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Introducing the 2024 tech trends to watch

article as first published in NST: Introducing the 2024 tech trends to watch (nst.com.my)

Technology is moving faster than most people can keep up.

Just recently, the rapid onset of AI and GenAI has enacted truly seismic change, with the potential to transform how we live and work for good. For business owners and entrepreneurs, the ubiquity of emergent technology means there's a constant need for fast decision-making on the right course of action.

And it's not just businesses. We all experience some level of tech anxiety, personally or professionally, day-to-day. Even digital natives like Gen Z, who have grown up knowing nothing else, are driving trends that hark back to a more analog age. From the rise in demand for vinyl and CDs to 'archaic' phones and pre-digital film cameras, there's growing weariness of how fast tech is moving.

SMEs everywhere need to focus on finding tech solutions that will make running their businesses easier, as well as helping them tap new revenue opportunities.

When it comes to technology, I believe businesses today need to prioritize three major areas:

Identify the right technology to adopt; with so much out there, pinpointing the solutions that can deliver the most value is key.

Reduce risk of being left behind by digital advancements; this can seriously impact growth and business longevity.

Invest in the right business infrastructure. This means creating a solid foundation for long-term tech integration, including IT support, software, and skilled employees.

Crucially, businesses today need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to technology. No business is the same, and strategies need to be individual and tailored. With so much on offer, SMEs that are bold, agile, and creative when it comes to technology will benefit most now and in the future.

Despite the need for a custom approach, there are some tech trends that every business should be paying attention to, no matter what their size or model. In this fast-moving environment, here are the top 5 tech trends SMEs should consider in 2024:

5 trends SMEs should focus on for a smarter 2024 tech strategy

1. Business will focus on cementing their approach to AI in 2024

In 2023, the explosion of GenAI took the world largely by surprise. Since then, there's been time to evaluate, reflect, and educate stakeholders on the pros and cons of specific usage of AI and GenAI. For business leaders, 2024 will be the year to decide whether to adopt AI and what to use it for. In the year ahead, we'll see more businesses formulating AI policies, frameworks, guidelines, and governance.

Why SMEs should pay attention: Laying the groundwork for this now will pay off later. Set clear parameters for both adoption and the limitations of exposure to AI's risks. These will make sure everyone across the business is aligned on policy and tactics.

2. Climate technology—and technology that drives sustainable operations—will be front and centre

From tools to map energy or emissions reduction to the use of data and IoT sensors, technology that helps identify more sustainable ways of operating is now a top priority for small businesses and corporations.

Tech will become even more central to climate solutions, and 2024 will see more funding, interest, and uptake of available solutions as a result. The market will also become more competitive for tech solutions in this space.

Why SMEs should pay attention: Whether you're an entrepreneur who is working on climate-tech solutions or a small business looking to adopt sustainable tech to run your business more responsibly, this will be an important area of focus for many SMEs this year.

3. Tech will play an even more crucial role in helping deliver superior customer experiences in 2024

Tech-assisted customer service is an area that's evolving extremely fast, with elevated consumer expectations moving with it. From AI chatbots to ever-more-sophisticated data analytics around the purchase and delivery journey, 2024 will see companies going big on customer experience to ward off competition from peers and capture customer loyalty.

Why SMEs should pay attention: The customer experience should be at the heart of every SME's growth and operations strategy. Investment in customer service technology so far has been uneven, with some companies pioneering future-forward tech-led strategies and others reticent to make the leap.

In 2024 and beyond, the gap will become far more apparent to consumers. SMEs could risk losing out if they don't scale up in this area.

4. From security to software stacks, the role of IT will evolve in 2024

IT departments will have their work cut out for them in 2024. Today's companies need more sophisticated IT and tech strategies than ever, spanning IT solutions, cybersecurity, and more.

From staying on top of the latest tech trends to facilitating hybrid working and choosing software that can impact business revenue, IT will matter more in 2024.

Why SMEs should pay attention: Small businesses and start-ups can't always afford a dedicated IT department, meaning IT expertise can fall on the shoulders of founders or just one dedicated tech specialist. If this is the case, SMEs should prioritize recruiting digitally-minded talent able to weigh in on IT decisions that add value to the business.

5. The ability to harness real-time data will continue to prove its worth in 2024

At FedEx, we've been advocates for the value of owning and leveraging real-time data for decades. Having this at our fingertips means we can analyze delivery patterns and customer trends, track critical and time-sensitive shipments, and plan around extreme weather disruption.

Now, the power of real-time data is becoming more widely known, particularly as the adoption of GenAI continues. One of the concerns leveled at GenAI is that users are making mission-critical decisions based on old data. 2024 will see this change, with the growth of hyperscalers—large cloud service providers—about to tip the balance.

These, twinned with AI models, are poised to revolutionize the analytics landscape, providing greater ability to use data to fine-tune and tweak in real-time.

Why SMEs should pay attention: For SMEs, this can lead to increased speed, accuracy, and cost-effectiveness of business solutions, as well as all-important access to customer insights at your fingertips. All of this helps improve the customer experience and, ultimately, makes your business more robust.

Tech trends evolve quickly. The software or strategies used in the past may already need overhauling if SMEs are to prime their businesses for success and scalability in 2024.

But that doesn't always mean you need to make hasty decisions or chuck out serviceable tech stacks if tech and digitisation at your company have already progressed. Perhaps small optimisations, or layering on one new tool that will add the most value, is the way to go. 

Whether you're a frontrunner in tech or starting from ground zero, 2024 will see technology at the forefront of every solid business strategy.

Knowledge Exchange for Entrepreneurship Excellence

Knowledge. Skills. Network.

In 2022, Perdana Leadership Foundation debuted the PLF SME Leaders Programme themed, “Knowledge Exchange for Entrepreneurship Excellence”, a one-day mixed format event aimed at highlighting successful practices within SMEs and facilitating knowledge and idea-sharing for mutual
enrichment. The event was sponsored by Affin Bank, Pernas and Ambank.

The event kicked off with an opening speech by PLF Chairman, Tan Sri Azman Hashim, followed by a speech by Dato’ Suriani binti Dato’ Ahmad, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development & Cooperatives, Malaysia, who provided some useful insights to the 100-odd entrepreneurs in attendance. A rare opportunity to dialogue with Tan Sri Azman Hashim, also took place later in the day in a Special Dialogue where Tan Sri shared his journey from accountant to business owner and entrepreneur-banker. The session’s Q and A proved popular as there were many who wanted to know more about the banker’s business and personal drives. Tan Sri Azman also reminded the audience of the value of persistent hard work and belief in oneself.

The SME Leaders programme also featured CEOs in three panel sessions, where they dealt with various aspects of starting and running a business, including building a long-lasting business, and challenges in innovation. These panel sessions were followed by shorter breakouts lead by business owners or trainers which enabled more dialogue and discussions among participants. Short informative talks by Mr Rizal Nainy, CEO of SME Corp Malaysia, & Mr Redzuan Affandi of MDeC, complemented the interactive sessions by informing participants of the various funding options available for MSMEs as well as digitalisation routes and assistance that can be taken.

The big finale was a Closing Keynote Address by former Prime Minister and PLF Honorary President, YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who unfortunately was only able to deliver his remarks via video as he was away overseas on the date of the event. Tun congratulated the participants on their achievements and reminded the audience that there was no short cut to success. You need to “roll up your sleeves and
do the hard work”. He stressed the importance of enjoying your work, because it will boost your dedication and make achievement that much more meaningful. Tun also motivated the participants by reminding them that they were in no way inferior to those who’re already at the top.

“I know nowadays, it is popularly promoted the narrative that one should not work hard but to work smart. Indeed, why should one work for 10 hours if the result can be achieved in half the time. But such an adage should be read alongside another adage – “easy come easy go” meaning what you achieve easily will also diminish easily.”

It was a fitting close to the event, as it emphasised the values of leadership, commitment, and hard work, the qualities that successful leaders of businesses of any size are more than familiar with.

Program ePemula akan sokong komuniti perniagaan tempatan

CYBERJAYA – Peruntukan sebanyak RM300 juta bagi Program ePemula diharap akan menggalakkan pengguna untuk menyokong komuniti perniagaan tempatan, khususnya perusahaan kecil dan sederhana (PKS) mikro yang amat terkesan akibat pandemik.
Program ePemula menekankan penggunaan e-Dompet atau e-tunai untuk pembelian secara fizikal.

