Start Digital provides new digital solutions to help SMEs adapt

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Start Digital, launched in January 2019 by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) and Enterprise Singapore (“ESG”), is an initiative under the SMEs Go Digital programme. It provides newly incorporated SMEs or those that have yet to digitalise with foundational and easy-to-deploy digital solutions, to help them start their digitalisation journeys.

These solutions, or Start Digital Packs, are offered by IMDA’s six partners – DBS, M1, Maybank, OCBC, Singtel and UOB.

New Start Digital Solutions

COVID-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of enterprises. At present, Start Digital includes Accounting, Human Resource Management System & Payroll, Digital Marketing, Digital Transactions and Cybersecurity solutions.

Peter Ong, Chairman, Enterprise Singapore, said in the Start Digital Refresh webinar that “the earlier set of Start Digital solutions met the basic needs of SMEs. However, COVID-19 has impacted SMEs in many ways. It compounded pre-existing challenges such as cost pressures, cashflow and manpower issues, amidst weak demand locally and globally.”

“It also hastened the digitalisation of the economy. Many SMEs had to digitalise in order to continue operations during Circuit Breaker. Many also adopted digital technologies to implement safe management measures.”

Based on feedback from SMEs and Start Digital partners, IMDA and ESG have enhanced Start Digital to include new solutions that will enable SMEs to collaborate seamlessly with internal and external parties, and gain new customers.

The new and enhanced categories are:

Digital Collaboration  

These enable employees to work from home or any other convenient locations. Examples include Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.

Digital Marketing

Tools that provide SMEs with templates to create social media ads and manage their digital ad buys and placements on a single platform.

This allows SMEs to easily manage targeted digital marketing campaigns and reach out to consumers on social media.

Digital Transactions

InvoiceNow-linked solutions offered by bank partners are integrated with e-payment including PayNow Corporate to enable SMEs to generate/receive e-invoices through InvoiceNow and receive/make e-payments seamlessly.

These solutions help SMEs improve transaction accuracy and administrative productivity. Both e-invoicing and e-payments are part of digital utilities which IMDA is putting in place as baseline infrastructure for the digital economy. Similar to their physical counterparts, digital utilities provide common standards and ease of transactions for businesses.

Signing Up for Start Digital packs through Start Digital partners

SMEs can sign up for Start Digital Packs through any of these Start Digital Partners: DBS, M1, Maybank, OCBC, Singtel and UOB. SMEs can select any two Start Digital solutions with a contract period of at least 18 months and receive at least 6 months of fee waivers. After the fee waiver period, SMEs pay for the solutions as per Partners’ rates and contractual terms.

Eligibility and terms

Business entities, including sole proprietorships, are eligible for Start Digital if they:

  • Have at least 30 percent local shareholding;
  • Have annual revenue of not more than S$100 million or have fewer than 200 employees, at group level; and
  • Have not taken up solutions under Start Digital before.

Interested SMEs can approach any of the Start Digital Partners directly for more details and to sign up.

Emphasising the importance of digitalisation, Ong states that it will be a permanent and enduring change. “We will shift to a new world where digital is integrated into all aspects of our business operations for companies big and small,” he says.

“The advantages that digital tools and processes offer to SMEs will provide a permanent edge to digital adopters. According to a study by Cisco-IDC, “digitally mature SMEs enjoy twice as many benefits in terms of revenue and productivity, compared to SMEs that have an indifferent approach to digitalisation”.

“Hence SMEs need to quickly adapt. New SMEs, as well as those that have not digitalised, need to minimally equip themselves with foundational digital solutions. Such tools enable their employees to continue to work remotely. By tapping on Digital Utilities like e-payment and e-invoicing, SMEs can transact with one another seamlessly.”

He concluded saying that “an enterprise who stays nimble is also a resilient one. Enterprises need to be nimble to remain resilient in the face of changes. Being receptive to digitalisation will enable you to unlock new channels of revenue and opportunities for your business in a world still ravaged by COVID-19.”