Small business, big disruptions (The Straits Times)

(Graphic: BT, The Straits Times)

As Singapore goes Smart, SMEs have to redouble their digitalisation efforts


Cashless payments. Sensors in lamp-posts. Delivery drones. Singapore is on a Smart Nation drive, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will play a key part.

As the economy strengthens in 2018 and cash flows improve, SMEs have to continue adopting digital technology, experts said. Jing Tan, Asia Region Chief Financial Officer at International SOS, highlights the importance of investing in service quality, innovation, and technology to stay competitive.

As early as 2008, the global medical and travel security services firm pioneered a digital travel risk mitigation solution called TravelTracker.

The app allows clients to quickly locate and communicate with their employees especially in a crisis, and to render assistance if required.

In 2010, they also invested in a mobile app to provide business travellers with up-to-date medical and travel security advice. In 2016 alone, TravelTracker has helped more than 1,400 clients. The mobile app has also sent 5.3 million pre-trip advisories to travellers to prepare them for their international trips.

“Investing in these digital solutions has led to an increase in the productivity and usage of our services. We have also successfully demonstrated significant value to our clients in terms of their return on investments (ROI),” Mr Tan said.

As travel becomes a mass market phenomenon, he is anticipating bigger opportunities, and is innovating and enhancing the company’s services and solutions to meet clients’ needs. International SOS’s digitalisation strategy extends to their back-end processes as well.

“In 2017, we began exploring digital payment solutions in China to better manage and to automate our local and cross-border payments.

We expect to roll this out in China in early 2018 and to other countries in Asia thereafter,” he said. Castlery, an SME dealing in designer furniture, is also exploring new technologies in 2018. “Opportunities include new retail technologies to drive customer engagement, sales, and create delightful and differentiated experiences,” said Chief Operating Officer, Travers Tan.

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The Straits Times

26 January 2017

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