GRTU SME Week conference bridges businesses to online and digital potential
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.