Taking the lead
in today's digital race
Taking the lead
in today's digital race
SME Spotlight: Honest Crafters & OGL Medical.
It has by now been clearly evident that digital transformation is not only entitled to the big giants. In fact, SMEs are convinced that technology is key to not just gaining a competitive edge but increasingly a matter of business survival.
In this issue of StarHub SME Spotlight, we talk to two homegrown SMEs who have embarked on their digital move:
- Jimmy Lim, Co-founder of Honest Crafters
- Lim Kun Lim, Managing Director of OGL Medical Holdings
The first step
Why and how did you get started on your SME’s digital transformation?
Jimmy Lim: We first began by translating certain manual HR and sales management processes onto the computer. However, we were still reliant on manually creating order sheets or payroll statements from excel. We were far from achieving the maximum potential of productivity.
It was this realisation that we decided to adopt digital tools to supplement the computers. We started using social media to market and communicate with our customers. We also shifted our record keeping onto office productivity applications.
This has allowed us to scale our operations without having to increase manpower. At the same time, we could deliver seamless and efficient customer service and reduce manual errors and delays in sales ordering. Most importantly, these tools provide us with valuable business data that we can analyse to guide our sales planning and product innovation.
With digitalisation, we could also explore new business models. In fact, we are focusing on rolling out business development plans in the next couple of years to drive online sales. And digital tools will definitely be a huge contribution factor to the success of our plans.
Lim Kun Lim: The digital revolution has undoubtedly transformed the way many industries work. We knew that we needed to keep up in order to stay on top of various disruptions in the industry. An example is the rise of web doctors.
Understanding the need for digitalisation to survive, we had to quickly get onboard. We began with baby steps – getting our basic processes digitalised with the help from online solutions, such as accounting and payroll software.
Although it may seem small, we quickly experienced the increase in efficiency. This has freed up more time and allowed us to focus more on our business growth and delivering better customer experiences.
Were there any challenges along the way and how did you overcome them?
Jimmy Lim: Like most SMEs, we face considerable challenges to remain competitive. Aside from running on lean resources, maintaining positive cashflow is our biggest concern. We do not have the financial support to implement ambitious innovations, but various government funding has enabled us to take practical first steps. For example, IMDA has launched the Start Digital Pack in January 2019 to help SMEs take up two digital solutions at no cost for at least 6 months.
Another challenge is convincing our internal stakeholders. Those who prefer the traditional way of doing business deem digitalisation as unnecessary and costly. To overcome this short-term mindset, we’ve encouraged our stakeholders to attend workshops and seminars to understand the value and benefits with successful digitalisation case studies.
Lim Kun Lim: Digitalisation is not just about having the right technologies, but establishing complete integration with the organisation – and people is key. This is why employee upskilling is crucial.
We have many employees from the mature age group who may not be very digitally savvy. The challenge will be to ensure these employees develop the necessary skills to maximise the new solutions and processes. We have to organise training sessions to bring them onboard. We also strongly encourage our staff to take up external courses that can help them pick up new skills to keep them relevant in today’s fast-paced economy.
Reaping the gains
How have the digital solutions you adopted benefited your business?
Jimmy Lim: We have adopted a digital HR software, specifically Netiquette Payroll with StarHub SmartDigital. The online HR/Payroll speeds-up our payroll processing, reduces information errors, and allows our employees to conveniently view their payslip and apply for leave. This has also made it easier for our HR team to generate database reports effortlessly.
Lim Kun Lim: After subscribing to StarHub’s SmartDigital suite of digital solutions including Accounting, Payroll and Cybersecurity, we have experienced greater productivity in our work processes. For example, we used to manually keep track of our revenue and payables, but now everything is managed within a single platform, effectively easing our workload especially during tax filing periods.
Besides the direct benefits, we now have greater visibility into various areas of our business with data extracted from the solutions. These data will guide our decisions during business planning.
What is next for your business in its digital journey?
Jimmy Lim: We want to start collecting and analysing valuable business data to gain insights of our product service innovations so that we can strategically plan our business expansion.
We’re also looking to automate and integrate some of our operations to create better synergy amongst our servicing, sales and logistic teams. Our key objective is to deliver a seamless experience that meets our customers’ every need during the process from purchase to delivery.
Lim Kun Lim: We are looking forward to the 5G revolution where we can expect peak data rates of up to 20 Gbps. Many industries will be redefined with this ultra-connectivity. OGL Medical will be riding on this wave to roll out new services that will benefit our customers, such as real time health telemetry and telemedicine.
What is your advice for those who are looking to kickstart their digitalisation and also for those who have already started?
Jimmy Lim: SMEs need to first understand digitalisation and define what it means for your own business. Do your homework – research on the latest technology trends for your industry, look for resources like financial schemes or grants, and find the right solution partners who can enable you to get started.
For those who have already begun, continue to maintain an open mind to identify opportunities and drive change.
Lim Kun Lim: Many SMEs are very cautious and tend to wait for tried-and-tested stories before taking the first step. They may find themselves struggling to catch up with the ones who have went way ahead. In this digital race, we have to be constantly ahead of trends and be daring to experiment and innovate.
Digitalisation is a long journey, and patience is necessary. The best way to put it is to reference from Blue Origin's motto, Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for "Step by Step, Ferociously".
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