Digital transformation imperative for Vietnam and its neighbours

Friday, Aug 17, 2018 17:48

Speakers during a session on the second day of the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Việt Nam, and Thailand (CLMVT) Forum 2018, held in Bangkok from August 16 to 17. -- VNS Photo Linh Anh

By Linh Anh

BANGKOK — “Digital transformation or lose?” is a key message raised during the second-day of the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand (CLMVT) Forum 2018, held in Bangkok from August 16 to 17.

The session features senior policy makers and representatives from some of the most remarkable tech startups and successful SMEs from CLMVT and non-CLMVT countries who share their experiences on how to successfully integrate new technologies into their businesses and production networks.

Digital transformation is an inevitable trend that start-ups and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs) in the CLMVT region have to embrace sooner rather than later to remain in the race, said Oudet Souvannavong, President of Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“If business are not linked to technology, they with definitely lose,” Souvannavong said, adding that digital transformation is the key for business to move towards the new trend.

Giving an example, he said there are currently about 100,000 registered enterprises in Laos, 95 per cent of which are SMEs, with 91.8 per cent private owner enterprises.

“However, although there are many SMEs and startups, their capacity remains low. They also suffer many constraints, including a low level of knowledge and awareness about start-ups, limited access to finance and limited infrastructure. Besides, laws, regulations and incentives for start-up promotion are not in place,” Souvannavong said.

He said Laos needed to put startups on the national agenda, following the example of Việt Nam, India and Thailand, to get public attention.

The country should also enact laws, regulations and incentives to support the growth of start-ups and invest in infrastructure, like internet systems, technology centres and working spaces. Education systems need improving and there should be more budget allocation to promote start-up activities and innovation initiatives.

Regarding cooperation for start-up development in CLMVT, he said the region should exchange policy and regulatory framework development for start-up promotion, enhance the existing ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) states start-up network and create a special network under CLMVT Technology Infrastructure, including soft infrastructure and projects.

Enhancing technological capabilities of SMEs and start-ups as well as embracing digital technologies to promote a creative economy must be ensured, said Nguyen Ven Anh, Country Head of Grab for Business, Grab Vietnam.

Anh said technology transformation brought about numerous benefits for start-ups. “Technology helps us to re-define our business model, the products we are making and the way we are serving our customers,” she said.

“Digital technology helps us deliver better quality products at lower cost to clients, leverage the value of our services and enhance the access of customer to our products,” she said.

For his part, Soe Naining, Director General of the Ministry of Industry in Myanmar, said to realise maximum mutual benefits and achieve sustainable shared prosperity in the era of disruptive technologies, it is critical that CLMVT countries exert more efforts to promote inclusive economies.

Moreover, as the push for more inclusive growth gains momentum around the world, it is imperative that our young entrepreneurs are encouraged to adopt inclusive business practice at the outset of their careers.

Wittawin Vidthayanon, Co-Founder of Somjai (Online) Ltd said the business environment has changed as a result of the new wave of technologies.

SMEs, startups, and young entrepreneurs, as key drivers of the CLMVT economies, are increasingly under pressure to adopt new technologies, not only to enhance competitiveness and their integration into the global market, but also to create value and better livelihoods for all stakeholders in their value chains.

However, he said, there were still factors preventing companies from digitising, including the lack of skills and resources, cyber security and growing threats and an isolated and resistant culture. — VNS

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