Next month, the Government's $80 million SMEs Go Digital Programme will be implemented to help more small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) digitalise their products, services and processes.
This programme replaces the seven-year-old iSprint scheme, which provides similar subsidies of up to 70 per cent of technology purchases and is capped at $300,000 for each SME.
The new programme will not only aid SMEs, but also help service providers like Enhanzcom, a small SME that has been helping other SMEs digitise their workflow for nearly a decade.
Enhanzcom founder and chief executive officer Edwin Seah, 49, said that the new programme makes the process of getting SMEs to adopt technology a lot easier.
"SME service providers like us can then focus on understanding their needs and providing a good solution; rather than giving justifications for their digitalising," he said.
Enhanzcom offers affordable, customisable and scalable digital workflow solutions to local SMEs through its Fitprise software. It is a Web-based software management system designed to fit and integrate business operational workflows in any industry.
Fitprise is the brainchild of Dr Song Bin, 60, a senior scientist at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).
It all began in 2002, when Singapore was starting to move towards a knowledge-based economy. At the time, Dr Song saw that, while big companies were able to integrate their IT systems into their workflow, SMEs did not have the budget to do so. So, he decided to work with two SMEs to see how they could digitise and streamline their workflow.
But after completing the two projects, he felt it would be too time-consuming and costly to build new solutions from ground up for other companies.
"I wanted to create a software platform that can be easily configured and quickly deployed in different companies and industries," said Dr Song.
His solution: A Unified Configurable Architecture (UCA) software development platform that would later form the backbone of Fitprise.
Seeing Dr Song's work and realising its potential, Mr Seah - who got to know Dr Song in 2007 through a mutual contact - seized the opportunity. He quit his previous start-up Vovici (also a software company) and started Enhanzcom with his own money, as well as with funding support from his wife and another investor.
It was good timing as well because Dr Song was looking ahead to other projects. "The problem with researchers like me is that, after finishing one project, we want to quickly move on to other projects," said Dr Song.
As for Mr Seah, he felt at the time that there was a "huge opportunity in helping local businesses establish a basic IT framework".
He cited a 2007 SME survey by the then Infocomm Development Authority, which reported that only around 3 to 7 per cent of local SMEs had adopted a digitised customer-relationship management or supply-chain management workflow system.
Enhanzcom licensed the UCA platform from SIMTech, and further developed it to become its own product, Fitprise. But development took three years before it was finally available in the market.
One of the major advantages of Fitprise is the shorter time needed to implement the solutions.
"While other such major solutions require around six months to implement, we can do it in about half the time," said Mr Seah.
In addition, Fitprise is up to 40 per cent cheaper than solutions from big brands like SAP and Microsoft Dynamics. This is due to a lower licensing fee, as it was developed locally at SIMTech and constantly updated through the years by Enhanzcom.
Mr Seah conceded that Fitprise might not have all the functionalities of these enterprise packages but said that it is a more robust system that meets the specific needs of SMEs rather than conforming to a standard package system.
"Most importantly, we have the local knowledge to help SMEs here," Mr Seah said.
To date, Enhanzcom, with only a staff strength of eight, has served more than 100 clients in Singapore, and at least 90 per cent of them are SMEs.
One of the company's first clients is local cable system firm LanTroVision. In 2011, it adopted Fitprise for an end-to-end business process- management system to address issues of staff accountability and ownership of projects.
"With the Fitprise system, those pain points were resolved, and LanTroVision has since saved at least $150,000 a year in manpower and time savings," said Mr Chan Thye Yuan, managing director of LanTroVision.
New Tech Venture, a local SME that specialises in electronics trading, implemented the Fitprise system in 2013. Previously, the company was using an old management system but it was not user-friendly for its order processing. Plus, employees cannot access the system when they are not in the office.
"We decided to adopt Enhanzcom's Fitprise platform, which is simple to use and accessible from mobile laptops," said Mr Vincent Goh, managing director of New Tech Venture.
Mr Goh added that since using the Fitprise system, the time for report compilations has dropped to 10min from the 45min for its old system.
Over the last five years, Enhanzcom has seen revenue growth of 45 per cent and the company was profitable last year.
However, Mr Seah is not resting on his laurels. "We need to take Fitprise out of Singapore," he said. Currently, Enhanzcom has five overseas clients in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, and he is looking to expand beyond that.
"We want to capitalise on the Government's push for SME digitalisation at least in these two years. But, at the same time, we understand the need to push overseas," he said.
He is focusing on the Indonesia market as he predicts that it could contribute up to 30 per cent of its revenue in the next two to three years.
Looking ahead, he hopes that with the right connections and resources, the company can strengthen partner relationships in Malaysia and the Philippines.
But his own vision is bigger.
"My personal goal is to make Fitprise the de facto business application for SMEs," he said.