SME Go Digital Industry Briefing (21 July 2017) – Five Things Excide learned from the Briefing

SME Go Digital Program has been the focus of discussion for many technology vendors and solution providers. It is an effort by Singapore to spearhead the digital transformation efforts for Small and Medium Enterprises (“SME”).

Launched in April 2017, IMDA aims to enhance the digital readiness of SME by providing subsidies for their digital purchases. This scheme is meant to replace the seven-year-old iSprint scheme and Innovation and Capability Voucher (“ICV”) for Integrated Solutions.

On a side note, ICV has been extended to 31 December 2017. However, we notice that many providers have been taken off the list and the application check has become more stringent.

In this article, we would like to share some key takeaways from last Friday’s session.

More transparent but stringent approval process

One of the biggest barriers for solution provider is the lack of clarity on the pre-approval process. However, transparency could also result in more complaints and less flexibility for the government agency.

However, IMDA mentioned that the team is ready to take this risk and be transparent about their pre-approval process. While feedback could be expected, they will take them positively and use it to improve the internal process.

The solutions will be evaluated based on SME’s requirements, user friendliness, and price affordability. Unlike current schemes, the accreditation will only be valid for a year. The bar will be set higher over time, and present board-based criteria would be further refined. However, IMDA will give ample time for the solution providers to adapt to the requirements.

SME Digital Tech Hub

ASME has been awarded the operator rights for SME Digital Tech Hub. In partnership with IMDA, it will provide more specific advice for SMEs with more advanced technology needs.

Advisors at Tech Hub will help to diagnose their business needs, prescribe the right solution and guide them on the implementation. This approach could smoothen SMEs’ transition to adopting the technology.

The Tech Hub is expected to be launched later this year.

Focus areas – Cyber-security, Personal Data Protection and Data

Cyber-security, data analytics, and personal data protection are three priority areas mentioned during the briefing.

As part of Singapore’s push towards advanced manufacturing and a digital economy, these focus areas will be increasingly important. Critical systems will have to be protected as the country embarked on our digital transformation journey.

Data is also a key focus as we strive to be more data-informed. We need use these data to make critical decisions and remain a competitive edge. However, with more data collected, this also explains the growing importance of personal data protection.

Industry Transformation Map

IMDA will work closely with industry leaders to develop Industry Digital Plans (“ICP”). This ICP will be aligned to the Industry Transformation Maps (“ITM”). Industry consultations will be held with industry players and solution providers.

Two industry consultation sessions have been announced during the briefing:
Logistics: “A Nationwide Federated Locker network transforming the future of last mile deliveries in Singapore” – 16 August 2017 (Wednesday)
Retail: “Emerging digital technologies and innovations for the Retail Industry” – 18 August 2017 / 25 August 2017 (Friday)

The sessions will be by invitation only.

Digital platform

Data-driven innovation and artificial intelligence have been identified as the key growth enablers for companies and Singapore economy. IMDA has also called for submission for a commercially managed digital platform that will drive the adoption of these technologies.

The call for submission document can be requested on IMDA website. The deadline for pre-qualification proposals will be on 8 September 2017, 12 pm.

Deriving Business Strategy using Financial Model

There is a fine saying by Sun Tzu: “know yourself, and you will win all battles.” In the business context, I cannot think of a more tried and tested tool than the financial model which spurs entrepreneurs to stay constantly updated with a 360 degree understanding of their business.

Do you really know your business inside-out?

What is Financial Modelling?

A financial model goes beyond a financial statement (you cannot manage what you cannot measure) and a budgeting exercise (you cannot spend beyond what you can earn).

Unlike a financial statement which is a snapshot of the present and a budgeting exercise which places a stronger emphasis on immediate future needs, a financial model is meant as a diagnostic strategic planning tool to secure your business’s longer-term future.

A financial model == financial statement or budgeting exercise

I would like to think of financial model as the numerical version of chess (underlined are similar benefits and attributes). At the starting line, you position various business drivers/resources and as the game unfolds, watches the situation from a bird’s eye view and deploy changes accordingly.

Ultimately, you reach your goal by understanding the inter-connectivity of available resources and stimulating various outcomes before determining the next move.

Below are some commonly received questions from past clients on how the financial modeling process works.

Five Commonly Asked Questions

Question:
How does financial modeling for business owners differ from other types of financial modeling?

Answer:
The focus on financial modeling for business owners is more for business decisions – the aim is to help the business owner make as accurately as possible any material decisions to improve business profitability.

While assumptions related to the cost of capital and balance sheet strength are important to a loan banker looking to evaluate credit score of business client, assumptions related to profitability (i.e. revenue and cost driver) are the more important aspects of the financial modeling process for business owners.

Question:
How does financial modeling unveil insights for decision making? Can you walk us through via a real-life case study?

Answer:
There are a few key components to the financial modeling process which forces business owners to consider their business workflow from various perspectives.

Consequently, fresh insights arise.

These components include but are not limited to: identifying business drivers, deducing cash cycle and deriving business valuation.

Zooming into identifying the business driver, let’s take a Chinese eatery for instance.

Factors affecting revenue generation including but not limited to space capacity constraints (consider seating layout), table turnaround, average spend per customer, average spending per peak/off-peak hour, takeaway hurdle (dependent on chef capacity).

Factors affecting cost include but not limited to: employee labor productivity, rental cost, inventory cost.

Some key revelations from the above that surprise our past clients include uncovering of certain popular menu items that might be underpriced and more economical sense to shorten operational hours (during the less active hours to reduce labor cost).

Question:
How do I determine my revenue model?

Answer:
Broadly speaking, revenue is a multiplication of two components – price and volume.

For pricing factors, it is usually a consideration of:
1) Cost plus basis – what is the cost of service or raw material for the output
2) Market rate – what your peers might be charging
3) How aggressive a pricing strategy you might like to deploy

For volume, you may like to think about:
1) Top-down regarding maximum potential market size
2) Bottom-up approach via looking at your sales distribution channel capacity
Together these two approaches form the lower-bound and upper range of the total quantity playing field.

Question:
How often should the financial model be updated?

Answer:
The rule of thumb is as often as you will need to make strategic business decisions.
I would say minimally on a monthly basis.
It is best if the information feeds in real-time.

Question:
Any recommendations for someone looking to get started on financial modeling?

Answer:
1) Attend training/classes – the benefit is complete mastery and control over how you can maneuver it for your needs, and the downside is, of course, your time
2) Engage a consultant to help them through the process – it all boils down to consultant value to fee. A consultant can help you set up a tailored financial model structure, but it will only be valuable if you provide the input to the numerical assumptions
3) Purchase or source for existing financial model template – the benefit is you can get started immediately, but as is not your template, it will be challenging for you to modify it in your maintenance or to customize it more specifically for your industry