Digital transformation is helping China’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get through the difficulties brought by the COVID-19 outbreak.
One typical example is Shijiazhuang Feilong Feed Co., Ltd. in north China's Hebei province, which recently used weekly live streaming sessions to teach hog farmers how to prevent animal diseases.
"Please never buy breeding hogs that are not subject to quarantine, and recently bought breeding hogs should be isolated," one hog technician said in a live broadcast.
"This new form of marketing allows us to ensure epidemic prevention and continue providing services," said the company's chairman An Dianjin, adding that holding interactive activities with customers through live streams meets their needs perfectly. So far, the company has recovered 100 percent of its production capacity, and 98 percent of its employees have returned to work.
Some companies have even gone one step further toward smart manufacturing. Hangzhou Nbond Nonwoven Co., Ltd. in east China's Zhejiang province has completed intelligent upgrading of its six production lines with automated equipment. All the data from these smart production lines is clearly displayed on large screens. Currently, the company needs only five workers to control an entire production line. After catching up with its backlog following the resumption of work on Feb. 10, it has now received a flood of new orders.
"The impact of the epidemic has made it an urgent task for SMEs to realize digital transformation as soon as possible," said Pan Helin, executive director of the Digital Economy Academy of the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.
Digital transformation will help SMEs enhance their operating efficiency and create new advantages, Pan noted, adding that it holds the key to SMEs' long-term competitiveness.
On March 19, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released a guideline aimed at empowering SMEs with digital technologies, while some internet companies have also provided digital services to SMEs. Chinese tech giant Alibaba announced the launch of the 2020 Spring Thunder relief initiatives for SMEs, to help them overcome the immediate challenges and improve their long-term competitiveness through digitization.
"We will deploy the power of commerce and technology that Alibaba has harnessed over the past 20 years to create new supply chains, stimulate new demand, and promote new trade through a series of aggressive measures," said Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang.
He added that the e-commerce giant will continue to build the new infrastructure needed for the digital economy era, and will take every necessary action to help SMEs overcome their difficulties.