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HP study reveals optimism among SMB owners

Some 60 percent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes, flexible work options and customized products and services identified as future strategies. However, cost effective solutions are required given cashflow remains top of mind and SMBs are unclear where to look or what such solutions are available. This is especially key where only 4 in 10 SMBs have a department or person responsible for innovation.

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Photo by Luke Chesser from Unsplash.com

HP Inc.’s latest study on SMBs in Asia-Pacific, “Survival to Revival”, surveying 1,600 SMBs across eight countries in Asia reveals over 50 percent of small-medium business owners expect not just to survive but thrive following the pandemic and feel that digital transformation will be a key part of this revival.

In response, HP is introducing integrated services-based print solutions including an HP Roam for Business bundle to make it easy to print on the go and enhanced HP SecurePrint a flexible, cloud-native solution that releases documents only to authorized users. 

Some 60 percent of respondents see digital transformation as key with innovation in work processes, flexible work options and customized products and services identified as future strategies. However, cost effective solutions are required given cashflow remains top of mind and SMBs are unclear where to look or what such solutions are available. This is especially key where only 4 in 10 SMBs have a department or person responsible for innovation.

“SMBs are the lifeblood of every economy in Asia but the pandemic has hit SMBs hard. As the engines of growth for Asia economies, it is critical for them to move past survival to revive their businesses,” said Ng Tian Chong, Managing Director, Greater Asia at HP. “This study provides us with the insights to provide practical help for SMBs so that they have access to an ecosystem of devices, tools and technology. With these resources, we want to help SMBs unlock innovation for customer and employee-centric experiences, as well as broadly upskill talent to rebound from the pandemic and prepare for the future.”

Completed in June 2020, the study surveyed across Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam found:

  • Companies most confident of bouncing back place high importance on digital adoption Across the region, nearly 60% view digital adoption as very important or essential. Indonesian SMBs are particularly sensitive to this need, with a full 74% believing it is essential or very important, as is Thailand, also at 65%.
  • Growth projections are significantly adjusted post pandemic. Across the region, 46% of SMBs expecting growth prior to the pandemic but that figure has dropped dramatically to just 16%. India and Vietnam are the most confident about post pandemic growth and Singapore, Japan and South Korea are least positive. 
  • Disruption to productivity is a common experience during COVID. Only 6% of SMBs recorded higher levels of workplace productivity compared to pre-COVID period while 43% recorded lower productivity.
  • Skills was identified as an issue: The pandemic amplified the lack of digital-first mindsets and skills within existing SMBs that hamper growth, affecting nearly half (44%) of respondents.
  • SMBs are unclear on where to look for assistance: Financial institutions rank high (31%); 60% of SMBs consider government support to be insufficient and/or are unclear on what support is available; only 19% of respondents turn to IT companies for help

A need for Talent

Underpinning all of this, is a need to identify digital talents who can help SMBs to transform the business. The majority of SMBs do not dedicate resources and/or invest in innovation as a discipline; it is more common to ask customers what they want, or simply mirror what the competition is offering. Only one in five SMBs have customized offerings, looked for new sales & supply-chain channels or introduced new lines of business.

In this respect, Indonesia (59%) and Thailand (51%) stand out for having the highest percentage of SMBs dedicating resources to innovation. Unsurprisingly, SMBs in Indonesia and Thailand are also most confident about business performance post COVID.

Services and solutions for SMBs

To support SMBs in adapting to new agile working environments, HP has introduced a suite of integrated services-based print solutions to enable SMBs to stay productive and effective no matter where they work. HP is now offering a one-year license for HP Roam for Business with a compatible HP LaserJet Pro 400-series bought by 31 October 2020, making it easy to print on the go from a mobile device and to retrieve the job touchless at any HP Roam-enabled printer within the company network

In addition, HP has enhanced HP SecurePrint which now supports all network types, including traditional networks behind a firewall as well as serverless print environments, helping customers simplify IT infrastructures. To empower workers the HP Workpath ecosystem, which enables workers to connect to cloud-based platforms directly from the Multifunction Printers (MFP), has expanded rapidly since it launched in November 2019, with 100+ apps available on the platform and thousands of apps deployed.

To meet the demands of the SMB worker’s multi-task, multi-place workday, HP PCs are designed to enable them to work anywhere when inspiration comes, giving them the performance that matches up to their creativity, and allowing them to collaborate seamlessly and effortlessly to bring their ideas to life

Security is a top priority in agile working environments. To ensure SMBs get ease of mind when working anywhere, HP is offering Sure Click Pro for free to all HP and non-HP Windows customers till September 30, 2020. HP Sure Click technology guards against malware, ransomware, and viruses embedded in email attachments or malicious websites.

HP is making it easy for SMBs to get their hands on the latest technology. Through initiatives like HP For Business in Thailand, HP has tailored a monthly subscription program with powerful devices with trusted security, and 24/7 technical support. The program helps relieve financial pressures on entrepreneurs in the short term and takes care of their IT management needs.

Continuous upskilling is critical for SMBs to revive and grow. The HP LIFE program offers free online self-paced training courses designed to help entrepreneurs and SMBs acquire new skills to grow their business, such as business communications, having a success mindset, social media marketing, and design thinking.

Methodology

In total, 1,600 SMBs completed the survey between 26th May 2020 to 7th June 2020, which comprised of 200 interviews in each of the markets: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Only an Owner, Partner, Managing Director, CEO, COO, CFO, or a Director of a business with less than 200 employees qualified for the survey. Interviews were split evenly between Micro Business (<10 employees), Small Business (10-49 employees), and Medium Business (50-199 employees). Multiple industries were represented including Retail/Wholesale, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Healthcare, Education and Financial Services.

