'Great ICT Sale' to target Malaysian SMBs

Country's government agency plans business-to-business fair, in bid to narrow "SME digital divide" and urge small and midsize firms to embrace IT.
Written by Edwin Yapp, Contributor

KUALA LUMPUR--Local small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) are facing an "SME digital divide" because many are still reluctant to embrace infocomm technology (ICT) as a means to improve their business opportunities, according to the government's industry custodian.

Saifol Bahri, vice president of industry development for the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), said SMEs in Malaysia are struggling to adopt ICT to boost efficiency, improve competitiveness and expand their reach and range of products and services.

"Unlike government-linked and multinational companies, we find that local SMEs are still not adopting ICT as an enabler," Bahri said Thursday at a briefing to unveil the Malaysia Great ICT Sale, an initiative targeted at local SMEs. "This is compounded by the uncertain economic times the country is facing."

To be held between Jul. 20 and Aug. 20, the ICT Sale is a B2B (business-to-business) showcase and the MDeC's bid to help SMEs adopt ICT as an enabler.

Bahri said the event is expected to gather over 50 vendors, creating product bundles targeted specifically at local SMEs. These include e-commerce, SaaS (software as a service), niche SME products, mobile-commerce and small office/home office (SOHO) offerings, he added. The MDeC expects the initiative to generate between 3 million ringgit (US$842,900) and 5 million ringgit (US$1.4 million) in online and offline sales.

"The government, through MDeC, is introducing this stimulus strategy that we believe will assist local SMEs to move up the value chain by leveraging ICT as a strategic differentiator," he said.

The sale will also help increase the demand for local ICT products and services, as part of the government's aim to spur domestic consumption, Bahri said.

In addition, SMEs in non-IT sectors such as manufacturing, retail and construction, will be able to purchase locally-made IT product and services at affordable prices, he added.

To extend the reach of the ICT Sale and promote the use of e-commerce, the MDeC teamed up with MyBizPoint and Telekom Malaysia's eMarketplace for SMEs, to provide an online catalog for potential sellers and buyers.

The Great ICT Sale will run in conjunction with the PIKOM National ICT Month (NIM) in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Baharu.

Edwin Yapp is a freelance IT writer based in Malaysia.

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