Duncan Williamson
SAP Malaysia Managing Director Duncan Williamson

Local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should start viewing technology as an investment and not a cost if they are to realise sustainable growth.

In an interview with SME Malaysia, SAP Malaysia Managing Director Duncan Williamson said that technology serves as a business enabler that paves the way for greater productivity, operational efficiencies and cost-savings.

He cited the case of Grab, Southeast Asia (SEA)’s leading ride-hailing platform.

“Grab is changing the way people travel in various countries around the region, Malaysia included,” said Williamson.

“The company needed a way to simplify expense management and chose SAP Concur, identifying with our SEA focus and global footprint. Today, Grab’s personnel spend much lesser time on managing their expenses and stay more focused on driving the Grab business forward,” he said. “Plus, everyone knows exactly when they will be reimbursed.”

Williamson further said that many solutions that were once the exclusive domain of large corporates have been scaled in capacity – and price – and are now within reach of local SMEs. “This is a crucial point of a digital transformation journey which SMEs need to recognise to overcome the fear that such a process might incur an unexpectedly high cost.”

“For this to happen, SMEs need to change their mindset and start viewing technology as an investment – and not a cost – for sustainable growth,” emphasised Williamson.

Looking beyond the present

“SMEs must not only think of the present but also anticipate and prepare for the next few years. They must realise that the name of the game is changing amidst liberalisation and other reforms that are taking place in the economy,” said Williamson.

He then proceeded to cite the case of Global Facilities Management Sdn Bhd (GFM), an integrated facility management services company, which had successfully embarked on a digital transformation journey through the implementation of the SAP S/4 HANA enterprise management system.

SAP’s S/4HANA Enterprise Management system addresses functionality that goes beyond financials. For example, it includes features such as inventory management and production planning. The base concept is that what was a traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system now encompasses everything business and finance, from sales to supply chain management.

GFM’s fast-growing business saw a need to replace disparate legacy systems since manual communication and analysis were impacting performance. Those legacy systems hindered Finance in timely analysis, Marketing in accurate value pricing, Human Resources in efficient resource allocation and Operations in real-time Service Level Agreement (SLA) monitoring.

To overcome this, GFM looked towards streamlining resource allocation and management. By choosing S/4HANA Enterprise Management as its ‘go-to’ solution, it was able to gain a powerful system with multiple functionalities that was able to address its challenges while reducing Total Cost of Ownership.

“With SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management, together with guidance from our partner NEC, GFM was able to improve data and information accuracy, cutting out redundancy and reducing errors in manual operations,” said Williamson.

GFM Executive Director Zainal Amir was previously quoted in media reports that, with the solution in place, the company was able to serve more complex customers with the agility to respond quickly and more accurately as data is readily available.

Helping SMEs grow their companies in a sustainable manner

“Technology is scalable in so many ways today. By choosing to leverage on technology, SMEs will be able to gain faster time to market, be more responsive to changing customer requirements, and in general produce goods and services of a higher quality,” said Williamson.

“At our end, SAP solutions help SMEs take the complexity out of running their businesses so that they can focus on growing their companies sustainably,” he added.a

Today, SAP has served over 380,000 customers in markets around the globe, 80% of which are SMEs