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SMEs face challenges in digital transformation

Vietnamese small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are facing barriers in digital transformation and have a passive response to market changes, said Hoang Minh Chien, deputy head of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency (Viettrade).

Chien told an online conference on digital transformation for sales and marketing held in Hanoi on August 7 that Vietnam targets to become a digital country by 2025 under the national digital transformation programme. Of which, digital transformation for businesses would play a crucial role.

However, the SMEs did not have enough awareness about digital transformation. In addition, they lacked commitment and perseverance from leaders as well as information about digital technology. They also faced limited human and financial resources.

“Vietrade is gradually implementing training, consulting and events applying information technology and digital transformation to support enterprises to overcome difficulties in the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

Bui Hoang Anh, Director of the SME Centre under CMC Telecom Vietnam, said there are three clear trends in digital transformation in Vietnam this year, including data analysis, online payment/transactions and data security in the digital environment.

Digital transformation is strongly taking place around the world. But in Vietnam, the speed is still modest. A survey by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in 2020 at more than 400 businesses showed that 51 percent of businesses actively transformed digitally before the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. Meanwhile 25.7 percent of businesses were not interested but when COVID-19 happened, they started to catch up and find digital technology solutions; 17.5 percent of enterprises started to pay attention but they had not yet started to apply technology.

Nearly half of Vietnamese businesses have not actively converted to digital. But when the pandemic occurred with unpredictable developments, if enterprises do not adapt and catch up with trends, their business and development will certainly be affected, Anh said.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a driving force for businesses and people to change their habits and apply more technology in production, business and consumption. For businesses that do not keep pace with digital transformation, they will very quickly see their business results affected, and in the long run, they will be easily eliminated from the market.

Many businesses acknowledged the importance of digital transformation, but still faced challenges.

Chu Truong An, deputy head of the Ton Vinh Technology Development and Trading Company Limited, said: “We do not know where to start to digitalise while we are still applying information technology in production, business and export.”

“When implementing digital transformation, enterprises’ resources will be assessed for Viettrade and experts to support according to a roadmap. Enterprises could completely convert digitally and start from available resources. The most important factor is business owners’ commitment and persistence in digital transformation,” said Nguyen Thi Minh Thuy, Director of Vietrade’s Information Technology Application Centre.

She said Vietrade was completing the VECOBIZ ecosystem which is a platform that integrates trade promotion activities to serve businesses, such as exhibitions, promotions and trade connections. In the future, businesses could use this platform to find customers and exchange information. VECOBIZ also provided factors related to the business environment such as free trade agreements, non-tariff barriers and standards for export markets.

The online conference saw the participation of some 1,200 delegates from many provinces and cities nationwide to raise awareness and build capacity for individuals and enterprises in information technology application and digital transformation. This training focuses on sales and marketing skills for businesses. These are two important activities, contributing to improving sales and the image of businesses.

VNA