Keeping business agile with technology upgrade

It is imperative for businesses to adopt in order to stay competitive in the industry. But, would ‘old’ businesses take up the challenge of transforming long-established method with technology-forward system?

Understanding the delicate situation of digital transformation, United Overseas Bank (UOB) sets up a programme called ‘The FinLab’. The programme promotes acceleration with its main focus is propel growth of innovative financial technology (FinTech) and technology in companies and stimulate digital transformation for businesses.

Since its inception in 2018, The FinLab ran two acceleration cycles for FinTech companies chosen from more than 700 applications from 44 countries.

For its third cycle, The FinLab sets out to focus its programme on helping SMEs on their digital transformation, including matching suitable innovative FinTech and technology solutions with the needs of the selected SMEs.

In September this year, The FinLab announces the first transformation programme in Malaysia to help local enterprises digitalise operations to drive growth.

The businesses selected to participate are from a wide range of sectors including food manufacturing and distribution, food and beverage, healthcare, business consulting, automotive, logistics, and manufacturing who’ve expressed willingness to explore new ways of doing business and to adopt technology for increased productivity.

“It is not an easy task for established SMEs to make the changes, but this is why we are coordinating such programme. We want everyone to benefit from the technology development. We want every business to have equal opportunity to stay ahead in the industry by applying simple solutions that would benefit everyone from business owners to consumers,” says Pauline Sim, Co-Head, The FinLab.

“It’s about time that we try something that would benefit everyone the business, our employees and our customers too. If technology could help us grow, why are we not embracing it?” says Jason Tan, director at L&T Machinery Enterprise.

As the second generation business owner, Jason who took over the business right after school said that after applying one of the solutions matched to his business, he can see that both clients and employees are happier.

The L&T Machinery is one of the 16 SMEs selected to partake in Jom Transform Programme under UOB’s The FinLab initiative.

The SMEs participating in the Jom Transform Programme are subsidised by UOB Malaysia. During the duration of the programme, businesses will be mentored by the programme’s partners, which include Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor; Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents; telco company, Maxis; the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation and SME Corporation Malaysia.

Jeffrey C. C. Ong who is the managing director of Redfield Deluxe, an enterprise that owns several food and beverages brands said that agreeing to a change is not always easy but it is necessary especially in his line of business.

“We deal with many suppliers and menu selections. With the help of technology we are able to know which dishes are more popular at which outlet and without manual labour we get accurate details. What used to take weeks or months to gather, we now can see results in just hours.

“The digital transformation we adopt has not only increase efficiency but seems to be a solution for better service in the future it serves the purpose of our company.”


The FinLab first ran its business transformation programme in Singapore in 2015 before having a similar programme runs in Thailand in early 2019 before it was launched in Malaysia in June 2019, which received interest from more than 900 businesses across the country.

During the three-month Jom Transform Programme, the owners and key decision makers of the 16 businesses will be matched with technology partners to pilot and to assess the effectiveness of their digital solutions.

Third generation owner of a distribution company, Kum Wah Sdn Bhd, Simon Look Seng Hong said the adoption of technology is inevitable especially in his line of business.

“We can no longer rely on the traditional way of business. Today, tracking is very important. Everyone wants to be in the know. Inventory was easier too with the help of technology solution,” adds Simon who is currently holding the post of director in the business built by his grandfather.

It is the programme’s main objective, to garner to improve their workflow processes, to drive sales and customer loyalty and to create greater brand awareness with the implementation of digital solution.

“Over the past few months, we had the privilege of meeting many business owners and we see a common desire to develop a long-term strategic roadmap for business transformation, with digital adoption central to their plans.

“We have been working closely with the Malaysian businesses to run pilot projects with our tech solution providers and to help the participants accelerate the innovation process.”

“We hope with the help of technology these businesses can optimise their inventory, distribution and human resource management systems too,” adds Pauline.

Upon completing the Jom Transform Programme, the businesses will share their outcomes and learnings with the public on ‘Showcase Day’ which will be on Dec 4, 2019.


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