Feature Articles



Digitising SMEs Across Southeast Asia

SMEs are a big and vital part of the Malaysian and the broader Southeast Asian economy. With over 900,000 SME establishments of all sizes, SMEs make up 98.5% of business establishments in Malaysia across various sectors - from services, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and mining. Of the services segment, local day-to-day needs such as home repairs and renovation, cleaning, beauty, weddings, accounting and other small business services form an integral part.

Over the years the business models for services SMEs have evolved but unfortunately, there has not been a lot of innovation to help these SMEs grow their business, increase their revenue and improve the overall quality of their services.

The current landscape for some of these services SMEs is highly fragmented and disorganised. The use of outdated marketing tools, unsystematic backend processes and arbitrary pricing are some of the issues faced by consumers and vendors alike.

Some vivid examples that may ring a bell include marketing and advertising materials on trees and poles, adding to a lack of legitimacy and trustworthiness. Dated bookkeeping, scheduling and payment information are often still compiled in little “555” notebooks (or other equivalents) which in turn can contribute to missed appointments and a general lack of preparedness in handling the service well, leading to unhappy customers. Given the typically ambiguous nature of customer requirements (for example, plumbing problems) and a lack of pricing benchmarks, customers also often question the charges imposed on them.

Typically, none of these challenges are the fault of either the service SMEs or the consumers - from our perspective, they are simply gaps in information, transparency and understanding that can be solved through the use of technology and digital products tailored specifically to the services space and the SMEs.

Kaodim recognises this as both a problem and opportunity to add value and positive impact to the Malaysian economy. Our core purpose as a business is to help service SMEs and entrepreneurs grow their business. We aim to provide our vendors with infrastructure to manage their day-to-day operations and get more jobs to grow their businesses through digitisation.

One of the key areas that we focus on is to help service SMEs professionalise and market their services better. Through certifications, background verification and providing a platform for the SMEs to collect customer reviews of past work well done, the SMEs are able to build professionalism, credibility and trust that was previously out of reach. This drives more demand for their services and directly helps them grow their business.

In addition, Kaodim’s infrastructure helps these SMEs organise and improve their day-to-day operations - from scheduling, messaging, time and job management as well as other backend processes like invoicing, receipts and billing. This is all provided to the SMEs for free on a mobile app designed specifically for them. Through the quick access and convenience from the mobile app, the SMEs work more efficiently and provide a better experience to their customers which in turn, helps them improve their businesses.

Through the use of data, algorithms and artificial intelligence, Kaodim also provides valuable insight on pricing to help the SMEs price competitively relative to the market demand. Through these insights, the SMEs often are able to increase their profit margins even though they lower their prices. This is a direct result of the additional volume and efficiencies that are driven through the Kaodim platform.

Visions for the future

As the economy continues to mature, it is important for SMEs to move towards digitisation to help them stay competitive and grow in an increasingly global marketplace.

SMEs have to reinvent themselves and find new ways to approach their customers or offer enhanced services that correspond to the ever sophisticated and customer. This is particularly true in this era of instant gratification, automation and artificial intelligence, where competition is rife and customers want everything instantly. We believe it is no different when it comes to services.

In this sense, we consider it a great privilege and responsibility to equip these SMEs with innovative digital technologies, so they can continue to grow their business and make positive contributions to the economy.

For more information about KAODIM, please visit www.kaodim.com