David Ng, the Group Chairman of VE Capital Asia, would know a thing or two about being productive.
In the 30 odd years that he’s spent in the local tech scene, he’s been involved in more than 30 companies in different capacities – from co-founding the Asian arm of data networking hardware company Linksys in the late ‘90s and later, running games publisher Electronic Arts Asia as the general manager, to setting up goGame, a mobile game publisher backed by video game giant Sega.
Being productive you could say, has always been Ng’s bread and butter.
These days though, his focus is on helping other companies, and in particular, small-medium enterprises (SMEs), keep pace in a world that not only demands that companies adopt technology for immediate business continuity, but also to survive and thrive in the long run.
“As a result of the pandemic, digitalization is no longer a want, but a need,” says Ng
In July last year, he joined VE Capital Asia, a management consultancy firm specialising in tech solutions for SMEs, with a mission to help these businesses through their digital transformation. Since the start of the pandemic, VE Capital has seen an increase in the number of companies seeking guidance to make sense of a rapidly changing business environment.
“From all the companies that we worked with, we saw three distinct types: Businesses that needed an online presence and digital marketing; businesses that reach out to multiple marketplaces through omni-channel platforms and needed tech solutions to simplify the processes; and larger enterprises in the logistics and e-commerce space that require the deployment of big data and robotic automation for their warehousing and logistics needs.”
It was a gap that needed urgent plugging, and VE Capital itself had to adapt its model to the surge in demand.
Ng explains: “VE Capital started off as an investment vehicle, investing in businesses specifically in the digital realm, which then moved into providing end-to-end solutions. In order to achieve business sustainability when the pandemic hit, we had to evolve; we did this by providing the services via the companies that we’d acquired.”
Under his stewardship, the company went on to acquire six companies in six months, each specializing in a different niche area in the technological sphere, therefore, bolstering VE Capital’s own tech capabilities.
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- DEMYSTIFYING THE PROCESS
- THE JOY OF HELPING
DEMYSTIFYING THE PROCESS
Of course, digitalisation is hardly a new trend.
According to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Digital Acceleration Index, an annual survey of more than 2,000 firms across 23 sectors, digitalization has been picking up pace across Singapore’s economy. Since 2017, more than 80,000 firms have benefitted from the SMEs Go Digital program, which offers recommendations on digital solutions, frameworks on adopting digital solutions, and lists of pre-approved solutions.
Earlier this year at Budget 2022, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong also announced that $600 million will be set aside to help SMEs further boost their productivity by digitalizing and automating their business processes. With the new funding, the range of pre-approved solutions will be expanded, which he encouraged more SMEs to tap on.
The government’s concerted effort to put SMEs on the track for digitalization is an opportunity that VE Capital is well-placed to capitalise. Its strength: The ability to simplify the process even further for SMEs.
“Having been involved in so many companies including several start-ups, I am well aware of the challenges that SMEs face. For example, many lack the understanding of what ‘going digital’ means exactly.”
“Having been involved in so many companies including several start-ups, I am well aware of the challenges that SMEs face. For example, many lack the understanding of what ‘going digital’ means exactly,” says Ng.
His observations are echoed in the One step report conducted by cloud accounting software company Xero, which surveyed more than 4,200 small business owners across several countries including Singapore on the human barriers to technology adoption. According to the survey findings, a sense of ambiguity stemming from a lack of confidence in understanding new technology, as well as choice paralysis are some of the main factors that impact whether or not business owners end up adopting technology for their companies.
Explains the survey: “Owners and decision-makers tend to struggle with knowing how to research the different options, and where to even start.”
This is where VE Capital comes into play. “We provide the necessary education by first assessing their needs. After that, we build the blueprint for digital implementation, train their staff and lastly, implement the solutions for them,” Ng summarises.
Ng shares the story of helping a particular company in the retail e-commerce industry develop a full business end-to-end digitalization system in their new warehouse. After identifying tedious and non-revenue generating processes in its sales and warehouse operations, VE Capital then put in place solutions, such as an autonomous vehicle in the warehouse and an omnichannel order management system to manage and scale up business operations.
These implementations afforded the company optimal warehouse storage and the ability to run 24/7. The integrated systems that facilitated communication between different departments also helped maximise the productivity of manpower.
- DEMYSTIFYING THE PROCESS
- THE JOY OF HELPING
THE JOY OF HELPING
Business achievements aside, being able to bear witness to these successes – of SMEs gaining insights into their customer base, adopting technology to scale their businesses, and achieving growth as a result – has been the most satisfying part of his job at VE Capital, shares Ng.
“As we build up our customer base and help more companies to scale, we’ve also started to acquire more solution providers that add value to the overall ecosystem, hence enhancing our offerings.”
“I am also very lucky to be working with a group of young and driven professionals that share a common strong belief that their work is benefiting the economy as a whole,” he adds.
And ultimately, there’s only so much technology can do when it comes to driving and motivating a productive workforce. The key to the always-on mentality that Ng keeps, he says, is to “do what you love and love what you do” and inspire others to do the same.
“Businesses are driven by people – how well you are able to inspire or motivate others will determine the success of the business. Keeping in constant contact with them, setting out clear goals and direction for your business are of the utmost importance.”