, Malaysia

Companies should strengthen organisational resilience amidst unexpected events, says KPMG leader

Ngu Heng Sing said that constant communication and connection should not be taken lightly as companies move to the new normal.

Ngu Heng Sing is KPMG Malaysia’s current Executive Director for Advisory Transaction Services and Deal Advisory. He started his career in the Assurance division in 2007, before moving to the Transaction Services division in 2011.

He has solid experience in the audits of various publicly listed companies and multinationals from different industries, including manufacturing, construction, plantation, automotive, poultry, and financial institutions.

Ngu has also worked on due diligence engagements covering financial, commercial, and operational aspects for private equity firms, corporate investors, government agencies, and government-linked companies.

The director said that the impact of the pandemic has forced company leaders to abruptly learn, adapt, and adjust to the new ways of working.

“The pandemic has pressured company leaders to take quick actions in the absence of perfect data. The reality of the last two years has shown that companies that reacted quickly, evolved and adapted to new ways experienced less impact, recovering faster,” he said. 

Ngu sat down with Malaysia Management Excellence Awards to talk about the impacts of digital transformation on the business landscape of Malaysia, as well as the indicators of success nowadays and making them more attainable.

As an industry leader, how do you see digital transformation journeys changing the business landscape in Malaysia? How can the management further promote this?

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation for many. Even the most traditional brick-and-mortar organisations have been forced to explore digital channels.

Most, if not all, company leaders have realised that digitalisation is no longer an option but a necessity in today’s increasingly challenging and competitive environment. What was once seen as a costly “nice-to-have” is now a “must-have” investment.

We can see many spectrums of digitalisation in recent years, from the adoption of online platforms for sales and communication to top-of-the-line technological advancements such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, and lights-out manufacturing. From an M&A perspective, we observed an increase in interest and deal activities in technology companies from all verticals, including fintech, tech start-ups, digital advertising, system integrators, and IT solution providers.

The adoption of technology-driven solutions and automation has also reduced the reliance on manual labour to a certain extent, which may be seen as a long-term solution to labour shortages and increased labour costs from the upward revision in the nation’s minimum wage.

The goals and objectives of any digital transformation are usually the same – to improve efficiency and productivity, optimise costs, and ultimately increase profits. However, the form and extent of a digital transformation will vary depending on each organisation’s objective, resources, capability, and budget. Management should inspire their teams to share their thoughts on digitalisation strategies and introduce small technological changes along the way. This can also prepare the organisation for any cultural shifts which will trickle in with the process.

What do you think are the lessons that company leaders can take from the impacts of the pandemic now that the world is gradually recovering from its effects? How do you think they can incorporate these learnings to improve their work?

Disruptions caused by the pandemic introduced new challenges to the business environment, forcing company leaders to abruptly learn, adapt, and adjust to the new ways of working.

Three key takeaways from the pandemic:

Expect the unexpected: By now, most companies will have at least some form of crisis management plan in place to maintain resilience in the face of any sudden shocks. Company leaders should also re-evaluate the actions taken and consider other measures that can strengthen their organisational resilience should unexpected events arise. 

Flexibility and agility are key: The pandemic has pressured company leaders to take quick actions in the absence of perfect data. The reality of the last two years has shown that companies that reacted quickly, evolved and adapted to new ways experienced less impact, recovering faster. 

Preserving relationships: The pandemic has significantly affected the quality of our social and business relationships in unprecedented ways. Company leaders now have seen the need to remain customer-centric whilst also supporting the well-being of their people for business continuity. The need for constant communication and connection has never been greater and should not be taken lightly as we move to the new normal.

What are your key performance indicators for measuring businesses’ growth and success? How can management make these indicators more attainable?

The measure of growth and success is often linked to financial KPIs such as revenue growth, profitability margins, and ROI. These are tracked closely by business owners/management to ensure that the business is heading in the right direction.

Some of the other KPIs which are equally important in measuring growth and success are:

Customer satisfaction scores and retention: Keeping customers happy should be the core of every business. High customer satisfaction and retention will cultivate loyalty, which will lead to repeated purchase patterns and sustainable revenue growth. A successful business is one that is able to continuously attract and retain customers.

Employee satisfaction and retention: Employees are said to be a company’s greatest asset. Growing businesses may sometimes overlook the importance of keeping their employees happy and motivated. These indicators measure the level of loyalty, commitment, and dedication employees bring to their jobs, which will ultimately lead to productivity and profitability. 

Scored engagement surveys should be conducted regularly to measure the happiness index of customers and employees, and to gather feedback on their demands and desires. The responses from these surveys will provide the management with valuable insights into the effectiveness of current practices and areas that can be improved to achieve sustainable growth and success. 

What are you hoping to see from this year’s entries in the Malaysia Management Excellence Awards? What qualities stand out for you?

Winning examples of management teams that have innovated new ideas, disrupted the traditional ways of doing business, and yielded positive results.

Key qualities that stand out - creativity, agility, flexibility, and tenacity.

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