Blue ocean strategy helps SMEs think outside the box

Posted on  07/07/2012  |  Media Centre

By Debbie Too

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Raj Kumar, Director of Strategy and Innovation at the UCSI Blue-Ocean Strategy Regional Centre in Malaysia. Picture: BT/Debbie Too

CREATING a new market space was one of the business strategies explored by participants at the Asia Inc’s workshop on Blue Ocean Strategy yesterday.

Held at the Empire Hotel & Country Club’s Member’s Grill and Lounge, participants of the workshop were coached by Dr Peter Ting, regional vice president of operations and market innovation and Raj Kumar, director of strategy and innovation at the UCSI Blue-Ocean Strategy Regional Centre in Malaysia.

In an interview, Dr Ting said that that one of the challenges that SMEs face is creating a new market space, in terms of creating a demand, product or service, that is of high value, and that can go international. During the course of the workshop, he said that the participants at the workshop were “bounded in their boundaries”, in terms of their mindset. Both coaches used the two-day workshops to challenge the participant’s “conventional thinking”, and provided them with tools to systematically think out of the box.

“If you were to ask them to think out of the box, it is going to be difficult, but what we did was we gave them the Blue Ocean Strategy set of tools to create this strategy and to create a new demand,” said Raj. He added that what happened was that the tools empowered participants and they were then able to systematically think out of the box.

“A lot of them don’t know how to think out of the box but it is actually a systematic process and that is the difference,” said Raj.

One of the tools provided to participants was called a ‘non-customer analysis’, where the focus went to the ‘non-customer’ as opposed to the customer. Raj said that participants needed to look at future growth, which meant that businesses needed to look at customers who have yet to be their customers. Some of the questions that the coaches challenged participants to explore was to ask themselves, who their first, second and third tier customers were; what are their ‘pain points’; and how can businesses capture them to make them a part of their existing market?

“This is an important tool, because at the end of the day, businesses tend to delight their current customers, and they are not looking into expansion plans for future growth,” said Raj.

He added that the ‘non-customer analysis’ gives businesses a systematic way to explore the non-customers in their business, without the need to redefine their current product.

One of the main concerns for the conclusion of the workshop for the coaches was that participants will continue practicing their strategies and executing them after the workshop.

“We need to help them come up with a very comprehensive execution plan so that we will achieve something that can be measured rather than just remain on a piece of paper,” said Dr Ting.

He added that there were a lot of good ideas that came out from the workshop, such as one example where a female participant mapped out potential non-customers and wanted to bring the strategy back to her boss.

The workshop is part of the 2012 Local Business Development Programme that is now on its 9th year.

The workshop is organised by the Asia Inc Forum, in partnership with Baiduri Bank, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR). Associate partnerships for the event are Microsoft, Indramas and SKS Wood.

The workshop had over 25 SMEs over the course of two days. The Brunei Times