Baca artikel penuh disini: https://malaysiagazette.com/2022/04/15/program-epemula-akan-sokong-komuniti-perniagaan-tempatan/

Number of SMEs decreases by 7.3%

The number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have declined by 7.3% for the period between 2020 and July 2021, SME Corp Malaysia CEO Rizal Nainy. This is due to the pandemic and Movement Control Orders (MCOs) as well as the floods in December last year which affected many SMEs.
“The decline is not surprising due to the pandemic and MCOs that have affected their operations. Interrupted cashflow was a key challenge in the pandemic, as well as the disruption in supply.
“High operating costs are another factor. The floods of December 2021 also affected many SMEs. We understand that these issues have made it difficult for them to operate and they need support,” Rizal said at the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia webinar on the SME Assistance Scheme.

Read the full article here: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/04/18/number-of-smes-decreases-by-7-3/

ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 A Regional Approach To Support Businesses

“The ASEAN SME Academy 2.0 is a partnership between the U.S. private sector, the U.S. Government, and ASEAN to help empower small businesses in Southeast Asia,” said Ambassador Ted Osius, President and CEO of US-ABC, in his remarks. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that small businesses needed to adapt in order to survive the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges. To aid in this process, we focused on building a one-stop, virtual learning platform that could maximise our impact and support ASEAN’s comprehensive recovery,” he added.

Read the full article here: https://www.businesstoday.com.my/2022/04/09/asean-sme-academy-2-0-a-regional-approach-to-support-businesses/

Medac to allocate RM1.6 mil for asnaf entrepreneurs affected by Covid-19, floods

KUALA LUMPUR – The Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (Medac) has allocated RM1.6 million for its special tithe fund, which will be distributed by agencies under the ministry to asnaf entrepreneurs affected by Covid-19 and floods.

Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the distribution of aid collected from various agencies under Medac is aimed at easing the financial burden of the entrepreneurs as well as helping them to revive their businesses.

The article in full: https://www.thevibes.com/articles/business/53060/medac-to-allocate-rm1.6-mil-for-asnaf-entrepreneurs-affected-by-covid-19-floods

7 tips on how to start your own business

Recent years have seen a trend in women wanting to start their own businesses, said Michelle Hon, the founder of MomBoss Academy, which coaches mothers on how to build their own businesses. Some of them (or their partners) lost their jobs because of the pandemic and needed additional income sources, while others were now able to carve aside time to work on their dream businesses because of the flexibility of remote working, she said.

“The barrier and cost to starting a business is now very low and the trend is encouraging more women to take up entrepreneurship. It’s no longer a rare ‘occupation’,” Hon noted.

The article in full: 7 tips on how to start your own business – from Singapore women who succeeded - CNA Lifestyle (channelnewsasia.com)

Malaysian F&B enters German market with Go Asia

MALAYSIAN homegrown food and beverage (F&B) companies have entered the Germany market through Asian supermarket Go Asia. Go Asia has 31 branches located throughout Germany, and will be a platform for these Malaysian companies to promote their products in the European region.

“These Malaysian F&B players have developed competitiveness and unique niches, including qualifying themselves for industry-specific international recognitions such as Good Manufacturing Practises, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points and ISO 22000 Food Safety Management System,” Matrade Deputy CEO (export acceleration) Sharimahton Mat Saleh said, adding that these recognitions will help Malaysian companies in expanding their exports globally.

Additionally, Malaysian F&B products are also promoted through the newly launched e-commerce platform, Mal Asia, the first online store built solely to market Malaysian food and non-food products, especially in the DACH (Deutschland, Austria, Confoederatio Helvetica) market region, which includes Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The article in full: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/01/28/malaysian-fb-enters-german-market-with-go-asia/

Malaysia ties up with 17 Arab countries on SME development

SME Corp Malaysia seeks to establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with two of its counterparts, namely the SMEs Development Agency of Oman and the Small Enterprise Development Fund of Yemen to strengthen bilateral relations related to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

CEO of SME Corp Malaysia Rizal Nainy (picture) informed that international buyers from the Middle East as well other parts of the world now can easily source for the products and services of Malaysian SMEs through the MatchME platform. “Introduced since June 2021, MatchME is a digital platform connecting SME companies with anchor companies such as multinational corporations (MNCs), government-linked companies, supermarkets and large companies locally and internationally. Since inception, a total 740 MSMEs, as well as 93 MNCs and large companies from Malaysia and abroad have participated in virtual business matchings through this platform, successfully generating a sum of RM38 million in potential sales,” he added.

