GRTU SME Week con­fer­ence bridges busi­nesses to on­line and dig­i­tal po­ten­tial

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

GRTU suc­cess­fully held a con­fer­ence last week with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of around 200 small busi­nesses and self-em­ployed per­sons tar­get­ing Malta’s Dig­i­tal Econ­omy.

The con­fer­ence served as the ideal plat­form to re­trieve prac­ti­cal feed­back from busi­nesses as to what chal­lenges are hin­der­ing them for GRTU to con­sol­i­date rec­om­men­da­tions to be pre­sented to pol­icy-mak­ers in the com­ing weeks.

The con­fer­ence, how­ever, also of­fered hands-on aware­ness-rais­ing and a train­ing ex­er­cise for the at­ten­dees to un­der­stand how they can make best use of the dig­i­tal and on­line tools to max­imise their busi­ness po­ten­tial.

GRTU pres­i­dent Paul Abela opened the con­fer­ence out­lin­ing how cru­cial this next step in busi­ness has be­come to ef­fec­tive com­pet­i­tive­ness. Ac­cess to un­tapped mar­ket po­ten­tial is key and needs to be achieved through equip­ping busi­nesses with such tools.

Ad­dress­ing the SMEs present dur­ing the con­fer­ence, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Com­pet­i­tive­ness Dr Jose’ Her­rera said that the dig­i­tal econ­omy will not re­place the busi­ness model but will en­hance their ef­forts to achieve their tar­gets. Econ­omy Min­is­ter Dr Chris Car­dona was also present for the clos­ing of the con­fer­ence.

This gave the op­por­tu­nity for the work­shop rap­por­teurs to ex­plain to the ple­nary as well as to the min­is­ter what was dis­cussed and the main is­sues that em­anated through­out the con­fer­ence.

Min­is­ter Car­dona high­lighted the po­ten­tial that can be reached through open­ing shop doors to the on­line world reach­ing out more ef­fi­ciently to the same pool of cus­tomers and tap­ping into a far broader reach at the same time.

The con­fer­ence in­cluded key­note speak­ers from MCA and Mita who pre­sented de­vel­op­ments in Malta’s E-Com­merce Strat­egy and the Dig­i­tal Malta Strat­egy. Stud­ies showed that more and more users were shift­ing on­line and us­ing on­line shop­ping meth­ods, but th­ese were not re­spec­tively re­flected in on­line shop­ping in Malta.

GRTU vice-pres­i­dent Mar­cel Mizzi gave a bird’s-eye view of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and how in prac­tice busi­nesses can widen their po­ten­tial. Mr Mizzi ex­posed the power of the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and on­line pres­ence through its var­i­ous forms such as so­cial me­dia, web­sites, searchengine op­ti­mi­sa­tion, blogs, email and pay-per-clicks. He also ex­plained how easy and cost-ef­fec­tive this can be for any SME.

The par­tic­i­pants had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in two work­shop ses­sions. The first work­shop was de­liv­ered by MCA chief of In­for­ma­tion and De­vel­op­ment Steve Agius who fo­cused on how to es­tab­lish and main­tain ef­fec­tive on­line pres­ence.

The sec­ond work­shop was co­or­di­nated by Kevin Schem­bri from Mi­crosoft who ex­plained how prac­ti­cal apps and cloud com­put­ing are the way for­ward for busi­nesses. Their ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness can take busi­ness to a new level.

A third work­shop was de­liv­ered jointly by Mita, ETC and the In­land Rev­enue Depart­ment. This fo­cused on e-Gov­ern­ment ser­vices with a prac­ti­cal work­shop show­ing how em­ploy­ment, re­cruit­ment and tax­a­tion ser­vices can be un­der­taken on­line avoid­ing bu­reau­cratic pro­ce­dures and time-wast­ing for busi­nesses.

The fourth work­shop was de­liv­ered by Cain Grech from Malta En­ter­prise and fo­cused on the va­ri­ety of in­cen­tives and sup­port schemes avail­able for both ex­ist­ing SMEs and start-ups.

Feed­back from busi­ness own­ers at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence was ex­tremely pos­i­tive, with many de­scrib­ing it as an eye-opener and a prac­ti­cal ex­er­cise with take-home knowl­edge.

GRTU shall be fol­low­ing up on this ini­tia­tive by com­pil­ing a con­cise re­port to be de­vel­oped into a doc­u­ment for rec­om­men­da­tions which will in turn be pre­sented to the gov­ern­ment so that ac­tion and ini­tia­tives are taken to help busi­nesses achieve fur­ther.

GRTU has also out­lined on­line com­merce and dig­i­tal tools as one of its flag­ship themes in its pro­pos­als for Bud­get 2016. This ini­tia­tive formed part of the Malta SME Week 2015.

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