By Xavier Kong
IN these times of uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s nice to know that there are still some things that will happen. The sun will rise tomorrow, Malaysia is going to be humid, and digitisation is still the way forward, even for micro-businesses.
Santanu Dutt, Head of Technology for Southeast Asia with Amazon Web Services (AWS), said that digitisation is still the core of the fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0), and that it is a driver for efficiency for most sectors.
“We are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is possible, and if we are only just beginning to see what is possible, think about when the gamut of sectors fully leverages the power of these technologies. This is coming soon to Malaysia and the rest of Asia,” said Santanu.
Some examples, he noted, include how up to 60% of a teacher’s time is taken up by administrative tasks, which is overwhelming and takes away the time the teacher can actually teach. Through digitisation, such as the initiatives and interventions of the 2019 Education Mandate by former education minister Maszlee Malik, the burden of these administrative tasks can be lifted off the teachers and handled by technological means.
However, it is not just major organisations or sectors that can benefit from the digitisation process.
Santanu noted that in AWS’ reach for more inclusivity, it has been establishing partnerships with other vendors and providers, even micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) such as the mom-and-pop store around the corner.
“Online stores source content from these stores, or make them collection points. Some have even moved towards their own app to allow digital browsing of their offerings,” he said.
He noted that there are a few common ingredients necessary in undergoing a digital transformation. He shared that these ingredients, which were observations made by AWS after aiding a large number of businesses in undergoing that digital transformation, are applicable to MSMEs too.
The first ingredient is a bold vision, where MSMEs have to consider market and industry adjacencies, or even consider entirely new lines of business as they digitise, centring the process on customer experience as a growth driver.
Second, the primary stakeholders have to recognise the value of technology in achieving business outcomes, and they have to be willing to lead their team in challenging the status quo they know and taking action to make the change into digitalising their business.
That said, the workforce has to be willing to accept those technological advances and changes to their status quo as well, and companies looking towards digitisation have to focus on building in-house capability, particularly in software development and information technology operations. This forms the third ingredient.
Fourth, agile teams have a history of being more productive and satisfying customers more consistently, and though it started out as a term for software development, this has been adopted by businesses as well.
Of course, the adoption of agile practices by a business does not follow a set recipe, and requires trial and error to find the best fit for that particular company. Through the use of coordinated, smaller teams, companies can try out a multitude of options to discover that best fit.
Fifth, businesses need to be able to leverage contemporary practices and technology to accelerate outcomes, and this rounds out the earlier mention of adopting technological advances, as well as the team adapting to the technology to get what they want faster. These include machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“The fourth and fifth are similar, in terms of needing mindset changes in the people,” noted Santanu, adding that the presence of the technology has to be supplemented by changes in the people and the processes. - May 6, 2020