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OPINIONS

Asia’s SMEs tune in to tech

Now being faced with additional challenges, there is perhaps still a silver lining for SMEs from this effort. Those that have turned to digital business models find that they are now better equipped to adapt their business strategy to cope with changes.

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By Maria Dzhanan
Vice President, Oracle Digital, JAPAC

Spurred by Asia’s ambitious smart nation aspirations, Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the region have spent the last few years making digital transformation a priority in order to capitalize on opportunities and realize economies of scale by adopting smarter ways of working.

Now being faced with additional challenges, there is perhaps still a silver lining for SMEs from this effort. Those that have turned to digital business models find that they are now better equipped to adapt their business strategy to cope with changes. 

However, many still lack the resources or capabilities to realize their vision. In fact, according to a study on SMEs in the Asia Pacific[1], the majority of companies this size are still in the early stages of digital maturity, and setting up the latest technology on their own may not be the most realistic approach.

Magic in the clouds

A solution to this conundrum is in the cloud. By migrating to the cloud, SMEs can gain access to sophisticated software and infrastructure services on a subscription basis, instantly expanding their capabilities without having to invest in expensive, high-maintenance technology themselves. The cloud is effectively leveling the playing field, giving smaller, agile companies the potential to gain an edge over their larger competitors and free themselves up from many time-consuming and labour-intensive manual processes that are prone to inaccuracy. As such, SMEs can focus on improving their services and profitability instead.

A new generation of cloud technologies brings with them new promises. Cloud applications are starting to have artificial intelligence (AI) embedded into them, alongside existing functionality that is also known and trusted. Cloud infrastructure is also leveraging deeper levels of AI and automation to become, in some areas, self-driving, self-securing, and self-repairing – in fact autonomous. This delivers better performance, scalability, reliability, speed and built-in security to mitigate threats and the ability to support unprecedented data management capabilities.

Proof is in the pudding

Indeed, the more agile businesses in Asia Pacific have already been quick to harness the power of cloud technologies.

For instance, Vitarich, a feed mill company in the Philippines, has turned to the cloud to modernize its business operations. Getting easy, convenient, and secure access to its data anywhere and everywhere, Vitarich has been able to cut reliance on third-party consultants. The company is then able to reskill its in-house developers so that they can produce insightful reports quickly, giving management data-driven insight into all matters of feed and livestock operations amidst stiff competition and fluctuating poultry prices. In addition, Vitarich can carry on business as usual with employees conveniently working from home on Oracle Cloud.

A helping hand

However, with change being the new constant for SMEs, and perhaps additional challenges such as lack of access to funding and issues around cost flow, while cloud might seem to offer the answer, there can remain a question about how to get there.

So, what’s the answer?

  • Businesses should start small, carefully looking at: which applications or databases may benefit most from either migrating to cloud or, being replaced or supplemented by cloud versions; which hardware infrastructures can be moved to the cloud. You don’t have to go big at the start, moving all your IT solutions to cloud. Instead, start comfortably tier by tier, solution by solution. Be ready to embrace value-added services, for example, moving your application to cloud can provide the opportunity to add cloud-based analytics, or add new digital capabilities to HR, Finance, or Sales and Marketing practices.
  • Any cloud transformation can be kick-started ‘for free’ with trials from leading IT providers, such as Oracle, from which internal IT and users can gain experience and confidence in cloud practices. Leverage these free trials.
  • When starting commercial cloud consumption, be aware of the pricing models. With a Pay-as-You-Go model, you can start without any commercial commitment and consider moving to a Monthly Flex discount-on commitment-based model when you have sized your cloud services requirement.
  • Migrating enterprise workloads and associated data to the cloud can be challenging and SMEs should not underestimate implementation. Companies should consider working with a trusted and reliable implementation partner. While this support comes at a cost, it is eventually more cost-effective than attempting DIY systems. Working with cloud implementation partners who have the right expertise and infrastructure at hand often helps SMEs not only implement cloud solutions but to also design and execute their digital strategies with ease and efficiency, saving more in the long run.

Soar high with continued innovation

The initial foray into digitalization is not without its challenges, but given the region’s vibrant technology ecosystem, the possibilities presented by cloud technology are endless. And ultimately, the support provided to SMEs will only continue to make them a stronger growth engine for the region – creating sustainable growth for Asia Pacific.

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