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New policy to help wholesale trade SMEs with digital transformation in Singapore

Through the newly launched Wholesale Trade Industry Digital Plan (IDP), small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the sector will now receive help with adoption of digital technology and internationalising.

Launched by Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, during his visit to SATS BRF Food, the new IDP will benefit more than 33,000 SMEs.

Part of the SMEs Go Digital Programme, the IDP is jointly developed by Enterprise Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), in consultation with industry associations, SkillsFuture Singapore, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the National Trades Union Congress. It is one of the strategies under the Wholesale Trade Industry Transformation Map that was rolled out by Enterprise Singapore in 2017 to help more trading companies adopt digital technology and internationalise.

It serves as a step-by-step guide to help wholesale trade SMEs embark on digitalisation and keep pace with industry transformation. Larger enterprises in the industry can also refer to the IDP to support their digitalisation efforts.

The plan comprises a three-stage digital roadmap that charts out the different digital solutions these SMEs can adopt at each phase of their growth, as well as the relevant training programmes required to enhance employees’ digital skillsets.

Broadly, the three stages are:

Stage 1: Getting ready for the digital economy The first stage helps SMEs to get ready for the digital economy and lists the basic digital solutions to stay competitive. One example is implementing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions for sales and inventory management to streamline operations and optimise resources.

Stage 2: Highlighting digital solutions The second stage highlights digital solutions that enable SMEs to connect with the global trading ecosystem and access new markets, such as plugging into B2B e-marketplaces and online platforms for supply chain financing and procurement.

Stage 3:  Identifying advanced digital technologies to improve competitiveness The last stage helps identify advanced digital technologies that SMEs can implement to improve their competitive edge in cross-border trading. These include using blockchain technology to enhance trade documentation processes, and artificial intelligence to predict sales trends and automate sourcing and purchasing needs.

As part of the plan, companies can consult the SME Centres and SME Digital Tech Hub for a comprehensive business diagnosis and advisory on digital solutions. Those looking to adopt productivity tools such as sales and inventory management solutions, can also select from the list of pre-approved solutions identified in the digital roadmap on Tech Depot.

Further, SMEs embarking on more advanced solutions such as developing digital B2B marketplaces or larger capability building projects, can seek assistance from Enterprise Singapore.

Microsoft to equip 2.2 million SME staff with digital skills by 2020

Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) launched the ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 - an initiative that pledged to equip 20 million ASEAN workers with digital skills and opportunities in the next two years. It also aims to address the employment and skilling challenges brought about by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As one of the first technology partners to join the pledge, Microsoft has pledged to provide 15,000 university students with internship opportunities, deliver digital skills training to 2.2 million SME employees, and to hire 8,500 digital workers by 2020 across ASEAN.

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