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Jacky Tan

How small Singaporean business can cope with disruptive technology

BY JACKY TAN

It was during one fine day in my trip at East Coast Park, when I decided to use a bike sharing app for the first time.
 
I thought I was a loyal customer to a local bicycle rental kiosk at the park where I would pay $8 for a two-hour ride. However, I was not. The bike sharing app offered me 10 free rides with no time limit. Well, simple maths will tell me to sacrifice customer loyalty to 10 free rides. Right? So, I took the bait, downloaded the app, scan my QR code and got on my first free ride. With a little sense of guilt, I cycled past by my favourite bicycle rental kiosk. I looked inside and saw many bicycles remained unrented. In my mind, I’m pretty sure that their businesses will be affected badly by what we called, disruptive technology.
 
Disruptive technology simply means disrupting an existing industry or norm with technology. It is so powerful that it will turn the norm into obsolescence. Many were affected by disruptive technology badly. We have taxi drivers are complaining about how apps like Uber and Grab drivers are snatching away their business. We have retailers, who continued to pay high rental fees, complaining about how ecommerce rivals and C2C (consumers-to-consumers) apps are invading their industry. The list is never-ending.
 
Being the marketing representative for several SMEs (small medium sized enterprises) in Asia, I was often tasked to recreate and revamp strategies to reset companies back on track in this age of disruptive technology. If you are a struggling small business owner who has been affected badly by disruptive technology, perhaps these tips can help you.
 
1) Reduce Business Costs
Profit margin matters for any business. A high profit margin may be caused by either higher sales volume or lower business costs. Look into your business and see what are the costs that you can omit. Is the rental too high for you? What operational costs you can omit by outsourcing to third parties? Think of ways where you can do more businesses at lower cost such as getting in E-commerce.
 
2) Work With Disruptive Technology
There is a saying, “if you can’t win beat, join them!” Check out how you can work with disruptive technology by looking at a win-win business strategy.
 
3) Build Your Brand Profile
Today, consumers may be able to buy similar products for a cheaper price online. So, what are the reasons for them to buy a similar product from you at a higher price? Hence, you need to understand what makes your brand different from others and then sell your brand story to the consumers. In times like this, you need to work a little harder in order to set some brand differentiation in the market.
 
4) Marketing, Marketing and Marketing
Marketing is an essential activity for any business. You need consistent marketing efforts to reach out to the right consumers. With the right marketing strategy, your business can grow exponentially. With the wrong marketing strategy, you can still reach somewhere but a slower pace. However, without a marketing strategy, your business will go nowhere.
 
5) Be the Disruptive Technology
Instead of waiting for the disruptive technology to disrupt your industry, why not think of becoming the disruptive technology? You are at a better advantage to create a superior app to compete with the existing disruptive technology. This is because you are more experienced and more aware about what’s going on in your industry. Therefore, start thinking of how you can win back the consumer market with a better disruptive technology, and do it as soon as possible!
 
To sum up these 5 business tips in one word, will be ‘CHANGE’. Do not be afraid if disruptive technology affect your business. Take a deep breath, face the challenge and come out with new business strategies to evolve and change with the tides. There is a saying, if we don’t change, we will be changed. Therefore, embrace change so that your business will continue to prosper!

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan is a professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and the author of 'Social M - How Your Startup Can Take On the Big Boys'. Jacky leads the boutique marketing communications and branding agency, Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd. He specialises in the creation of successful branding, content marketing and pr strategies for companies of any size.

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