Q&A with Haniza Zakariya


How to remain competitive during tough times.

What can small businesses do to thrive in the current economic climate?
There are many ways to adapt, revitalise and position a small business for a breakout to the next level of sales growth and profitability during this current economic climate. It takes owner vigilance, awareness and creativity.

The best way to start is by returning to the fundamentals of business such as tightening operational hygiene by closely monitoring collections, cash flow and leakages. Next consider taking rewarding risks such as opting for a new procurement model such as rental, service based applications, hosting, cloud computing or offshoring. It would also be worth keeping your customers closer with proactive customer service or a new unique value selling point to increase dollars per customer.

While these are good business principles to be put into action immediately during tough times, you also need technology to help you do this work. Whether times are difficult or not, investment in technology is unavoidable. In fact, this is probably the best time to upgrade or reinvent your ICT as during this period, customers usually have more bargaining power with their vendors. I must continue to emphasise the value of Microsoft technology to small businesses as our promise is “doing more, with less”. Small businesses should be looking at cloud as an option as there is no upfront cost to automate the business – to know your business in real time will help increase efficiency, productivity and keep you ahead of competitors.

What are some of the Microsoft products available in Brunei’s market that can help retailers be more efficient, productive and be more competitive?
We are transforming rapidly in three different areas to assist the market to become more efficient and competitive: by creating more personal computing, reinventing productivity and building intelligent Cloud platform.

Combining these three areas in our solutions together with Microsoft technologies and ease of use, local SMEs and retailers have an extensive list of Microsoft products which they can evaluate and utilise.

In terms of employee productivity, our Windows 10 powered devices and its ecosystem gives local SMEs and retailers many choices to consider based on their budget. For example, with Office 365 suites, subscribing to Exchange Online can be as cheap as BND7 per month with no upfront cost, and you pay as your business grows. Office 365 is a fantastic solution especially during these challenging times. I have seen a few Bruneian companies even subscribing to Project Online, a service based project tool based on the seasonality of their businesses.

On the business applications front, local businesses can consider CRM Online for customer retention and customer relationship management; and Dynamic AX for Enteprise Resources Planning for resource management. Typically these two products are adopted based on the higher state of ICT maturity in each SME.

This article was published in the June 2016 issue of Inspire Living Magazine. Download it here!