Partnerships offer SMEs support in digitalisation efforts and business growth

Photo by Mimi Thian

Prudential Singapore (“Prudential”) has partnered Ngee Ann Polytechnic (“Ngee Ann Poly”) and ST Engineering to equip small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the knowledge and resources on how to go digital in a safe and secure manner.

The support includes a digital commerce playbook launched in collaboration with Ngee Ann Poly in September 2021 to help SMEs kickstart their digital journey. The playbook is customised to the individual SME’s business needs and was developed together with students from the Ngee Ann Poly School of Business & Accountancy who specialise in Business Digitalisation.

With ST Engineering, Prudential is offering trainings to improve SMEs’ cybersecurity awareness so they can better safeguard their business.

Mr Goh Theng Kiat, Chief Customer Officer, Prudential Singapore, said digitalisation is important for businesses to better engage their employees and customers, as well as optimise processes.

“SMEs recognise that going digital is not just about being future-ready but a matter of survival in the current pandemic,” said Mr Goh.

“To support SMEs through this challenging time, we are collaborating with different industry players to empower them with knowledge, experience and tools, to accelerate their digital transformation so they can stay relevant to their customers.”

SMEs are a large part of the Singapore economy, accounting for 99 per cent of businesses in Singapore and employing 70 per cent of the workforce. However, SMEs often lack access to the resources they need to transform their businesses.

According to the SME Digital Transformation Study involving a poll of 400 SMEs, 56 per cent of SMEs surveyed said it was too expensive to digitalise due to high implementation costs. More than half (54 per cent) said the COVID-19 pandemic had slowed their digital transformation plans.

They also cited the lack of employees with digital skills as a challenge they faced.

Thriving in a digital world

The pilot run of the Prudential-Ngee Ann Poly’s digital commerce playbook commenced in September 2021 with 30 SME participants. They completed the training programme in October 2021.

As part of this engagement, students from Ngee Ann Poly were assigned to participating SMEs to provide practical help on the use of digital technologies that best meet their business needs.

For example, some students guided the SMEs on how to create compelling content for use on social media as well as supported with chatbot development for the SME’s website. This playbook is available to all SMEs including non-Prudential customers.

Ensuring cybersecurity for SMEs

As SMEs accelerate their efforts to go online, they need to ensure their business operations are safe and secure from cyber threats. Prudential collaborated with ST Engineering to offer SMEs relevant trainings and customised solutions to monitor and counter cyberattacks to keep their data safe.

Cyber threats are everywhere in a highly connected world, with global losses from cybercrime estimated at nearly $1 trillion in 2020. Digital transformation may also open doors to new risks that companies may not be prepared for.

SMEs are especially vulnerable due to a lack of resources or expertise in cybersecurity. According to the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA), almost 40 per cent of cyber-attacks in Singapore in 2017 involved businesses, particularly SMEs.

Greater access to co-working spaces

Recognising that ways of working and office spaces have evolved post the pandemic, Prudential has also partnered Switch to provide SMEs with access to co-working space of various kinds at competitive rates.

As more businesses are adopting hybrid work arrangements, SMEs can also tap on the co-working space on an ad-hoc basis instead of having a physical office space. This arrangement will provide them with flexibility and cost savings.

Building a strong network of partners to support SMEs’ growth

These initiatives are part of Prudential’s ongoing support as a SkillsFuture Queen Bee to scale up skills development for the SME community. In October 2020, the company launched the SME Skills Accelerator programme to equip SMEs with the skills and resources to grow and innovate, upskill their employees, and improve employee retention.

It is a collaboration between Prudential and SkillsFuture Singapore, under the SkillsFuture Queen Bee partnership.