UOB Thailand strengthens its 2022 Smart Business Transformation Programme with addition of new partner, Hubba
In anticipation of the growing need for digitalisation among small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as they grapple with COVID-19, UOB Thailand has added a new partner in its 2022 Smart Business Transformation Programme (SBTP) to share deeper insights into digital transformation trends. The new partner, Hubba, is Thailand’s first entrepreneur and innovative platform guiding more than 2,000 entrepreneurs such as Bitkub, Thailand’s second unicorn.
In addition, more than 200 SMEs participating in the three-month programme will be provided with a practical guide on how to implement sustainable practices, integrate employee well-being into the design of work, as well as embed diversity and inclusiveness to drive business growth. All of these elements are necessary for achieving organisational success and driving business competitiveness. The SMEs will also be able to pick up digital skills in areas such as business re-engineering, digital marketing and customer development, and to gain access to digital solutions that can help them to sharpen their business competitiveness.
Ms Sirinun Jiradilok, Head of Digital Engagement and FinTech Innovation, UOB Thailand, said, “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on most businesses during the last two years, highlighting the need and urgency of digital transformation. Based on our studies , we found that SMEs are reviewing their business strategies to focus on digitalisation, digital marketing and customer experience to gain a competitive advantage.
“ Our research has also shown that more than one in two Thai consumers are buying sustainable products as part of their efforts to mitigate impact of climate change on their children’s future well-being. While transforming their business digitally is crucial for long-term growth, SMEs also need to integrate sustainability into their business strategy as part of risk management, to increase competitiveness and to enhance their bottom line.”
Mr Charle Charoenphan, CEO and Co-Founder of HUBBA, said, “Since 2012, we have provided community and incubation to help early-stage companies discover product-market fit and launch a successful business. Since the pandemic, we have observed shifts in consumer behaviour; it is an opportunity for SMEs to reassess business model and strategies to understand their customers. The faster businesses gain insights into their customers’ needs, the greater their competitive advantage. Aside from digitalisation, SMEs require guidance and support on people management. We have seen many business owners struggling with effective people engagement, therefore we have incorporated culture transformation training sessions as it plays a crucial role in employee’s attitude and motivation which drive the businesses forward.”
Collaborative efforts to drive SMEs’ digitalisation for the digital economy
The Smart Business Transformation Programme (SBTP) is run by The FinLab, UOB’s innovation accelerator in collaboration with the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (depa), National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), the Office of SMEs Promotion (OSMEP). These partners have supported the SBTP for the last three years.
OSMEP, as the policy maker for the support of SMEs in Thailand, has designed policies and plans to help SMEs leverage technology to grow their businesses. Mr Veerapong Malai, Director-General of OSMEP, said, “Thailand has around 3.2 million SMEs. To help them advance and stay competitive in the market, we encourage them to enroll in the SBTP which provides a fast track to developing digital skills, access to digital experts, consultation and assistance for their digital transformation.”
The NSTDA has provided consultancy and expert services on digital transformation as well as partial fund to subsidise on digital transformation consultancy to participating SMEs through the Innovation Technology Assistance Programme (ITAP). Mr Chalermpol Tuchinda, Vice President – NSTDA, said, “The three years of collaboration between NSTDA and UOB Thailand has been a success with 35 Thai SMEs adopting technology under the guidance of subject-matter experts to raise their competitive advantage. The participating SMEs have also contributed 30 million baht to the broader economy and driven 20 million baht in private sector investments. ITAP has allocated five million baht to subsidise up to 50 per cent of these SMEs in their expenditure on digital transformation consultancy.
depa provides technology solutions support to the participating SMEs. Mr Chatchai Khunpitiluck, Senior Executive Vice President, depa, said, “The three-year collaboration with UOBT has shown the effectiveness of digital transformation among SMEs, as well as the expanded market opportunities for Thai technology solution providers. We believe that not only will the participating SMEs be able to adopt digital solutions effectively through the SBTP, the programme will also open up huge opportunities for business-matchmaking among entrepreneurs, SMEs and technology solution providers. Such successful connections will contribute to Thailand’s transition to a digital economy.”
The SBTP has attracted more than 4,000 SMEs in Thailand since its inception in 2019. More than 600 SMEs have adopted technology to improve their front-end marketing and back-end operational processes.
The SBTP is open to SME business owners or decision makers who are open to explore new ideas, keen to adopt technology and to invest in digital tools and are able to commit their time throughout the three-month programme. Interested SMEs, regardless of sector, can apply for the SMTP at www.facebook.com/uob.th or https://thefinlab.com/th/thailand till 31 March 2022.