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The ease of access to the internet and ICT, digitization, and usage of data have been identified as fundamental, effective ways to improve productivity and are rapidly transforming production systems, value chains, and labor relations. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated the adoption of digital technologies, which helped to enhance the agility and resilience of business operations. However, the pace of such transformation varies across countries and sectors and is heavily reliant on access to suitable technologies, availability of a skilled workforce, and mindsets and strategies of businesses. It is imperative to identify necessary steps and adopt appropriate tools and technologies to ensure that businesses can stay competitive and avoid impacts resulting from the digital divide.
To explore this topic, the APO organized a workshop on Adoption of Industry 4.0 Applications for SMEs, 7–9 December, in partnership with the National Productivity Organisation of Bangladesh. The workshop included sessions on opportunities and challenges for SMEs, preparation for digital upgrading, suitable technologies and necessary skills for SME digitalization, leveraging resources from the ecosystem, policy programs and support from government, and case studies of SME digital upgrading.
Thirty-eight participants from 13 member countries attended this virtual workshop. There were five resource persons from Bangladesh, Canada, the ROK, and Singapore who helped conduct the workshop.