The future for SMEs in Southeast Asia lies in creating an environmentally and operationally sustainable business.
Article is contributed by Daisuke Hori, Managing Director of Epson Malaysia
The Coronavirus Pandemic has caused a collapse on the world’s biggest businesses. With continuous shut-down of industries, the world has quickly become an unrecognizable place.
Despite all of the chaos, some “good news” still came through. From wildlife flourishing in towns and cities, to crystal clear water in Venice, the positive environmental impact of Coronavirus has spurred a new conversation about the importance of practicing business sustainability.
As Eco-Business noted in a report, transitioning to a low carbon economy is gaining momentum in Southeast Asia, but investments in renewable energy and storage, clean energy public transport systems and energy efficient technologies and innovations are most needed.
Businesses in the region are joining the population in taking the threat more seriously by looking for ways to evaluate and improve the environmental impact of every aspect of their business, from products to process, in response to changing customer preferences among other factors. SMEs are particularly aware of how these changing preferences can affect their business.
Almost 30% of respondents in an Epson survey of SMEs in six of the largest Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) nations by GDP ranked managing customer experience as their top business challenge. About half of the respondents in the Philippines considered this to be a top concern.
Recognising the increasing importance of environmental concerns among their customers, close to 70 percent of the corporate SMEs in the region polled by Epson said they consider the impact on the environment when choosing an office printer. Thai SMEs in the study showed the most consideration of the environment when making office printer purchases.
Studies are also finding that more consumers are placing greater importance on a company’s environmental sustainability practices. A Futerra survey indicated that customers in the West look to companies to help them be more sustainable. In Asia, evidence suggests that customers may be ready to pay more for sustainable products. It’s clear that regardless of the product or service, SMEs must be more proactive in considering the environmental impact of their business to meet customer expectations.
Selecting technologies for a sustainable business
Malaysian businesses have been slow in taking this threat seriously. In a recent report ranking Asia’s largest companies on environmental sustainability, Malaysia was ranked third lowest in the region, ahead of only Singapore and China. The country recorded 216.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2016.
In order to reduce those numbers, the public and private sectors need to work together. All companies must look for ways to evaluate and improve the environmental impact of every aspect of their business. Companies that are unable to meet customers’ demands for products that are sustainably sourced or demonstrate its sustainability practices across the supply chain may start to lose out in the competition for customers.
From the perspective of technology, as companies in Southeast Asia proceed with digital transformation initiatives to modernise their business, the environmental impact can serve as another contribution to the business goals of the transformation project.
This mindset can impact all of the everyday technologies we rely on for business operations, including products such as printers and projectors, which are becoming more efficient than ever with heat-free technology that reduces power consumption, without compromising on speed or quality.
How has the environmental impact of technologies improved?
The Epson survey determined that over 60 percent of SMEs in the region do not move forward with updating existing technologies due to cost. However, upgrading existing technologies can reduce the organisation’s environmental footprint, while also delivering a lower total cost of ownership. For example, newer heat-free inkjet printers have become faster and more energy efficient compared to laser printers, which require a lot of electricity and heat.
Additionally, high capacity ink tank printers today reduce resource consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and cut waste. Similarly, with the adoption of interactive projectors, companies contribute to lowering their carbon footprint through reductions in travel for meetings. Newer laser projector technologies also have a brighter, longer-lasting light source than standard projectors with bulbs, which lowers the total cost of ownership.
Spreading sustainability across the enterprise
In order to truly make a notable change to a company’s environmental consumption and footprint, SMEs in Southeast Asia need to commit to creating business environments that allow them to leverage innovation to facilitate meaningful change that also delivers positive business outcomes. As the backbone of the ASEAN economy, SMEs will contribute significantly to the environment as the regional economy continues to grow.
For manufacturers, this means ensuring the company’s products are environmentally conscious and that supply chain and production processes make efficient use of energy and water. Transportation and logistics are also key contributors to global warming, which need to be carefully considered by SMEs importing components and exporting finished goods. Individual SMEs across ASEAN need to play their part, however small, in reducing the region’s environmental footprint.
It is clear today that committing to the environment must be far more than just an altruistic gesture. The region’s SMEs can build on their awareness of the environmental issues that matter most to consumers by choosing digital technologies that have minimal environmental impacts.
Environmental consciousness in product design and production processes, end-of-life recycling, service delivery and supply chain logistics will help us tread more lightly on the earth.
To find out more about Epson’s heat-free sustainable printing solutions, visit: www.epson.com.my/heat-free.