Call For Local SMEs To Be Different And Innovative

Posted on  07/11/2012  |  Media Centre

By Danial Norjidi

Wednesday, 07 November 2012

Bandar Seri Begawan – Differentiate yourself Create something innovative and new, try to form a market space in which you can thrive without having to worry so much about having competitors breathe down your neck.

This was the message from the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, speaking at Asia Inc Forum’s Local Business Development Forum yesterday.

In his keynote speech, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya stressed the need for companies to assess their organisation to see whether they are suffering from “organisational pathologies” -traps that will inhibit and prevent the attainment of breakthrough growth.

This point was highlighted while comparing two companies, namely Kodak and Apple.

Citing work by Ahuja and Lampert in their 2001 article, “Entrepreneurship in the Large Corporation”, he highlighted that they described failures of corporations, and businesses to achieve breakthrough inventions as being the aforementioned organisational pathologies, ie being trapped inside their own market position.

“Thus, in my point of view, Kodak was trapped inside their own familiarity. They preferred the familiar market position over the unfamiliar,” he explained. “They were also trapped inside their own maturity. They did not pursue innovative development, although they have been forewarned by their innovators and executives that digitisation was the future and will destroy their film business.”

He added, on the other hand, that the success of Apple was built on deploying a strategy of being different and doing things differently.

“Their marketing slogan, ‘Think Differently’, I think was and is being carried into their corporate culture and operations,” stated the minister.

Once more citing the work of Ahuja and Lampert, he said, “In contrast with Kodak, Apple avoided the organisational pathologies of preferring the unfamiliar over the familiar.

“They are constantly pioneering into new innovations which avoid not only the ‘maturity trap’ but also the ‘propinquity trap’ of searching for solutions that are near to existing solutions.”

He continued, “In other words, by overcoming these traps, I think Apple was able to create breakthrough inventions and, therefore, growth.”

He then asked the audience to consider the questions, Are our SMEs, local businesses or industries experiencing the so-called ‘organisational pathologies’, trapped in their familiar position, trapped in their mature market position and/or trapped in their comfort zone and not taking radical business decisions to achieve breakthrough growth?”

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya highlighted that SMEs must always remain open, responsive and prepared to make hard decisions to venture into novel, emerging, as well as pioneering business activities.

“We in the ministry have also taken those points in order to drive ourselves to become better agents of change in our effort to diversify the economy,” he said before adding, “I believe our initiatives on Halal and alternative tourism can create opportunities and breakthrough growth for our SMEs businesses as there are emerging industries.”

Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya also mentioned that the ministry also provides all the other necessary environment that are conducive through an integrated dynamic approach that includes providing extension and support services, access to capital, as well as industrial and agricultural sites.

Also included, he said, is the building of strong networks and public-private sector partnership through such avenues as yesterday’s forum.

During a dialogue session, which followed, the minister responded to a question which asked about the immediate areas that the ministry has focus on in regards to SME development in Brunei, answering, “Capacity building.

“Building the capacity in regards to man power and their ability to handle production and growth, so we emphasise many things that will help enhance their capabilities. We provide training, advice, as well as facilities for them to be accredited and comply with stringent international requirements.

“That is the immediate work we have wanted to do. Currently we also have many industrial sites that are vacant. There are also financing options.”

Another issue raised was that of how it often takes a lot of time for things to be processed, which can slow things down considerably when a company is trying to get going with its business.

In response, the minister said, “It’s true, sometimes processes take some time to complete. Sometimes it’s out of our control.

“We hope to expedite and help, particularly if it is a time-sensitive investment. That is something we are looking into.”

One notable question that was put forward inquired about what impact the Asean Economic Community would have for Bruneian SMEs.

“There are both positive and negative impacts, but I intend to promote the positive component of it by saying that there will be bigger markets that we can capture both within and outside of Asean, including China and Korea,” answered the minister.

“Those are the opportunities, but opportunities come with a price, meaning that you need to arm yourself with all the necessary knowledge and experience to gain all those opportunities, particularly competing with low-cost producers around the region.

“The opportunities are there, but you have to learn and you have to sharpen your skill to get into the market,” stressed the minister.

Lastly, when asked if he had any last words of advice to conclude with, he said, “Create a space where you can live comfortably without competitors breathing down your neck and chasing after you. Create something new, something that is not being done currently.”

–Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin