Maxis’ Digital Readiness Index finds 58% of M'sian SMEs not ready in embracing digital tech to optimise efficiency

(From left): Maxis head of enterprise customer experience and commercial management Tan Cheong Tatt, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Maxis chairman Raja Tan Sri Arshad Raja Tun Uda and Maxis chief enterprise business officer Paul McManus. (Photo by Maxis)

(From left): Maxis head of enterprise customer experience and commercial management Tan Cheong Tatt, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, Maxis chairman Raja Tan Sri Arshad Raja Tun Uda and Maxis chief enterprise business officer Paul McManus. (Photo by Maxis)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 24): Maxis Bhd’s latest interactive self-assessment tool for businesses to assess digital readiness level — Digital Readiness Index (DRI) — found that 58% of 2,000 Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that used the service, are categorized as "Not Ready" in reaching full potential in embracing digital technologies to a greater extent to reap the benefits in efficiency, productivity, customer experience and employee satisfaction.

Maxis noted that the use of digital tools for customer engagement is still at a basic level with 61% using email and 40% using social media as main communication channels with customers, adding that companies are most digitalised in the efficiency pillar.

It added only 26% of SMEs in the transportation, manufacturing, trade, and oil and gas sector track their company's vehicles digitally. 

The 2,000 SMEs that used the DRI tool are from the retail, manufacturing, transportation, hotel, restaurant and cafe (HoReCa), oil and gas, government and GLC, and professional services industries.

Maxis today launched DRI, an interactive self-assessment tool that helps businesses of all sizes across industries, particularly SMEs, to gauge their digital readiness level and assess themselves against competitors and industry benchmarks.

Based on Maxis’ studies and continuous engagement with SMEs over the years, Maxis chief enterprise business officer Paul McManus said SMEs need strong support to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape as well as accelerating digitalisation.

“The DRI has the potential to generate actionable insights on the state of digital transformation of businesses and industries in the nation, including for the government particularly as a consideration for policy implementation and best practices for digital adoption. This is in line with our commitment to enable businesses and the nation to always be ahead in a changing world,” said McManus during a virtual media briefing in conjunction with the launch of the DRI.

When asked whether this DRI tool would translate into earnings for Maxis' financial year ending Dec 31, 2020 (FY20), Paul commented: “This tool is not primarily driving revenue for Maxis, because we see it as a social responsibility to help all Malaysian businesses to compete and accelerate."

“Our focus is to help organisations in Malaysia to be more competitive and to recover from the current circumstances [Covid-19 pandemic],” he added.

The group did not reveal the amount they allocated for this digital tool.

Explaining the use of DRI, Maxis said participants can take the DRI survey, which analyses three key pillars in business — customer satisfaction, employee productivity and operational efficiency.

“A formula determines the score for each pillar that tabulates a total score to gauge digital readiness — ranging from ‘Ready’, ‘Nearly Ready’, ‘Not Ready’ and ‘At Risk’. Along with comprehensive and personalised insights into their business, the final report provides competitor analysis, industry benchmarking as well as recommendations on the most suitable digital solutions for their needs. Companies can also opt to follow up with guidance from dedicated Maxis consultants,” said Maxis.

On another note, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives (MEDAC) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the SME sector continues to play a vital role as a buffer for the country’s economy, being the hardest hit by the pandemic.

He noted that SME contribution to the country’s gross domestic product continues to be at very high levels, increasing to almost 39% in 2019, citing a report from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM).

“We remain committed to helping local entrepreneurs and businesses to provide a boost to the country’s economy. For SMEs and entrepreneurs to grow in the domestic market and even expand into international markets, reliable connectivity and digital readiness would be imperative. Going digital is not an option but a necessity for survival,” he added.

Maxis and MEDAC will be collaborating on several initiatives through the ministry’s agencies including National Entrepreneurship Institute (INSKEN), TEKUN Nasional and Co-operative Institute of Malaysia (IKKM).

The initiatives include incorporating the DRI into INSKEN’s ongoing targeted modules and training, exploring collaboration on Maxis’ Digital Entrepreneurship Workshop, and digital solutions for the micro and SME segments, said Maxis.

Maxis will also be sharing yearly updates of digital readiness in the country with the agencies through insights generated from the DRI to help them measure digital adoption rates in the country.

At the time of writing, shares in Maxis had fallen one sen or 0.2% to RM5.11, bringing its market capitalisation to RM40 billion. It saw some 29,900 shares traded.

Joyce Goh