Tie-ups to help heritage-brand SMEs go digital

Singtel is teaming up with local polytechnics to help heritage-brand small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt digital technology. Riding on the 99% SME movement, this partnership aims to help preserve traditional businesses in Singapore such as tea merchants and tailors.

Singtel's partnership with Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic will assist SMEs in using digital tools to market their heritage brands on online platforms and enhance outreach, as well as nurture their e-commerce skills.

Heritage brands are defined as such when they have existed for over 30 years and have been passed down from the founding generation to another.

Launched in 2015, the 99% SME initiative encourages people here to use products and services offered by SMEs.

This latest collaboration complements the partnerships Singtel forged with Nanyang Polytechnic and Singapore Polytechnic in March this year, to help retail and food and beverage SMEs in adopting digitalisation.

"Many SMEs with a long and rich heritage do not have the resources to market themselves effectively online or connect with younger, digitally savvy customers.

"Our partnerships with the two polytechnics allow us to help these SMEs evolve and digitalise their businesses, to preserve their heritage," said Mr Andrew Lim, managing director of Singtel's Business Group, Group Enterprise.

Singtel and Ngee Ann Polytechnic will assist multi-generational family-owned SMEs in digitalising their operations via business analytics solutions, enhancing their productivity and competitive advantage.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic principal Clarence Ti said: "Leveraging our expertise, we hope to help the SMEs use business analytics to enhance their e-commerce capabilities and drive results."

Singtel and Temasek Polytechnic will also focus on engaging SMEs with traditional businesses.

Students from Temasek Polytechnic's School of Business will guide SMEs on free online marketing. The polytechnic's principal and chief executive Peter Lam said: "Temasek Polytechnic is pleased to collaborate in this initiative to help local SMEs extend their consumer reach and visibility in the digital space." He added: "Our strategic heritage branding approach aims to leverage the rich history and uniqueness of our local brands."

Mr Lam noted that the SMEs will not be the only ones to benefit as the students can gain business insights and entrepreneurship experience from this partnership.

"This initiative provides our students with valuable real-life learning experiences that allow them to deepen their knowledge and apply their skills," he said.

Tiffany Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2017, with the headline 'Tie-ups to help heritage-brand SMEs go digital'. Print Edition | Subscribe