As the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong need to rethink their operations to adapt to the new normal – and many are choosing to digitally transform their business.
The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and Microsoft Hong Kong on Thursday jointly launched the "Go Beyond Your Limits” Programme to assist SMEs in the transformation process – and also foster next-generation talents in Hong Kong – by leveraging best-in-class technology, practical learning and support measures.
The programme aims to achieve two key goals. First, it will help Hong Kong’s SMEs take tangible steps to pursue their digital transformation and seize market opportunities as the world recovers from COVID-19. Second, it will provide learning opportunities for Hong Kong tertiary students with an interest in entrepreneurship, helping to enhance their business-related digital skills and knowledge.
Announcing the partnership, HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Dr Patrick Lau said: “Our Transformation Sandbox (T-box) has helped more than 2,400 Hong Kong enterprises over the past two-plus years to realise different business transformation goals. Some of the most commonly seen goals relate to digitalisation, which is undoubtedly a powerful tool for companies to reshape their business, enhance their competitiveness and drive innovation.
“The HKTDC is delighted to partner with leading global technology company Microsoft Hong Kong to jointly launch the ‘Go Beyond Your Limits’ Programme. By integrating teaching, consulting and practical knowledge sharing, we aim to help SMEs in T-box to make good use of digital tools, and to equip tertiary students joining the HKTDC Trade Ambassador Programme (TAP) to become the digital economy talents of tomorrow’s Hong Kong.”
Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau, said: “Microsoft Hong Kong is committed to empowering local SMEs to accelerate digital transformation and uplift businesses across Hong Kong. Through a holistic approach that encompasses Microsoft’s technologies such as Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 (ERP), one-to-one diagnosis and advising on funding applications for SMEs, we hope to empower them to do more with less and assist them to identify new market opportunities.
“For decades, we have focused on upskilling next-gen talent, digital empowerment and making the best technology available to enable SMEs to thrive and scale their business. We’re excited to be a part of the HKTDC’s ‘Go Beyond Your Limits’ Programme in conjunction with T-box and TAP, and we look forward to creating synergies that can inspire more local businesses and support talent development across different sectors in Hong Kong.”
Dr Lau added that the HKTDC’s work is always in line with the policy direction of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government.
“Policies to facilitate the development of the local technology industry and enlarge the I&T talent pool in Hong Kong were highlighted in the Policy Address 2022 released by Chief Executive John Lee last week. Accordingly, the HKTDC will put further emphasis on helping Hong Kong enterprises and young people to thrive in the digital economy.
“We already do this through our conferences and exhibitions, business support and promotional activities infused with various technology elements, and this new partnership with Microsoft Hong Kong is a timely way to further reinforce our commitment.”
Riding on the HKTDC’s T-box programme, and with invaluable support from Microsoft, the “Go Beyond Your Limits” Programme will offer support to more than 2,400 participating enterprises with the Mobile Office Portfolio, free one-to-one enterprise diagnosis and professional training courses to enhance their competitiveness.
The programme will provide targeted solutions and follow-up support according to each enterprise’s specific stage of development and business needs. It will also help SMEs identify and apply for suitable funding schemes to expedite their business development goals.
Highlights of the “Go Beyond Your Limits” Programme include the Mobile Office Portfolio, which offers Microsoft 365 and Cloud PC solutions with a high-speed 5G network that lets businesses unlock seamless hybrid work capabilities. T-box members can enjoy two months’ rebate with a one-year subscription to Microsoft 365 for Business.
Microsoft will also give participating T-box members free one-to-one enterprise management diagnosis that can help them formulate a suitable digital transformation strategy. There are also free workshops on Dynamics 365 ERP to help SMEs strengthen and streamline operations flow and management.
What’s more, Microsoft will help SMEs identify and apply for suitable funding schemes and financial assistance so they can accelerate implementation and expedite their business transformation goals.
Nurturing young talent
The HKTDC’s TAP programme was launched to help the younger generation equip themselves for entrepreneurship, career development, and to broaden their business horizons. In collaboration with tertiary institutions in Hong Kong, the full-year programme offers opportunities to participate in numerous activities and initiatives organised by the HKTDC so that the students can gain a more in-depth understanding of trade and commerce both within Hong Kong and internationally.
Another important role for Microsoft Hong Kong is to provide the next-generation talent with cross-disciplinary learning and practical opportunities to develop a pool of information technology specialists that can support Hong Kong’s development.
Microsoft will equip 1,200 TAP students with future-ready IT skills through expert talks, Microsoft Learn online courses, instructor-led tutorials and free examinations on Microsoft Fundamentals, a series of industry-recognised certifications for IT generalists to gain knowledge on digital transformation and to validate their skills relating to the cloud, data, artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity standards and compliance.
Students will also be entitled to free US$100 Azure Credits via the Azure for Students programme to enjoy free services on the Azure Portal and to have a hands-on trial of Azure cloud solutions, including but not limited to building their own apps, exploring AI, and working with big data sets.