COVID-19 pushes businesses online

Thursday, Jun 11, 2020 09:41

Dang Hoang Hai, director of the Viet Nam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency. — Photo 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have seen the benefits of trading online. Vietnam News Agency spoke with Dang Hoang Hai, director of the Viet Nam E-commerce and Digital Economy Agency (IDEA), about the issue.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many businesses online, including those in Viet Nam. Is this a temporary reaction or a long-term trend?

Due to COVID-19, firms have seen the benefits of doing business online. Although they have considered this before, it was not until COVID-19 that they actually started to do it.

This is a significant experience for all businesses and will certainly be a long-term trend.

The Government, ministries, sectors, as well as corporations and large enterprises in Viet Nam, have specific roadmaps and plans for digital transformation. But what about small, medium, and micro businesses, or start-ups?

In reality, the number of Vietnamese enterprises which digitally transform themselves is still modest. Our survey in 2018 found that up to 90 per cent of enterprises were not ready for digital transformation. This showed that there are many challenges that need overcoming.

Even for big companies which have a specific roadmap and plan, the conversion is still slower than we expected. For small and medium-sized enterprises, digital transformation is a big challenge in terms of capital resource, infrastructure investment and people.

We have realised that there is a lot of work for businesses and there must be State support policies for companies to do digital transformation faster and keep up with the world.

Statistics show that internet users in Viet Nam made up 94 per cent of the population last year. Is this a favourable environment to promote digital transformation in the country?

This is considered one of the advantages that helps Viet Nam achieve success in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our outstanding features are a young population, rapid adaptation to digital technology, along with large internet coverage and infrastructure, which is quite good compared to the world average.

All surveys show that people and businesses assess that digital transformation will give them more opportunities than risks. All of these are positive signals that bring success to Viet Nam in digital transformation.

The potential is huge, and businesses are aware of the importance of digital transformation, but what is still holding Vietnamese businesses back?

This is something we are very concerned about and are continuing learning to support businesses.

One of the things that is most visible is that firms which start digital transformation often think of online businesses. This is not wrong because selling products online will directly affect the production and business situation. But it is not enough.

But the much more important thing is corporate governance. Digital transformation should start from corporate governance. It means the entire management process must be digitised.

For example, a supplier of necessities in the market, which switched to online business during the COVID-19 outbreak, realised that there were many problems. Products that were not digitised can not be sold online, which means the company is unable to manage the status of the products.

From this small example, we can see how important digital transformation in corporate governance is and that digital transformation directly affects the business results of an enterprise.

How is the connection and co-operation between businesses, traders and technology solution providers, especially start-ups?

Before, companies usually launched their own website to put products for sale. But they had to invest a lot in technology infrastructure, not mention to the fact that running a website continuously and effectively is also a challenge, requiring a lot of costs.

Therefore, we now encourage businesses to sell products on available e-commerce platforms. This will help them do business more easily, as well as reducing difficulties and costs of building individual websites.

What solutions has the Ministry of Industry and Trade taken to help Vietnamese businesses move faster in the process of digital transformation?

The ministry has simultaneously implemented two solutions, one is to amend policies and issue new policies to support businesses to transform.

The second is to provide solutions to accelerate the transformation process at enterprises, helping businesses become aware of the benefits of this transition.

Specifically, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has researched and worked on a draft amendment of Decree 52/2013/ND-CP on the e-commerce sector.

Under the draft amendment, most of the problems in the e-commerce sector will be taken into account, so that obstacles will be removed, helping e-commerce firms do business more smoothly.

Along with that, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has projects and solutions that are really a push for businesses in transformation, such as connecting businesses' products, building Vietnamese pavilions on e-trading floors so that enterprises can participate in the bigger playground.

What about the legal corridor to help protect businesses and consumers in disputes related to online trading?

Business and consumer protection is one of our concerns. A system to handle customer complaints has recently been launched.

This system is connected to all stakeholders such as the Viet Nam Directorate of Market Management, the Ministry of Public Security and local management forces.

This is a completely new point, which means all information reflected by customers will immediately reach the authorities.

Complaints and petitions will be resolved more quickly. This is also a measure to help protect the reputation of businesses. — VNS

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