This MatchME platform is one of the key components of a larger initiative called MyAssist MSME that provides an online stage for MSMEs to seek business advisory and information, guidance and digital marketing opportunities.

The article in full: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/02/04/malaysia-ties-up-with-17-arab-countries-on-sme-development/

Boost offers fast tracked Shariah-compliant financing for MSMEs

THE Fintech arm of Axiata Group Bhd, Boost offers up to RM100,000 to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through Capital Plus, financed through its market leading digital lending subsidiary Boost Credit (formerly Aspirasi). Capital Plus is a Shariah-compliant micro-financing facility based on Commodity Murabahah, ideal for MSMEs. It offers financing from as low as RM1,000 up to RM100,000 over a 15-month tenure at a low profit rate of 1.2% per month, with no repayment of principal for the first three months. MSMEs do not need any guarantor or collateral to apply for this financing.

The article in full: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/02/04/boost-offers-fast-tracked-shariah-compliant-financing-for-msmes/

Business owners need automation, AI training, SME associations say

SME Association Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing said without government support, SMEs would not be able to adopt and use digitalisation in their businesses. He suggested that the government hire foreign experts to train industry players.

“If you want SMEs to be able to use IR4.0 or high-end digital technology, the government should train micro and SMEs to improve productivity,” Ding said.“SMEs need to be taught. Coffee shop owners for example won’t be able to use the technology if there is no training provided. Get foreign experts to train them here. It may take two to four years but it is the fastest way.” Ding said there were 1.4 million SMEs in Malaysia with 76% of the businesses in micro industries.

Last year, Malaysia’s e-commerce value soared 33% to RM896 billion after registering an income of RM675 billion in 2019, according to latest data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia. Majority of them used technologies on social media (60%) and mobile internet (63.8%) while only a small minority explored frontier technologies like data analytics (6.3%). 

A study conducted by SME Association of Malaysia revealed that only 26% of SMEs had chosen digital technologies as their main post-pandemic growth strategy. The majority of SMEs (57%) have not even started digitalising their business.

Article in full: https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/365044

RM1,500 minimum wage will kill small businesses, says MEF

The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said the proposed increase in the national minimum wage to RM1,500 will kill businesses, which are still in economic recovery mode. 

In a statement today, MEF president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said most businesses were not in a position to implement the proposed new minimum wage because they were still reeling from the economic shock brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent floods.

“The new minimum wage will push up the cost of goods and services. Operational costs will definitely increase, so this is not the right time.”

He said most small and medium-sized businesses were suffering, and even a small increase in costs, like the increase in the minimum wage, could cause them to shut down. “Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) make up over 90% of Malaysian businesses. The government must consider their survival and sustainability.”

Full article here: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/02/06/rm1500-minimum-wage-will-kill-small-businesses-says-mef/

IDC unveils its top ICT predictions for 2022

The impact brought by the pandemic on the economy and the way organisations have to react quickly to changes continues to be the reasons why digital transformation remains at the forefront for Asean organisations, according to IDC. 

n a statement, the research firm said the motivation for the future enterprises of Asean to be successful and innovative in a digital-first economy is only getting stronger with time and this trend is seen to be gathering even more pace. These organisations are increasingly not only looking to innovate and generate revenue from digital products and services but to also be part of the ever-growing and evolving industry ecosystems, the research firm added. 

We will see more and more Asean enterprises of the future forging partnerships and collaboration with ecosystem players to derive value from shared data, applications, and operations initiatives,” said Dharmaraj Sivalingam, senior research manager for IDC Asean. 

Full article here: https://www.digitalnewsasia.com/business/idc-unveils-its-top-ict-predictions-2022

Six trends that will shape digital commerce in Malaysia in 2022

As digital touchpoints continue to expand and blend across all aspects of life, in the future we imagine that buying will happen independently from a store, and our entire world will become a marketplace. This means you’ll be able to make purchases wherever is convenient on the channel you prefer, instead of monitoring for an item to be in stock or having to wait a long time for delivery. Since the pandemic, Malaysia has seen over three million new digital consumers with 94% of pandemic consumers using digital services and 98% intending to continue being digital consumers in a post-Covid world. Full article here: https://themalaysianreserve.com/2022/02/15/six-trends-that-will-shape-digital-commerce-in-malaysia-in-2022/