Bandar Seri Begawan- Brunei's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can take on the world if the country can attain a good synergy between them and what the government can do for them. This was said by Mr Raj Kumar, Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Blue Ocean Strategy Regional Centre, speaking in an interview with the Bulletin at the Local Business Development Workshop on the Blue Ocean Strategy at The Empire Hotel and Country Club."I think there's huge potential here in Brunei," he said. "You have really good people who are really keen, and they're so hungry""I can really see a hunger here to develop and grow a business, so I really hope that there can be a good synergy between the companies and also what the government can do for them and that they will take on the world."
The workshop, which began on July 3 saw Raj and Dr Peter Ting, the Regional Vice President of Market Innovation at the Blue Ocean Strategy Regional Centre, gave an overview of Brunei's vision in terms of the SMEs' contribution towards the GDP."Right now it's 22 per cent to the entire GDP growth," he said. "What we did yesterday was not dwell too much on that but move on to the Blue Ocean Strategy process, because the two-day objective is to empower these SMEs with the right tools."So when we give them the tools we empower them and give them the opportunity to test drive the tools so that they learn the concept and they apply it onto a simulation case, and then through this they actually learn how to use them."
He likened it to learning to ride a bike, saying that if one reads about how to ride a bike they'll never learn to do it. They need to actually do it.Speaking on how the Blue Ocean Strategy can help towards achieving the Vision 2035, he said the strategy is about leapfrog growth, about quick and fast results and creating new market space."A lot of SMEs here are feeling that the market is very small. For example, your population is about 400,000, so the market is very small," he said. "So we did case studies on Luxembourg and Singapore - they're actually almost the same or even smaller."
"Countries like Singapore don't have natural resources that you have, and yet they actually have a very strong GDP growth," he added. "Blue Ocean Strategy can help SMEs to actually find new market space in order for them to create a new demand, whether locally or internationally, so that they can contribute to the GDP."We are trying to work with certain government bodies, such as the MIPR (Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources) with whom we are in discussion, and the Blue Ocean can help in formulating a good framework for SME development."He said the methodology can be used to create a very good framework that can be a catalyst for SMEs to grow, and added that we could learn from various frameworks from Luxembourg, Singapore, Dubai and even South Korea - which have all been very successful in developing SMEs - in creating that kind of ecosystem that can help SMEs grow faster.
He used the example of selling pizza, saying SMEs selling pizza sometimes end up competing with big franchises like Pizza Hut and Domino's."What we're doing here when we walk them through the process is helping them to identify opportunities. Who are their non-customers? In Blue Ocean Strategy, instead of focusing on customers we look at who their non-customers are, and we actually have a systematic way of identifying who their non-customers are."Then we identify what their paying points are. A lot of the time we can see opportunities in these paying points, and converting these paying points into opportunities is sometimes very fast.
"This is a very good business example that can go big, if the taste is good and so on, they need the right strategy," he continued. "Simple things like a tagline need to be there, so through this process we are going to identify a tagline for them, and then, they're also penetrating into newer markets, and could be franchised."There could be a Brunei brand that is franchised all over the world, like Secret Recipe in Malaysia is now all over the world in Asia, he said.
"So the idea is to empower the SMEs with the tools so they will identify new market spaces and compete based on their current capabilities, and putting the pieces together is very important because sometimes when you operate an SME, you think 'I'm just competing in this market space and I cannot take on the giants', but the giants all started from small, like Secret Recipe."He stressed the importance for SMEs to focus on their product, explaining that you need to know exactly what your product is offering, and what your value proposition is to your customers and non-customers and this is shown through your tagline.
"From there, we want to focus on giving you a strategy on how you can expand overseas, through franchise or through export of products - a lot of ways," he said.The Director of Strategy and Innovation highlighted that Brunei SMEs can venture abroad, saying the idea is to create demand."Internal demand in Brunei for the SMEs products - although is small - can be improved, because not everyone is their customer."One 'path of innovation' included in the Blue Ocean Strategy is the transition from a product being functional to being emotional."For example, the pizza is a fun kind of meal, so the kids are the target audience right now but we want to make it more emotional in a sense where one of the options is to make it healthy"
"So the parents become the influencer to the kids who say 'now let's make this a healthy meal'," he continued. "So the non-customers become the customers, and so you make it more of a healthy meal together as a family""The idea is to make them say, 'Let's go and have a pizza meal that's healthy and fun as a family', and that's how you flip around something that is menu-driven into something that is a family package that shouts, 'Hey, family day today!""You make a campaign around a very functional product and make it something that's more emotional so that, at the end of the day, it's not about the product anymore; it is about the experience. Make it more of an experience."
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin