SMEs in Thailand has had a tough time during the pandemic. This forced SMEs to fundamentally redesign their business models for “Next Normal”, especially using critical systems and IT infrastructure that enable the company to regain business continuity and prepare for company’s growth.

According to the regional study Digital, Resilient, and Experience-Driven conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics, it uncovers the state of businesses and their strategic priorities, as well as challenges and opportunities for post-pandemic growth.

SMEs in the region find it increasingly challenging to keep pace with uncertainties and external challenges in the current business environment. SMEs surveyed cite difficulty adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace (40% vs. 29% of larger enterprises), keeping up with changing customer wants and needs (38% vs. 43%), and difficulty retaining customers or driving repeat business (34% vs 30%) as top challenges to meeting their strategic priorities.

In Thailand, SMEs are focused on cutting prices on their goods and services (89%) and developing user-friendly digital experiences are second priority to improve customer and employee experiences. This focus on differentiating themselves from competitors will likely endure as businesses aim to recover from the global pandemic.

Thriving in the ‘Next Normal’: Digital Transformation and SMEs Post-Pandemic Business Success

COVID-19 has accelerated the need to further digitalize operation process to be more resilient especially for SMEs. Of all the approaches that firms have taken to empower digital resiliency to bounce back strongly to the ‘Next Normal’ of the post-COVID environment, implementing software has been among the most popular and effective – but between all the approaches, what SMEs should take in their post-pandemic is digital transformation.

“Many organizations are making the shift to digital, integrating new digital technologies and processes to transform the way they operate and do business while a lot of them are already a long way down the road with this process, but a large number are still finding it difficult to fully optimize their approach,” said Atul Tuli, SAP Indochina Managing Director. “At SAP, 80% of our customers worldwide are SMEs. SAP helps Thai SMEs customers embark on the digital transformation journey and transform their business into intelligent enterprise across diverse industries such as Retail, Healthcare and Consumer. We found that they are now facing significant challenges in the areas of talent attraction and retention, cloud adoption, and gaining insights from data.”

“To pave the way for sustainable recovery and successfully prepare themselves for the “Next Normal”, adopting the right technologies with cloud-based represent a major opportunity for them to build differentiation and resiliency. The cloud solutions can increase more scalable, flexible and accessible. Combining with intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, internet of things, companies will be able to collect, manage and derive data-driven actionable insights. That allows SMEs target where opportunities exist and realize operational efficiency” Atul Tuli shared.

Set a ‘Future Growth’: Cloud Solutions Set SMEs for Their Future Growth

For SAP, cloud business became a third of business globally in 2020 and cloud business in the Asia-Pacific region grew by 18%. In the past, there was a distinct divide between large enterprises and small companies. SMEs had to struggle with significant barriers to entry. They had insufficient funds, couldn’t scale quickly enough, and lagged behind with technology. As cloud solutions emerged, it became possible to resolve most of these concerns. Cloud is a catalyst for small and medium enterprises to achieve scalability and keep pace with growth.

Noppadon Chareonthong, SAP Sales Director, Thailand and Emerging Market, saidSMEs are the backbone of Thai economy. As we adapt to the new realities, cloud-based services will play a key role to improve operational capability. Many SMEs in Thailand have transformed their businesses to stay resilient on cloud. For example, DoHome, one of Thailand’s leading comprehensive retail and wholesale business of construction materials and home decoration, has pivoted away from its traditional business operation for their business expansion leveraging SAP solutions to help their management understand situation real time and make decision more efficiency in pandemic situation.

Thai Medical Glove, one of the top rubber gloves manufacturer in SEA, can holistic transformation their business to an intelligent enterprise, remove complexity with a simplified engagement and guided journey through cloud solution.

SAP is here to support and ready to be the trusted partner to offer cloud-based solutions like RISE with SAP and other comprehensive solutions that will help business transform holistically by changing the whole culture and mindset and redesigning business processes to unlock new ways of running business. This will boost the competitiveness of SMEs to engage so rapidly in digital transformation and empower them to bounce back strongly.”

About the Study

Oxford Economics and SAP surveyed 600 respondents across six Southeast Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand – including 400 from small and midsize enterprises with less than $500 million revenue and 200 from larger organizations. This survey was administered via a mix of computer-assisted telephone interviewing and online links between December 2020 and January 2021.

This followed a global study of SMEs conducted in between February and April 2020.

Respondents are senior executives (director and above) from a diverse range of industries including retail, financial services, manufacturing, high tech, wholesale distribution, engineering, construction, logistics and the public sector.