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UPS helps its Phl customers maintain critical infrastructure following typhoon

UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

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Sitting in a tropical storm-prone belt of the Pacific Ocean known as ‘typhoon alley,’ the Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms every year. 

Last year, on top of dealing with the pandemic, the Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Goni, the most powerful tropical cyclone in the world in 2020. Goni, or Rolly as it’s locally known, ploughed through Luzon and affected 2.7 million people, displacing 31,000 and damaging or destroying 281,000 homes. Sanitation and hygiene become immediate concerns in the aftermath of a storm like this, with essential water infrastructure usually damaged.

West Point Engineering Supplies Incorporated provides specialized products and solutions to essential infrastructures in the Philippines, such as water, energy and meteorology. 

Among its list of projects is a 10-year program with the weather information services company, Earth Networks, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. They’ll collaborate to use weather monitoring sensors that provide earlier warnings for tropical storms. 

For West Point Engineering, speed and efficiency is essential in installing and maintaining specialized equipment like weather radars, which can save lives and homes. 

That’s why UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

Businesses like West Point Engineering will benefit from time-guaranteed palletized shipments above 70 kilograms to more areas in Bulacan, Mabalacat, Angeles City, Laguna and Batangas, allowing businesses to more easily and quickly replenish bulk inventories. This helps customers meet urgent, sometimes life-saving, delivery requirements. 

“We have been a partner of UPS for over seven years,” said Dennis Ziganay, president and CEO of West Point Engineering. “Through this pandemic, we’ve been able to meet the demands of these challenging times … thanks to UPS.” 

With businesses needing a more agile and precise process in responding to the needs of the market and its customers, accessibility is key in responding to natural disasters around the globe.

“Exporters, SMEs and long-time partners like West Point Engineering are important contributors to the local economy. As they grow and expand, we listen to their changing supply chain requirements and cater to their needs,” said Chris Buono, managing director of UPS Philippines and Indonesia. 

 “Whether it’s one of the several natural calamities that occurred in the Philippines or an ongoing pandemic, UPS is committed to delivering what matters for our customers as they bounce back from a difficult year,” Buono ended. 

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Community banks a key resource for small businesses when crises arise

Community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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With billions on the table for struggling small businesses, new research from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business finds that community banks are a critical source for helping these businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic through loan access.

“Smaller community banks have traditionally been an important source of funding for small businesses,” said Christopher James, William H. Dial/SunTrust Eminent Scholar and research author. “Community banks tend to be relationship lend­ers, characterized by local ownership, local control and local decision making. Relationship lenders had strong incentives to make… loans in order to preserve small business relationships in the face of the massive economic downturn caused the pandemic.”

In their research, James, Warrington Ph.D. student Jing Lu and Georgetown University Ph.D. student Yangfan Sun, find that community banks were able to respond faster to loan requests from small businesses as compared to larger banks. They also find that community banks made more loans per dollar of deposits than larger banks, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic.

“Community banks tend to specialize in lending based on close personal ties between the loan officer and the small business customer,” James said. “This type of lending requires providing branch managers with greater decision rights in making lending decisions. As a result, lenders at community banks were able to respond faster when the PPP was introduced.”

Consistent with community bank focus on small business lending and their faster implementation of lending, the authors find significantly more loans per small business in counties where community banks had higher market shares. More important, the authors find that higher levels of lending are associated with significantly fewer small business bankruptcies.

Overall, James, Lu and Sun’s research finds that community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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Shopee launches #TatakPinoy virtual trade fair to support Filipino businesses

Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Shopee consistently advocates for the growth of local businesses. Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which forced hundreds of Filipino businesses to close physical shops, Shopee supported over 1,000 sellers transitioning online through Shopee’s Seller Masterclasses and its partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and local government units. The initiatives helped Filipino entrepreneurs gain a basic understanding of e-commerce and digital marketing. Sellers were also able to master Shopee’s marketing tools, helping them achieve their maximum potential in e-commerce. 

To further strengthen support for local entrepreneurs, Shopee and DTI are set to launch the very first #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, a campaign that aims to promote products from Filipino brands and local MSMEs. From February 19 – 21, shoppers can discover local delicacies and pasalubong items, particularly those from Regions XII and IV-A, on Shopee. They can also buy products from Filipina-owned businesses, championed by Shopee and USAID’s partnership to empower local female entrepreneurs. 

In its statement, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion announced, “The Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion is proud to be a partner for #TatakPinoy on Shopee. This initiative will connect thousands of consumers to more than a hundred MSMEs on one platform. We invite Filipinos from all over the country to patronize and take pride in products that are certified #TatakPinoy from the National Trade Fair Pop-up Store and Go Lokal! Shopee Mall.”

Martin Yu, Director at Shopee Philippines, said, “We strongly believe in the importance of uplifting homegrown entrepreneurs. From microbusinesses to SMEs, these local brands all contribute to the Philippine economy’s growth as a whole. Considering that most local businesses still can’t promote their products outside of online platforms due to the pandemic, Shopee also wants to create the opportunity to showcase the best Filipino brands. We will continue to spearhead campaigns that help reignite pride and demand for local products and drive the growth of the economy.”

Aside from discovering high-quality local craftsmanship and assisting local businesses in the process, shoppers can enjoy exclusive discounts up to 10% off on participating Filipino brands such as Colourette, Vice Cosmetics, and Human Nature. 

Shoppers can also enjoy more deals when they checkout using ShopeePay. For more information about the #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, visit https://shopee.ph/m/tatak-pinoy

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