[This is a sponsored post with Sidec.]
The Selangor Smart City and Digital Economy Conference (SDEC) was held from November 19 to 21, and this year it was held as a mixed event, organized by the Selangor Information Technology and Digital Economy Corporation (Sidec).
The 3-day event kicked off with a full 2 days of panel discussions with 45 distinguished speakers and concluded with Pitch@Selangor 5: Selangor Premier League.
Key themes from this year’s panel included discussions around fintech, agtech, traveltech, digital marketing and the digitization of SMEs, all of which are gaining in importance as the global economy recovers from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Selangor Premier League features 20 startups selected from 3 leading accelerators in Selangor: Selangor Accelerator Programme, Sunway iLabs Super Accelerator and ScaleUp Malaysia.
It is safe to say that it was an event packed with expertise and experience, and these were the highlights of SDEC 2021.
1. An insider’s view on digitization and fintech disruption of SMEs in Malaysia
The first panel discussion kicked off with an engaging discussion on digital trends in Malaysia and the current fintech landscape.
Speakers like Danny Chua from TNG Digital, Eric Chong from Boost Biz, Aizat Rahim from Dropee, and more appeared to share their insights.
From them, we learned that although Malaysia is increasing the pace of its business digitization, we still have more SMEs to bring into the 21st century.
Some ways this can be done include simplifying the onboarding process and lowering barriers to entry for SMEs online platforms.
Contrary to the common belief that too many players disrupt the market, the panelists believe that having more players will accelerate digital adoption. They also point out that digital payments are only the first step in the digital journey — it is just one solution to many more pain points.
This is where private sector players can fill gaps that existing institutions cannot, such as providing microcredit.
2. Find out how Malaysia’s tourism industry is recovering
On the topic of travel and tourism, speakers such as Roslan Sulaiman, Senior Associate Director, IT, Tourism Malaysia, and Rickson Goh, Founder and CEO, Tourplus took to the stage.
To sum up, the global population is in a period of retaliatory consumption. After being cooped up for so long, it’s no surprise that we’re willing to trade our hard-earned dollars for experiences that mean a lot to us.
But with international borders still not fully open, the focus is on domestic tourism. In fact, with international tourists dropping 83% in 2020 compared to 2019, domestic travel can even be said to be the savior of the industry.
Agencies and companies such as the Malaysian Inbound Chinese Association (MICA) have identified a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for each state in Malaysia and set about marketing it online.
An example is Selangor’s Sky Mirror, which is the backdrop for thousands of Insta-worthy photos. This is how the industry is using digitization to tackle the pandemic, but Tourism Selangor CEO Azrul Shah Mohamad also admitted that government agencies still have a lot to learn in this area.
As they are not necessarily the most digitally savvy in the travel and tourism industry, it is important that they engage and leverage the power of private sector players to accelerate the learning process.
3. Understanding the barriers to agricultural technology and the opportunities it presents
What is often considered a traditional industry is actually developing rapidly. But a long-standing problem remains that agriculture is an “undesirable” sector, which is why many children of farmers choose not to continue in the business.
Agritech could be a potential solution to this problem because it removes the need for manual labor and the high risks of traditional farming.
Some of the key areas that the government is focusing on to develop agtech in Malaysia include services such as farmer consultation, peer-to-peer lending, traceability, digital marketplaces and mechanization platforms.
In the future, more attention should be paid to impact investing, sustainable agriculture and development processes, renewable energy, etc.
4. Expert advice for staying competitive in e-commerce
We’ve heard it time and time again – the pandemic has accelerated the digitization of businesses and e-commerce has grown along with it.
So how can merchants ensure that they are still seen in a sea of red?
First, a panel of expert speakers featuring leaders from Lazada, JDMAas and PG Mall shared that merchants need to be familiar with the tools available to them and actually use them.
Just because you’re an online business doesn’t mean you can slack off in the customer service department.
In fact, you’re more likely to be forgotten if you’re an online-only business, so making your customers feel like they’re truly cared for is especially important for building lasting relationships in e-commerce.
Ongoing discounts and deals don’t guarantee a lasting fan base, so being smart about collecting data at your fingertips and knowing how to tell a great brand story will help you be memorable.
5. Reveal how subscription and leasing are the new ownership models
At Vulcan Post, we are seeing more and more subscription models being used for a variety of businesses and products, from bird nests to baby equipment.
It’s part of the sharing economy and may be a more sustainable way to ensure everyone experiences ownership of a particular product.
These models even penetrate the energy and healthcare industries, such as Plus Xnergy and DOC2US.
Subscription and rental models are attractive because they reduce the immediate financial burden on customers and lower the barriers to entry for product ownership. In short, they make it possible and easier for Malaysians of all income groups to benefit from a product or service.
With the impact of the pandemic on people’s financial situation, we are likely to see this industry continue to grow.
6. Innovative startups in the Selangor Premier League
After 2 days of participation and relevant group discussions, the highly anticipated Selangor Premier League kicked off.
A total of 20 startups took the stage to present their ideas and solutions, but only 5 made it to the finals. To qualify, participants must ensure they have made an important and meaningful contribution that can help the country recover economically.
These 5 end up being:
- champion- eMLab is a biotechnology company providing laboratory services,
- second place – POMEN, a car service and breakdown assistance app,
- third place – GFI Fintech, a solution provider for the financial industry,
- fourth place– NexMind AI is a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) artificial intelligence company that
- the fifth place– GO LOG, an intelligent cold chain logistics platform.
The start-ups won cash prizes of varying amounts from a RM30,000 prize pool. At the same time, the top 3 startups will have the opportunity to pitch to international investors during the subsequent Expo 2020 Dubai sponsorship trip.
Even though many of us were limited to attending SDEC 2021 from our laptops at home, it didn’t detract from the learning experience.
It’s been interesting to hear from experts about our country’s progress on current hurdles to overcome, our recovery strategy, potential opportunities across sectors, and more.
The only way it could possibly get better is to be there in person to communicate, but maybe that will be easier to do once our country better protects itself from COVID-19.
- Learn more about Sidec hereyou can watch the full SDEC 2021 event here.
Featured Image Credit: Sidec