Further Supporting Vietnamese SMEs in Digital Transformation

10:20:24 AM | 6/28/2023

The digital transformation support program for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2021-2025, launched by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), aims to raise awareness and knowledge of digital transformation for all companies nationwide.

Digital transformation offers SMEs the opportunity to increase their efficiency and resilience

Positive results

The world political situation is complicated and unpredictable in 2023. Companies, including SMEs, have been heavily affected by rapidly rising interest rates weighing on their financial resources and raising production costs amid market demand contraction due to reduced purchasing power. In this context, the government determined that digital transformation is an inevitable trend and an important solution for enterprises to enhance their business performance, expand their markets, slash costs, and adapt to the new context of the digital economy.

In January 2021, the Ministry of Planning and Investment launched the Digital Transformation Support Program for companies in the 2021-2025 period and assigned the Enterprise Development Department to lead implementation.

In the first phase, the Enterprise Development Department collaborated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the USAID Linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises (USAID LinkSME) to create instruments and guidance for raising awareness and training digital transformation for businesses. Many tools and training contents are also digitized and built into video clips by the program to be easily and conveniently accessible to all people and businesses.

The program has to date achieved some positive results. More than 2 million visits to the program's instructional materials, training videos and experience sharing on digital transformation have been recorded. More than 1,600 companies have self-assessed their readiness for digital transformation to work out action plans. More than 10,000 businesses in 40 provinces and cities have been trained directly in digital transformation.

In addition, the program has made clear progress in awareness and investment in digital transformation among businesses. According to the Annual Business Report on Digital Transformation in 2022 by the Enterprise Development Department under the MPI, the survey of 1,000 companies showed that, in 2022, more companies are carrying out digital transformation and more companies set aside a budget for this activity, more or less (in 2021, many companies just considered, studied and consulted information, prepared for digital transformation). This progress mainly came from the maturity of conditions leaders and personnel in awareness, skills and experience relating to digital transformation.

Enhancing awareness of digital transformation

One of the important goals of the MPI's Business Support Program for Digital Transformation in the 2021-2025 period is to raise awareness and knowledge of digital transformation for all companies nationwide. To accomplish this goal, in 2021 and 2022, the Enterprise Development Department under the MPI coordinated with USAID through the LinkSME Project, localities and associations to organize a series of direct training sessions on digital transformation in 40 provinces and cities across the country such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai, Binh Thuan, Gia Lai and Vinh Long.

The training series helped make changes in the awareness and actions of SMEs in digital transformation, and helped companies understand the benefits of digital transformation in business and production models. In addition, training courses supported connecting organizations, associations and state agencies with experts and local businesses to help them apply digital transformation and capture new information and trends.

Specifically, the training series also helped direct digital applications in transforming business models, expanding new sales channels and approaching new customers. This is a very important activity in the current difficult period when businesses are facing many difficulties due to shrinking output markets and insufficient orders.

Ms. Bui Lan, a representative for agricultural companies in Gia Lai province, said: “‘Think big, act right and act fast’ is a saying that I liked very much in the past two-day training course. Throughout the course, I learned a lot of knowledge such as building a lean business model or applying some software to manage the business more effectively.”

Sharing the same view, Mr. Nguyen Hoang, a representative for mechanical manufacturing companies in Quang Ngai province, said: For small companies in Quang Ngai province, digital transformation is still quite vague and there is no clear roadmap. Our company has also used two ERP software programs but is still encountering many difficulties in job management. After the training course of the program, our company envisaged what it needed and had to prepare for the next steps.

"Like those in other localities, Quang Ngai province-based companies are looking forward to receiving more support from the program to carry out digital transformation in their business," he noted.

By Thu Ha, Vietnam Business Forum