Digitally-transformed SMEs facing challenges in today’s pandemic economic climate can leverage more on the Cloud for sustainable growth pathways.

Spurred by Asia’s ambitious smart nation aspirations, Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the region have spent the last few years making digital transformation a priority in order to capitalize on opportunities and realize economies of scale by adopting smarter ways of working.

Now, being faced with additional challenges, there is perhaps still a silver lining for SMEs from this effort. Those that have turned to digital business models find that they are now better equipped to adapt their business strategy to cope with changes.

However, many still lack the resources or capabilities to realize their vision. In fact, according to a study on SMEs in Asia Pacific, the majority of companies this size are still in the early stages of digital maturity, and setting up the latest technology on their own may not be the most realistic approach.

Magic in the clouds

A solution to this conundrum is in the Cloud. By migrating to cloud technology, SMEs can gain access to sophisticated software and infrastructure services on a subscription basis, instantly expanding their capabilities without having to invest in expensive, high-maintenance technology themselves.

The cloud is effectively levelling the playing field, giving smaller, agile companies the potential to gain an edge over their larger competitors and free themselves up from many time-consuming and labor-intensive manual processes that are prone to inaccuracy. These SMEs can then focus on improving their services and profitability instead.

A new generation of cloud technologies brings new promises. Cloud applications are starting to have AI embedded into them, alongside existing functionality that is also known and trusted. Cloud infrastructure is also leveraging deeper levels of AI and automation to become, in some areas, self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing—in fact, autonomous. This delivers better performance, scalability, reliability, speed and built-in security to mitigate threats and support unprecedented data management capabilities.

Proof is in the pudding

Indeed, the more agile businesses in the Asia Pacific region have already been quick to harness the power of cloud technologies.

For instance, Vitarich, a feed mill company in the Philippines, has turned to the cloud to modernize its business operations. Getting easy, convenient, and secure access to its data anywhere and everywhere, Vitarich has been able to cut reliance on third-party consultants. The company is then able to reskill its in-house developers so that they can produce insightful reports quickly, giving management data-driven insights into all matters of feed and livestock operations amidst stiff competition and fluctuating poultry prices. In addition, Vitarich can carry on business as usual with employees conveniently working from home.

A helping hand

However, with change being the constant for SMEs, and perhaps with additional challenges such as lack of access to funding and issues around cost flow, there may be a looming question of how to get to the Cloud.

So, what is the answer?

  • Businesses should start small, carefully looking at: which applications or databases may benefit most from either migrating to cloud or, being replaced or supplemented by cloud versions; which hardware infrastructures can be moved to the cloud.

    They do not have to go big at the start, moving all their IT solutions to cloud. Instead, start comfortably tier by tier, solution by solution. Be ready to embrace value-added services, for example, moving their applications to the cloud can provide the opportunity to add cloud-based analytics, or add new digital capabilities to HR, Finance, or Sales and Marketing practices.
  • Any cloud transformation can be kick-started ‘for free’ with trials from leading IT providers, from which internal IT and users can gain experience and confidence with cloud practices. Leverage these free trials.
  • When starting commercial cloud consumption, be aware of the pricing models. With a Pay-as-You-Go model, businesses can start without any commercial commitment and consider moving to commitment-based model when they have sized their cloud services requirements.
  • Migrating enterprise workloads and associated data to the cloud can be challenging, and SMEs should not underestimate implementation. Companies should consider working with a trusted and reliable implementation partner. While this support comes at a cost, it is eventually more cost-effective than attempting DIY systems. Working with cloud implementation partners who have the right expertise and infrastructure often helps SMEs not only implement cloud solutions, but to also design and execute their digital strategies with ease and efficiency, saving more in the long run.

Soar high with continued innovation

The initial foray into digitalization is not without its challenges, but given the region’s vibrant technology ecosystem, the possibilities presented by cloud technology are endless.

Ultimately, the support provided to SMEs will only continue to make them a stronger growth engine for the region—creating sustainable growth for the Asia Pacific region.