focus on SMEs. As companies employ over two-thirds of the nation’s workforce, SMEs can contribute an estimated half of Singapore’s Gross Domestic Product.
As the pandemic forced businesses to shift to online, many SMEs think of digital transformation as an exclusive measure that only larger companies can afford. Through the SME Digital Reboot, the parties aim to create a mindset shift in SME employers. The program can provide an upskilling for SME employees and help SMEs create sustainable business tools for them to adapt to changes.
The program can also help synergize the unique strengths of key partners to uplift companies to keep pace with the age of digitalization. This will be done through an end-to-end solution covering needs assessment, curated training programs, and workplace learning sessions.
During a pilot program, 40 companies have benefited from the ‘reboot’, turning digital disruption into digital assistance in their businesses. A key group that benefited from the pilot is the Association of Employment Agencies Singapore (AEAS), which is the only industry association that represents employment agencies in the country. Under the program, AEAS members were offered employment advisory for training, training courses for workers, and the right tools to kickstart their digital transformation.
Chairman of NTUC LHUB, Eugene Wong, said that SMEs are key engines of the economy, yet 40% of SMEs surveyed cited the lack of support and expertise as barriers to digitalization.
“The strategic partnership with The FinLab and Ngee Ann Polytechnic to roll out a structured SME Digital Reboot program will empower organizations to take the first step in their digital transformation strategy by building in-demand skills to navigate towards digital success. NTUC LHUB endeavors to continue expanding our ecosystem of partners to transform workers for a transformed future,” said Wong.
Meanwhile, Yeo Wan Ling, director of NTUC U SME, said that NTUC U SME is committed to providing targeted assistance to their partner SMEs, to help their workers upskill and their company transforms digitally to adapt in the post-COVID-19 world.
“SMEs are one of the key pillars of Singapore’s economy employing a large portion of Singapore’s workforce. With the added boost from the recent Singapore Budget 2021, I hope to engage more companies and associations like the Employment Agencies (Singapore) to help them innovate and enhance their productivity,” said Yeo.
Janet Young, co-founder and director of The FinLab, further commented, “To do [the program], we are tapping the experience of NTUC LHUB, NTUC U SME, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic together with UOB’s expertise and The FinLab’s suite of digital resources and community of industry experts to provide SMEs the guidance they need to digitize sustainably. Drawing on UOB’s extensive SME network in Singapore and ASEAN, we will continue to broaden our reach to help more companies benefit through the SME Digital Reboot program.”
And finally, Clarence Ti, the principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, commented, “To ensure effective implementation of digital solutions, NP has adapted the training pedagogy in the form of use-case playbooks and best practices. NP is also looking forward to offering post-training consultation and guidance to help SMEs roll out their digital solutions smoothly. Being part of the SME digitalization journey not only presents a great opportunity for our staff, students, and alumni to contribute our expertise but also allows us to build up additional use cases to further enhance our training programs in this area.”
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