Enhancing Hong Kong SMEs' Competitiveness via Open Information Services

Project: Research

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In Hong Kong, 98% of business establishments are small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which employ about 50 % of Hong Kong workforce and play a critical role in the Hong Kong economy. As a result, improving global competitiveness of SMEs is a major strategic policy issue in the management of Hong Kong economy. In this proposal, we introduce open information services to Hong Kong SMEs as a new way to improve process efficiency and thus reduce business costs. One important factor that restricts SMEs’ competitiveness is the limited use of information systems in their business operations. In the Internet era, using paper, telephone, and simple spreadsheet applications for information processing are no longer effective and efficient enough to compete in the global marketplace. Furthermore, if an SME wants to do business with large companies, they will have to interface with sophisticated information technologies used in those large companies. For most SMEs in Hong Kong, purchasing, deploying, and maintaining enterprise software systems are too complicated and expensive for them. As such, to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong SMEs, it is necessary to develop a public policy and strategy to help SMEs to take advantage modern information technologies (IT). In this research, we propose to introduce the “software as a service” (SaaS) paradigm and develop an open information service platform for SMEs in Hong Kong. To demonstrate the approach quickly and inexpensively, the platform will be built upon “open source software” (OSS) components. Our main objective in this project is to demonstrate the technical feasibility and policy implications of introducing open information services in Hong Kong SMEs. This research effort attempts to integrate technical endeavors and policy studies in a single project. As such, it consists of three major aspects: technology development, adoption assessment, and policy recommendation. In terms of technology development, we will investigate key technologies for developing industry-specific business processes and company-specific risk management methods to facilitate the use of open information services in SMEs. In terms of adoption assessment, we will conduct longitudinal case studies to inspect the impact of open information services on Hong Kong SMEs’ operational characteristics in terms of global competitiveness. We will also conduct user studies to ascertain how various characteristics of open information services will affect its adoption in SMEs in Hong Kong. For policy recommendation, we will investigate how the Hong Kong government should facilitate the establishment of open information services, such as creating a semi-governmental entity to provide open information services, incubating independent Hong Kong companies for service provisioning, or offering tax advantages for existing global companies to compete in this field. Our research is expected to develop a new platform for open information services and investigate its impact on the global competitiveness of Hong Kong SMEs. We will also help the Hong Kong government develop an alternative policy (as compare to funding support and employee training support) to meet the IT needs of Hong Kong SMEs. The longterm impact of open information services is to enable Hong Kong SMEs to focus on their core business values and enhance their competitiveness in the increasingly globalized world of business.


Project number9056003
Grant typePPR
Effective start/end date1/10/1027/03/13