Empowering SMEs to ride the stay-at-home-economy wave
In light of the continuing global pandemic, the fourth HKTDC SmartBiz Expo and the sixth HKTDC Hong Kong International Franchising Show, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), are being held online from 2 to 4 December, with official websites to introduce the two events. The virtual events have brought together more than 30 industry elites to share their insights at a series of webinars, examining the current business practices of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and looking at how to capture the business opportunities brought by innovative technologies, creative thinking, e-commerce and franchising amid the current challenges.
Today’s online opening session was officiated by Paul Chan, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
In her opening remarks at the event, HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong said: “While the global pandemic has necessitated these events to be held virtually, this offers brand-new online platforms to SMEs to explore the latest business opportunities and corporate transformation trends, covering areas such as innovation, creative thinking, technology applications and design. Both the SmartBiz Expo and Hong Kong International Franchising Show are very much focused on the new normal and the rise of the stay-at-home economy. Industry leaders will be sharing their points of view at a series of webinars covering topics like e-commerce, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and smart logistics solutions, rethinking how to fine-tune their business models amid the challenges.”
SmartBiz Expo captures opportunities brought by stay-at-home economy
Under the theme “Reimagine, Reinvent”, the SmartBiz Expo provides innovative business solutions to SMEs to help them maintain their competitiveness in the face of the pandemic and help them explore the stay-at-home-economy trend. In the face of an increasingly harsh business environment, the expo focuses on three key areas – how e-commerce and big data offer a brand-new customer experience, redefining working patterns through digitalisation, and how SMEs can apply technologies such as 5G and blockchain in their businesses.
COVID-19 has hit the world’s economy hard and affected almost all industries. It has also altered traditional working patterns, with numerous companies adopting flexitime or work-from-home arrangements – but how can enterprises boost productivity under these new arrangements? The expo kicked off this morning with “T-Chat: Riding the wave of the Stay-at-Home Economy and Managing a Remote Business”, with Robert Glazer, Founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, sharing insights on corporate culture under work-from-home arrangements, human resource (HR) transformation, and supporting corporations in adjusting to the new normal. Not only is Mr Glazer a renowned thought leader in corporate culture, he is also a bestselling author and renowned speaker. He ranked second on Glassdoor’s list of top CEOs for SMEs in 2018 and was on the Forbes list of 20 Speakers for 2017.
Experiencing e-commerce and big data technology
While facing the impacts of the pandemic, SMEs are also embracing new business opportunities, especially e-commerce, which helps consumers efficiently access all basic necessities. An increasing number of companies are using AI and big data technology to provide brand-new customer experiences through electronic platforms and online shops, helping them to capture new opportunities. This trend was in focus at a session titled “World SME Summit”, where Edward Yau, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR, delivered welcome remarks while industry experts examined the global economic outlook and shared market strategies that could help local SMEs grasp new opportunities.
The concept of the stay-at-home economy has developed rapidly and is more than just putting products online – it is also about creating a one-stop experience for customers. Gordon Lam, Board Executive Director, Bonjour Holdings, and Angel Cheng, Business Development Manager at SHOPLINE, examined the path to success for e-commerce, from platform development to influencer marketing, including new retail technology, online-to-offline (O2O) commerce, and live commerce. In another webinar, Cristina Ng, Senior Manager at OpenRice, shared her experience running a one-stop catering mobile application and how to make use of the latest technologies to analyse big date for the local catering market. Bianca Ho, Co-Founder & COO, Clare.AI, talked about how SMEs can adopt AI-powered customer service chatbots to enhance their business.
Digitalisation provides boost for productivity
The second day of the expo (Thursday, 3 December) will feature webinars on boosting corporate productivity, redefining traditional working patterns, enhancing productivity and competitiveness under work-from-home arrangements and strengthening cyber security. Peter Lee, Head of Corporate Business, Microsoft Hong Kong, and Ellis Ho, NetSuite Sales Director, ONE Pacific, will share on how companies can adopt new technologies to increase efficiency and effectiveness and make remote working more effective. In addition, representatives from the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC), the HKTDC and Hong Kong’s Competition Commission will introduce different funding and support schemes, as well as the competition ordinance, for SMEs. And, as innovative technologies become more widely used in companies of all sizes, IT experts will be on hand to offer advice regarding cyber security.
5G and blockchain technologies help enterprises adapt to new normal
On the last day of the expo (Friday, 4 December), a series of webinars will focus on how SMEs can apply technologies such as 5G and blockchain in their businesses. Nowadays, logistics and supply chain solutions are about much more than just transporting products from point to point, with a series of smart solutions – from manufacturing to warehousing and transportation – available in the market. Stefanie Chow, Deputy General Manager, Boxful, will introduce different kinds of smart supply chain solutions, such as a one-stop service for storage and delivery and a cloud-based inventory management system, that offer real-time information to help SMEs enhance their productivity and efficiency. Representatives from the Office of the Communications Authority, CSL Mobile, KARA Smart Fitness and Shan On Engineering Company will discuss how they have adopted the latest 5G technology in their businesses. And, with the Mainland China market anticipated to sustain its growth, experts from Zerotosix Technology Company and InSky Global eCommerce Ltd will share how to seize business opportunities under the new “internal circulation” model through various online sales and marketing avenues that can help companies penetrate the mainland market.
The HKTDC has long been committed to launching different solutions that can support SMEs in achieving their transformation goals. This year, in addition to the three-day SmartBiz Expo, the Council has launched a series of activities to help SMEs transform and be future-ready, including various seminars, programmes and workshops being held in November and December. A one-year online promotion programme called “Connect with Smart Advisors” will be launched, enabling experts in innovation and technology to demonstrate their products and technological solutions virtually on the SmartBiz Expo, Hong Kong International Franchising Show and hktdc.com Sourcing websites, helping SMEs to seize new business opportunities in the face of the pandemic.
International Franchising Show shares latest market information
Held concurrently with the SmartBiz Expo, the Hong Kong International Franchising Show is also holding numerous webinars, with industry players such as Franco Lee, Chairman of the Franchising, Licensing & Franchising Association of Hong Kong, sharing the latest business information and offering tips for success in operating a cross-border franchising business.
Concurrent events help SMEs improve competitive edge
In addition to the SmartBiz Expo and Hong Kong International Franchising Show, the HKTDC is also hosting other industry-leading events this month, including the Business of IP Asia Forum (3 to 4 December), DesignInspire (3 to 9 December) and the Asian E-tailing Summit (9 to 11 December). The events focus on new technologies across research and development, design, production, sales, and business expansion, supporting SMEs to explore opportunities and embrace the challenges presented by innovation and change.
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