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Singapore is committing more than S$80m (US$56.4m) to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their digital transformation efforts, and to shore up the country’s capabilities in cyber security and data analytics.
The funding will be used to support smaller companies through the SMEs Go Digital programme, which was announced by Singapore finance minister Heng Swee Keat during his budget 2017 address in Parliament on 20 February.
Heng said digital technology can transform businesses of all sizes, and that the first way to strengthen Singapore’s SMEs is to help them embrace digital systems.
Through the SMEs Go Digital programme, which will be spearheaded by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Spring Singapore, an agency tasked to help Singapore enterprises grow, SMEs in various industries will get advice on technologies to deploy at each stage of their growth.
IMDA will also set up an SME Technology Hub, which will advise SMEs on pre-approved technology systems that are eligible for funding support, as well as connect them with technology providers and consultants.
SMEs that are ready to test-bed emerging technology systems will also get advice and funding support.
With greater digitisation, Heng noted that “data will become an important asset for firms, and strong cyber security is needed for our networks to function smoothly”. As such, part of the funding will also go towards developing data analytics as well as cyber security capabilities.
According to an IDC study commissioned by software giant SAP, many SMEs around the world have not tapped on the full potential of digital transformation, with just 7% of them going beyond integration to derive real-time business insights that improve work processes.
However, the good news is that more than half of SMEs in Southeast Asia are already on their way to take advantage of advanced technology to improve business performance, according to Ray Boggs, vice-president for small and medium business research at IDC.
Boggs noted that SMEs in Southeast Asia will likely turn to e-commerce, collaboration and customer relationship management software to improve business efficiency, compete globally and improve overall customer experience.
“To survive and prosper in today’s increasingly technologically competitive markets, SMEs in Southeast Asia, and across the region will require both advanced technology and innovative business strategies that leverage IT knowledge to sharpen business processes and performance,” he added.