Post Event Coverage


SkillsFuture Festival Enterprise Series 2019

Business Transformation Forum for SMEs

Time : 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Venue : Arena 1 & 2, Level 4, Lifelong Learning Institute, 11 Eunos Road 8, Singapore 408601

“Business Innovation with Design Thinking is a about discovering the unarticulated needs of your users.” – Professor Boh Wai Fong 

The Workforce Advancement Federation (WAF) experienced many firsts in its recent event, the Business Transformation Forum; held on 4 July 2019, it was WAF’s first event at the newly renovated Lifelong Learning Institute as well as its first Business Transformation Forum.

Centred around how SMEs should constantly seek innovations and transformation to stay at the forefront of the everchanging environment, the Business Transformation Forum was extremely well received, with up to 100 SME owners and HR professionals attending the inaugural forum.

The forum included a keynote from Professor Boh Wai Fong from the Nanyang Business School followed by a candid panel discussion with fellow SMEs that included Audrey from Yusarn Audrey, Dione Song from Love, Bonito, Jason Chok from Facility and Mark Tan from Way FengShui.

With fellow Design Thinking and Business Innovation advocates, the sharing was needless to say, a very fruitful and insightful one.

SMEs looking to innovate must first be willing to dedicate the time and understand the efforts required for successful innovation to occur within the organisation, advised Professor Boh. Using Design Thinking as the methodology that SMEs can adopt for their Business Innovation, Professor Boh explained that there are 3 main phases that companies will go through:

Exploratory Phase where companies will start the innovation process by surfacing issues and challenges faced by the organisation.

Concepting Phase where companies will brainstorm on ideas. Here, she suggests that companies should aim for quantity, look for wild ideas, defer judgement and continue to build on ideas. Brainstorming individually before sharing within the group also helps an individual to think and prevent any dominant idea.

Prototyping Phase occurs at the final stage where companies come up with solutions and put their solutions to the test. Here, she advises companies against doing free tests as the results will not be an accurate reflection of the efficacy of the solution.

Besides creating a systematic way for SMEs to innovate, the benefits of innovation through Design Thinking also expands into the arena of HR as it helps the organisation’s people to develop and build empathy, observations, experimentational and brainstorming skills. It also helps to build a culture of innovation where the people are receptive towards innovation, brainstorming and encourages collaboration for a more effective organisation.

Innovation, however, is never always smooth sailing. Companies must be prepared for failures. However, through Design Thinking, Ms Audrey Yap from Yusarn Audrey, explains that it provides a safe environment to brainstorm and experiment. That way, companies can put the ideas generated to the test with little costs and have the opportunity to continue making tweaks to the solution(s) before it is officially launched in the market. Ms Yap continues to say that when going through innovation, one must be prepared to take in the good, the bad and the ugly as during the empathy phase of business innovation, you will need to ask what the organisation has done right or wrong. With that, one must be ready to embrace compliments as well as criticisms.

Ms Dione Song from Love, Bonito added that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. As such, in their organisation, there are surveys done to help them understand what are some of their customer’s as well as employee’s pain points. Through open communication, they have moved from an online store to also include retail outlets where they have innovated on including modular fitting rooms so that Asian women who may be more conservative (as not many would be keen to leave the fitting rooms to parade in front of strangers) can choose to expand these modular rooms to share a common space amongst loved ones. On top of that, the pain point of waiting in line to try on clothing was also addressed by providing customers with a ticket number. With this, they can continue shopping while waiting for an available room.

Mr Mark Tan from Way FengShui agrees that innovation involves asking the right questions. A lot of times, he reflects on whether or not he would personally purchase his shop’s products. He would also take a poll and ask his fellow colleagues on their opinion of the product before it is launched. At the end of the day, it is about empathising with the customers. He adds that there is a cost pegged to change and it involves time and money. For change to happen, it has to start from the leaders and management so that a culture of innovation can be encouraged.


  • Welcome Address_Ms Audrey Yap
    Welcome Address_Ms Audrey Yap
  • Keynote_Prof Boh Wai Fong
    Keynote_Prof Boh Wai Fong
  • Panel Discussion
    Panel Discussion
  • Keynote_Prof Boh Wai Fong
    Keynote_Prof Boh Wai Fong
  • Group Photo
    Group Photo
  • Lunch Networking
    Lunch Networking