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Disrupt Or Be Disrupted: Future-Proofing SMEs Through The Digital Business Framework Act now if you want to move from digital disruption to become a digital disruptor.

By Marion Ryan

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Asia Pacific face a myriad of problems on a day-to-day basis. They talk to me about the slowing economy, high business costs, lack of funds, strong competition at home and abroad,employee skills gaps– the list goes on.

SMEs are struggling to stay afloat in today's turbulent economy, sandwiched between established multi-million dollar companies and nimbler, more innovative startups.

While challenges persist, opportunities are significant. SMEs can leverage their agility and speed to break into new markets fast, as well as use their experience to their advantage when competing with startups.Digital technology will be a great enabler for SMEs to gain a distinct advantage in regards to speed, cost and the ease of business.

However, a recent IDC study commissioned by SAP found that close to 1 in 3 (29%) SME leaders in Asia Pacific said they spend the majority of their time managing daily operations, and not planning for growth.

The study also revealed that while 55% of SME leaders are optimistic about the performance benefits of new technology, only 47% believe that their active participation in the digital economy is essential to their survival. This highlights that more than half of SME leaders surveyed are not keeping digital transformation top of mind for their organization.

Furthermore, more than a quarter surveyed do not see the value of adopting new technology to digitalize their business due to risk concerns.The first step for many SMEs is to recognize the business value and growth potential brought about by a digital framework. SMEs need to run like a modern business using today's enterprise-grade technologies, not yesterday's innovations.

For example, MEMEBOX, an online cosmetics retailer in Seoul Korea, turned to SAP solution to support its ambitious expansion plans to China, the Americas and Southeast Asia as well as moving beyond online sales to brick-and-mortar storefronts. Technology provided MEMEBOX clear business transparency into logistics operations, allowing the company to expand with flexibility on a single platform as it globalizes.

The reason is simple. Technology should drive growth rather than limit it. In today's fast-paced business environment, being digital is no longer about innovation but survival. The question for many SME leaders is: am I making the right decisions.

Digital Business Framework

To address these concerns, SAP has designed a structured and executable framework meant to minimize risk for SMEs on their digital transformation journey. The Digital Business Framework willhelp SMEs run like a true digital business.

Covering all aspects of the business, SMEs can easily execute their digital business strategy across the following areas:

  • The Digital Core: With a digital core, SMEs can run their business in real-time and leverage business insights to simulate forecasts that will improve decision making, productivity and profitability.
  • Customer Experience: Improve customer experience through personalized services across multiple channels by integrating marketing, sales, services and commerce into a single platform.
  • Workforce Engagement: People are working harder than ever but are accomplishing much less due to organizational complexity. SMEs need total workforce engagement and advanced analytics which will enable them to attract and retain the best talents.
  • Business Networks and Supplier Collaboration: Collaboration across markets is the key to value creation, especially for SMEs that are internationalizing. The greatest challenge and opportunity in connecting vast ecosystems is the exponential data growth generated and consumed by the network. By tapping on the right solutions, SMEs can better share data in real-time, provide personalized and contextual insight, and optimize how companies exchange and offer products and services for better business results.
  • Assets and Internet of Things: SMEs can leverage IoT developments to bring greater value to customers, as well as develop new business models and revenue streams through unique partnerships. With the digital basics in place, SMEs can embrace new developments and be the frontrunners in using technology to drive greater results. The tools to help SMEs are already present. The Digital Business Framework is designed to help SMEs innovate faster and at minimal risk. Instead of waiting for a perfect solution, SMEs should start by engaging with new technology as it emerges and identify new opportunities.

The bottom line is: Act now if you want to move from digital disruption to become a digital disruptor.

Marion Ryan

Vice President & General Business, SAP Asia Pacific Japan


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