5 Takeaways from Think Big Leadership Business Series 2017: Transformation Now

Last month’s edition of Canon’s Think Big Leadership Business Series was themed Transformation Now, and several SME business owners were amongst the audience listening to a host of speakers sharing their expertise on sustainability amidst potentially disruptive changes in the global economy.

Here are five key takeaways from the conference:

Embracing the Age of Constant Disruption

“The global economy has gone through unparalleled changes with changes to global demand patterns,” Ms. Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, acknowledged in her keynote address. Transformation, sustainability, and indeed “global demand patterns” may well be big words in a sentence, but Ms. Sim was on to something to prepare us for the constant changes we encounter in today’s world.


Technological innovations around the world have disrupted traditional business models that have allowed us to succeed in the past. Uber, Netflix, Airbnb – to name a few – are all digital-centric businesses that have caused major shifts in the transport, TV and accommodation industry respectively.

As we gravitate towards a digital economy, businesses have to accept that innovation will no longer be a once-in-a-generation occurrence, but a constant to be embraced, and leveraged on.

Initiatives like the SMEs Go Digital program announced at Budget 2017 will help raise SMEs’ overall level of digital readiness by giving them step-by-step advice on the technologies to use at each stage of their digital journey.

Innovation vs. Invention

Innovation and invention may sound alike, but there is an important distinction between the two.

Invention can be defined as the creation of a product or introduction of a processor idea for the first time, while Innovation is the “delivery” of that idea – as expertly laid out by Mr. Stuart Smith, Chief of Digital Service Innovation and Design, National University of Singapore.


We all have had our bright ideas, but acting on them and forcing a change – that is innovation. When the iPod was first released in 2001, Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player. Where Apple distinguished itself was through innovation;  combining thoughtful design, ergonomics, and user interface to make the iPod an iconic technological breakthrough.

Mr. Smith argued that innovation brings about more innovation. While a country like Singapore is going through a constant state of flux with newer technologies, this opens the door for SME business owners and entrepreneurs to further their ideas.

Invite Ideas From All Levels

“The first step to finding innovation is changing how you think,” emphasized Dr. Wilson Chew, author, and partner at PwC Singapore. The change of mindset from being old-fashioned, to open-mindedness is passed off as a small step by SME owners, but it may well be the biggest that they take towards innovation and sustainability. Being open could mean inviting ideas from all levels; from your employees, your customers, your suppliers.


They say that if you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. For a while now we have expected the older and more experienced colleagues to be our mentors. However today, there can be younger and less experienced “reverse-mentors” who happen to be more technologically-savvy, or hold expertise in other areas.

There are several outlets for fresh ideas and perspectives that could help SME business owners innovate and transform how their businesses operate. The next good idea could be just a conversation away, so it is important to have an open mind when approaching colleagues and peers.

Take Data Security Seriously

In March 2016, a blackhat hacker took control of 29,000 printers with a single line of code to release private information. We have all heard of similar office appliances getting hacked or taken over by external controls, but did you know that something as innocuous as your toaster is now also susceptible to hackers?

A business’ credibility and success comes down to several factors; price for the services they offer, efficiency in getting the job done, and the security measures the business adopts. Vital credentials are sent and received on electronic office appliances on an hourly basis, and security measures and features have proved necessary to safeguard private information.


To combat the everyday cybersecurity threats that come with office appliances, Canon’s New Generation imageRUNNER ADVANCE series comes equipped with the imageRUNNER Security Kit. The features include Standard Device Security, Network and Print Security, and Data Overwrite Protection, all developed after studying market trends and details surrounding customer security requirements.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Microsoft are one of the companies who prioritize cybersecurity whilst still trying to foster digital transformation. Mr. Asfar Rizvi, Partner Technology Strategist, Microsoft, and Mr. Borko Kovacevic, Business Group Lead, Office Marketing, Microsoft, shared the importance of being ready and anticipating any plausible risks, as opposed to reacting to them when crisis strikes.


“We have to be very proactive in our security posture, so every battle is won before it’s fought,” spoke Mr. Rizvi. “Ask yourself questions when preparing a security strategy; is your data secure, and who can access your data presently?”

Mr. Chris Tickler, Product Planning Director, NT-ware, believes that security threats can be comfortably managed with some caution. “The world isn’t that scary as long as you are careful,” affirms Mr. Tickler. “And you don’t have to fear every device that is on the network as long as you’re aware of the mitigated risks.”

Change, as they say, is the only constant. In today’s world, the need to keep up with the times and technology proves to be more important than ever. As disruptive as the changes may have been to our economy and landscape, they have presented us with more opportunities to innovate and soar.

Stay tuned to our Think Big website and our Canon Singapore LinkedIn page for more business insights like these, and see you at our next event of this series!