Embracing technology key to business growth in future crises, says ShineWing’s Samson Lee

Big Data will enable deeper insight into customers’ preference to drive sales.

Samson Lee is an Audit Partner, at SHINEWING (HK) CPA Limited, where he is responsible for projects related to auditing, corporate finance, and financial reporting. Specifically, his expertise included audit and advisory services, listed company audits, IPO services, acquisition transaction audit, as well as due diligence.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from the Sun Yat-sen University, he built 21 years of experience in assurance and business advisory services. He has served clients in finance, online media, advertising, games and education, aviation logistics, light and heavy industries, construction, and mining.

Today, Lee is a member of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. As a judge in the HKB Management Excellence Awards, he shares some insights into the outstanding themes in this year’s awards, the digital transformation sweeping industries, and the lasting changes brought by COVID that have impacted business as we know it. 

What were the common themes or characteristics you noticed among the nominated companies for this Hong Kong Business Management Excellence Awards face this year?

In the time of COVID-19, it has brought to many companies’ attention that more efforts on improving adaptability and crisis management in a more sustainable way is the key. Companies have been implementing different measures to pull through the slump brought from COVID-19, which disrupted businesses and consumers’ behavior to a great extent. 

We could see that those companies that could successfully navigate through the pandemic, have great capabilities in adoption of technology. The integration of digital transformation and AI into business expands connectivity and even promotes online sales. Long term community lockdown has blocked the traditional B2B connection and thus, it brought up the opportunities in technology. Companies with enhanced digital relationships with clients through virtual platforms and big data are used to delivering a better performance.

For the participants of this year’s award, how did they distinguish themselves from other nominees to come out on top?

The key differentiator would be the capability to adapt to the post pandemic stage and even excel in optimising the opportunities led by the pandemic. It is undeniable that COVID-19 hit the globe seriously in various ways. Not only experiencing depression economically, social anxiety and emotional stresses are also severe. 

However, outstanding companies/ business leaders can make use of the lessons learnt from pandemic and lead the companies to make a smooth transition to the new phase of post pandemic stage successfully. They tend to initiate the work with the use of technology, so as to strengthen effectiveness and productivity. They also offer better incentives and staff policies to protect and retain employees.

There is no denying that COVID-19 has changed the way the world does business. What lessons did these changes bring to business and how can management evolve to adapt to the changes?

COVID-19 brings dramatic changes in the ways of doing businesses. The social and economic challenges evoked by COVID-19 have triggered the needs in identifying businesses’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as tackling difficulties in a more sustainable way. Learned from the pandemic crisis, businesses now emphasise more on remaining continuity in the long-run.

Businesses embrace technology for faster response to future crises. They also have more interactions on social media, such as Facebook live talks and webinars, to enhance the brand image and transparency of the company 

You’ve served diverse industries. What differences do you see in the pace of digital transformation per industry?

Technological advancements speed up more than ever. Digital transformation is happening in every industry at different speeds. Here are a few examples to share.

A surge is seen in the retail or e-commerce sector with a new form of customers’ spending behavior integrating both online and offline consumption platforms in a seamless omnichannel environment.

For healthcare, the sector has transformed through electronic health records, and virtual consultations between doctors and patients, which could reduce spread of infection and increase patient flexibility.

Insurance sectors also shift their process of claiming and underwriting to more automatically as to reduce human errors, like mismatched financial data or customer details. Automation also ensures the accuracy of data and develops a complete log that could monitor regulatory compliance.

Is digital transformation even relevant to all industries or can an industry stay competitive with traditional processes?

Digital transformation accelerates business growth based on real-time information. It is no doubt that technology helps businesses generate more effective promotion and advertising strategies with wider coverage at lesser cost.  With the use of big data, businesses could also have a more comprehensive analysis in clients’ preference and consumption pattern so as to drive sales.

An industry can still retain its competitive edge with the traditional processes, if the products are unique enough with strong heritage. Yet some traditional industries, such as manufacturing sectors with more traditional processes, may face certain challenges for sustainable growth if they are reluctant to adopt technologies. In anyhow, while balancing the needs for traditional legacy, it is also wise to retrofit older machines with the latest technology to provide consistent access to data and upgrade infrastructure to minimise business risks

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