Digital consultant from IMDA's tech hub helped business behind Auntie Anne's

Ms Olivia Sulaeman was forced to halt business at her six Auntie Anne's outlets during the circuit breaker in 2020. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - When Ms Olivia Sulaeman was forced to halt business at her six Auntie Anne's outlets during the circuit breaker last year, the chief executive decided to make use of her spare time and look into digitalising her business instead.

But without an in-house tech expert at her company Chrisna Jenio, the chief executive turned to the Internet and was overwhelmed by information overload.

"There was just too much information available online that we didn't know how to filter through them," said Ms Sulaeman, 28.

She decided to seek the help of a digital consultant at the Infocomm Media Development Authority's SME Digital Tech Hub in May last year.

In the span of just two to three months, the consultant helped her identify and implement suitable digital solutions to help her automate her payroll and claims processing system, among others.

This helped her shave time off her business processes, said Ms Sulaeman, noting that her firm now takes just four to five hours to process its payroll, down from the previous average of two to three days.

The digital consultant also helped her identify new areas where her business could go digital, said Ms Sulaeman, adding that she had also upgraded her point-of-sales system into a cloud-based system that allowed her to have a better idea of her daily sales.

"I think it was very valuable because (the consultant) started with painting the big picture, with what it means to digitalise and what are the avenues of digitalisation... so it was very helpful to identify and prioritise our needs," said Ms Sulaeman.

She added that an upcoming initiative to allow more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to consult chief technology officer-equivalents (CTOs) - similar to what she did - would be very welcome, as a lot of SMEs do not have the spending power and access to CTOs.

"I felt the support I got was really very valuable; without it, I think I would still have been where I was last year, and not digitalising any processes."

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