The digital economy is driving growth nowadays, and it is getting hard for business owners to do cross-border trading or access the global market if they do not embrace digital transformation, the 2017 APEC Online-to-Offline (O2O) Initiative Forum heard in HCM City on Sunday.
Pei-Ti Hu, deputy director general, small and medium enterprise administration at the Chinese Taipei Ministry of Economic Affairs, said in her opening speech: “Chinese Taipei aims to enhance SMEs digital competitiveness and resilience with co-operation between the public and private sectors.”
SMEs are the engine of economic growth and prosperity, and over the past few years they have been dramatically transformed by technology, she said.
“The digital revolution and innovation have totally changed the way we all do business. SMEs now have the ability to access customers by using the internet.
“However, digitisation now brings SMEs not only opportunities but also challenges such as more exposure to cyber ethics. Many SMEs remain unprepared for [cyber ethics] and awareness of [digital resilience] remains low.”
Policy makers from APEC economies, owners of e-commerce platforms, incubators, accelerators and experts were encouraged to support SMEs/startups in fully utilising the opportunities created by digital technologies.
The APEC O2O initiative also aims to raise awareness of digital resilience among SMEs/startups since the development of digital technology also brings more exposure to cyber threats.
APEC realises that cyber threats have become a growing concern and crucial challenge to all firms regardless of size and therefore it is vital to prepare SMEs/startups to defend themselves from those threats.
“It is only when SMEs fully understand the opportunities and challenges of digital transformation they are able to unleash their potential for sustainable, innovative, inclusive and quality growth towards a shared future,” Hu said.
The one-day forum attracted around 100 stakeholders.
There was a conversation keynote titled “O2O Business: Opportunities and Challenges of Modernizing SMEs to Go Global”, an innovation dialogue titled “Unleash the potential of SMEs through digital transformation for a Shared Future”, an APEC innovation study and a board meeting where experts offered advice and guidance on business plans presented by start-ups.