Digital transformation may be viewed as continuous improvement of business capabilities. There are many opportunities for SMEs to derive economic benefit from digital transformation. The IoT, big data analytics, AI, blockchains, 3D printing, etc. enable SMEs to create better products and services, innovate business models, reduce time to market, and build more integrated, flexible, responsive supply chains. Digitalization lowers transaction costs, provides easier access to information, and creates a level playing field where SMEs have opportunities to compete against larger firms with more resources. Digitalization also provides SMEs greater access to global markets, and newer cloud-based business models allow them to reach customers from anywhere, any time. Financing and access to global talent through digitalization are two additional opportunities for SMEs.

SMEs account for about 97% of developing Asian economies and 69% of national labor forces. However, according to the ADB report Asia Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Monitor (2020), the GDP contribution of SMEs is only 41%. They could therefore contribute more socioeconomic value through digitalization. However, SMEs encounter challenges due to a lack of awareness, capital, and digital skills. SMEs need digitalization to both survive and thrive. History suggests that crises such as the current pandemic bring out the best from startups and SMEs. SMEs in the grocery, healthcare, beverage, and IT support sectors have had success through digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This e-course aims to equip SMEs with the necessary digital toolkit comprising skillsets, mindsets, and strategy toolsets along with relevant frameworks and best practices necessary to succeed in the digital transformation journey in the new normal. The course will introduce key digital transformation technologies and discuss case studies illustrating the power of digitalization. It will also explain how digital technologies are relevant, useful, scalable, and economically viable. The course will take a human-centric view, allowing easy adoption of digital technologies in the context of SME operations.

Course Objectives:

The main objectives of this course are:

  • Understand the “why, what, and how” of digital transformation by outlining business benefits and cost-effective implementation approaches enabling large-scale adoption by SMEs.
  • Identify and apply key strategies, tools, frameworks, and factors that support sustainable, scalable, economically viable digitalization of SMEs.
  • Introduce a human-centric view of digital transformation including cultural considerations within organizations which are often missed but needed for driving successful change management initiatives.
  • Facilitate the initiation and sustainability of digitalization in SMEs to enhance productivity.

Course Modules:

This e-learning course will cover the following modules:
Module 1: Introduction to digital transformation
This module covers definitions, drivers, barriers, business impact, and approaches to digital transformation along with successful global case studies.
Module 2: Digital transformation strategies, policies, and frameworks
This module presents strategies, frameworks, and tools participants could use for designing the transformation journey in their organizations.
Module 3: Digital transformation technology toolkit
This module introduces nine key technologies that enable digital transformation along with examples of their use.
Module 4: Human-centric digitalization
This module takes a human-centric view of both management and technology when undertaking sustainable digitalization initiatives.
Module 5: SME digital transformation case studies and best practices
This module takes a deep dive into SME digitalization through case studies, along with “next practices.”

Important Notes:

  1.  Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a score of 70% or higher will be eligible to receive the APO certificate. Please note that the final examination can be taken only once. Therefore, the most appropriate time to take the examination should be chosen carefully. The self-assessment quizzes are for personal evaluation only and are not related to the final examination results.
  2. Participants who perform well in this course and receive the APO certificate will be given preference, on a merit basis, for selection to attend follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects on similar topics, when nominated by their NPOs and if slots are available.
  3.  Notes 1 and 2 are applicable only to participants from APO member countries. Participants from nonmember countries are welcome to take the course for self-improvement, although they will not have an opportunity to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects.
  4. Each module is in a prerecorded video format in which the expert delivers presentations by explaining each slide. Participants can access the video by clicking on the link provided under the title of each module.

Course Duration in Hours: 20 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: Yes