Are We There Yet? Future-Proofing Malaysian SMEs

Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, The iA Group


  • Mr Adam Yee, President & Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Malaysia
  • Mr George Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Innov8tif Solutions Sdn Bhd
  • Mr Gopi Ganesalingam, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Industry Officer, MDEC
  • Mr Rizal Nainy, Chief Executive Officer, SME Corp

In Concurrent Session B: “Are We There Yet? Future-Proofing Malaysian SMEs”, moderator Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim of The iA Group highlighted the major disruptions of the past one and a half years that have forced SMEs to embrace digitalisation. Mr Gopi Ganesalingam of MDEC mentioned the challenges faced by micro-enterprises in adopting digitalisation to help them grow their market and leverage on e-commerce, while Mr George Lee of Innov8tif Solutions shared his personal experiences in terms of persuading enterprises to adopt digital technologies during the pandemic. He added that enterprises must change their approach to engage new customers or they will lose out to rivals that incorporate tech into their business model from day one.

Mr Adam Yee of Siemens Malaysia highlighted his company’s role in driving the adoption of the latest technology for SMEs and the need for further collaboration between government agencies and the private sector to ensure more widespread digitalization for small and medium enterprises in line with Industry 4.0 goals. From the government’s side, Mr Rizal Nainy of SME Corp mentioned the various stimulus packages that are available for SMEs. PRIHATIN which was introduced as part of Budget 2021 has nine comprehensive economic packages while PEMULIH addresses critical pandemic-related issues faced by SMEs, in terms of finance, cash flow assistance, job retention, human capital and development, infrastructure development, as well as the adoption of technology and digitalisation.

All panellists agreed that Covid-19 has deepened the divide that exists in terms of skills, income, and digital adoption. As such, an inclusive support system needs to be in place to create a sustainable ecosystem for micro and small-medium enterprises in Malaysia.

“Are SMEs ready to adopt tech? I would say yes, because today, their customers are used to tech and know it very well. Who doesn’t use Grab, Shoppee, Foodpanda, and the rest?”- Mr George Lee

“Digital transformation has to start from the inside; a company needs to understand its processes and requirements before it can determine what digitalisation it needs to remain relevant.”- Mr Adam Yee

“To survive in this post-pandemic world, there are three areas that MSMEs can adopt to navigate the new normal: Sustainability, digitalisation and innovation, and inclusiveness.”- Mr Rizal Nainy

“I think we need to understand that we need to educate our youth and the current workforce. Traditional jobs will be obsolete, but there will be 40,000 types of different jobs as replacements.”- Mr Gopi Ganesalingam

“We are in the early phase of recovery. It’s a very important phase, but we have to live with this uncertainty and ambiguity for the next few years.”Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim