The Power of One: How Small Changes Can Net A Big Impact

By Vincent Low

As technology innovations continue to impact an increasing number of industries at breakneck speed, it is imperative for businesses to keep abreast with one of the key growth drivers – human capital.

Traditionally, senior management take it upon themselves to lead business transformation while leaving employees largely out of the conversation.

To remain competitive, this approach may no longer be applicable due to the impending threat of automation.

It would therefore be crucial for business leaders to adopt a culture based on an openness to change as well as an emphasis on employee growth where employees are consistently encouraged to identify and acquire the right skills that are complementary to technology.

The shift in paradigm would aid companies in enhancing productivity as well as to imbue staff with greater resilience to face the future economy.

In this respect, the republic has numerous initiatives available for employees to tap on and to boost their scope and depth of capabilities.

For example, the Ministry of Communications and Information announced an initiative, TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA), targeted at assisting information and communications technology (ICT) employees with training and job placement programmes. Equipping employees with the knowledge to navigate the sea of change not only yields a stronger sense of job security, it also ensures that your industry stays afloat and thrives in the future economy.

Use Technology to Focus On Core Competencies

Technology transformation has become synonymous with business success and increasingly, nimble SMEs understand its importance.

Before jumping onto the bandwagon, it would be helpful to understand technology disruptions and analyse the long-term impacts on different business functions in order to reap the full benefits from these transformations. This ensures businesses get the bang for their buck on investments and primes their operations for scaling up.

An efficient method for companies to focus on their core competencies is to leverage on technology effectively to simplify targeted functions for a greater work value.

This is especially important for SMEs as it promotes productivity, which is critical to staying ahead of the curve and allows employees to focus on key capabilities to deliver maximum value.

Businesses do not typically possess in-house expertise on print and document management, bill processing or mail room management and these are areas which management can look to in utilizing technology.

Huber’s Butchery, dealing in the manufacturing and processing of top quality meat, initially encountered delays in customer deliveries due to a tedious invoice process which was identified as a bottleneck to the company’s efficiency.

As a result of speed limitations on their office machines, employees had to invest additional time in preparing these documents that led to compounding inefficiencies. This was until the firm invested in a technologically advanced unit equipped with a faster print speed, eco stapling functionality and document sorting software which enhanced productivity.

Small steps like these can result in significant reductions to administrative hours and allow SMEs to scale incrementally while at the same time, not levying transformation fatigue on their staff.

Make Data Work for You

As computer sciences continue to evolve, advances in information and centralization have made data consolidation within an arm’s reach for SMEs.

Technological upgrades, in the form of software and hardware, can be utilized by companies to digitize data which makes it easier to store and communicate information between internal teams or external clients.

While these projects take time to plan and implement, studies have shown that they enable firms to reduce costs and widen the access to meaningful data. In turn, this enhances the depth and value of business analysis, allowing leaders to manage better by making informed decisions.

An engineering evaluation firm, Professional Testing Services (PTS), ensures that components for the offshore and marine industry are compliant and fabricated without critical flaws.

Due to the nature of the function, accurate documentation is paramount to the business’s success and these data were stored manually in hard copies.

Although the archival protocol was adequate, the retrieval process was tedious and misfiled documents led to further challenges. In a bid to improve its efficiency, PTS adopted an information management software solution that transformed operations – the software digitally archived the documents which enabled easy indexation and retrieval.

Digitization also meant enhanced accuracy and accountability for different teams working on the same assignments. A central repository platform, in this case, effectively converts the data into assets, empowering companies to create a scalable environment to support growth.

In addition, data centralization bolsters cyber security – with information unified under a single system, security specialists are better able to focus on developing programs for a single entity as opposed to iterating multiple editions for different channels.

Innovation has taken a pronounced shift from being a supporting pillar in business to a priority. While the government has enacted many policies to support SMEs in their journey and growth, the onus lies with businesses to integrate technology into their operations and inculcate a forward-looking culture to equip employees with the confidence to effect meaningful change.

The writer is director and general manager, Business Imaging Solutions, Canon Singapore.

This article was first published in The Business Times on 30 May 2017.