KUALA LUMPUR (March 5): Malaysia’s leap into the digital economy is timely as it has helped to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with businesses embarking on digital transformation to ensure they stay afloat amidst the movement restrictions and border closures.
The National Tech Association of Malaysia (Pikom) chief executive officer Ong Kian Yew said that various grants and funds are being used by small businesses for marketing purposes, enabling them to reach a wider audience and leading to higher adoption of the Point of Sale (PoS) system.
"These initiatives, grants and funds have helped small businesses to get on board e-commerce by adopting the PoS system for retail, e-commerce and digital marketing, and at the same time, it provides some immediate relief for technology (tech) companies," he said.
He added that digital technology has proven to be a boon for sales, as businesses are able to cast a wider net, going beyond their geographical location.
"However, the question is, how much of this assistance is reaching the intended audience? We have heard of issues with regards to submission of applications, as some can be quite onerous or time-consuming," he told Bernama.
Echoing his view, Industries Unite co-founder, Datuk David Gurupatham said Malaysia is evolving from an industrial economy to a digital economy, where all businesses — even microentrepreneurs like Makcik Kiah — should go online and establish their business visibility in the digital market.
Industries Unite is a coalition of more than 80 trade, business and professional associations nationwide.
David noted that e-commerce and digitalisation help to make business transactions smoother and more efficient, while simultaneously reducing the cost of financial services.
However, he also pointed out the high cost of connectivity and the need to boost connectivity, particularly in rural areas.
"We also need more focus on upskilling those currently in the workforce to meet the needs of the digital economy and we need to begin planning for life under the advent of the Fifth Generation (5G) network, especially innovation in the Internet of Things," he added.
Meanwhile, DRA Aesthetic Enterprise director Dr Nur Athirah Md Nor said the movement restrictions have had an impact on medical spa and beauty centre businesses, but e-commerce and digital presence on social media platforms helped the company to sustain its business.
"We rely on social media platforms to reach out to more customers, and almost 70% of our clients came through these platforms,” she said.
She added that the company has its own marketing team, but noted with dismay that the digital initiatives gave more power to the telecommunication companies (telcos).
"We hoped that we could benefit from these initiatives, however, these companies put a high price on their services.
“For instance, the price of the service package is RM10,000 and government handout is RM5,000, so small businesses still need to fork out an additional RM5,000.
"We still need to hire Information Technology (IT) staff, so we wish the government will give the grant directly to small businesses so we can manage it according to our needs, whether for advertisement or to invest in the appropriate areas that suit the company’s needs, such as upskilling the staff on IT," she said.