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100 SMEs take step toward twin transformation journey

A pioneering digital transformation and competence development center and Türkiye’s largest private lender are partnering to ramp up the productivity of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to make them more competitive globally and accelerate their digital and green journeys.

MEXT, established by the Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries (MESS), and Işbank are co-organizing the “Twin Transformation Journey of 100 SMEs” project to generate insights that will guide the Turkish industry upon completion.

Initiated on the occasion of Işbank’s 100th anniversary, the project will kick off with a “Return on Investment Workshop,” attended by the general managers of selected SMEs.

Managers will be briefed on calculating the return on their investments and which criteria to consider, with real examples provided. Following the workshop, the twin transformation analyses of 100 SMEs will be physically conducted at the participants’ factories by MEXT, and digital and green transformation road maps will be shared.

To implement the projects outlined in the road maps, technology providers within the ecosystem of MEXT and Işbank will be brought together with SMEs. As part of the project, the bank will provide various loan support to the enterprises.

The project’s introduction meeting was held this week at the MEXT Technology Center in Istanbul, attended by Özgür Burak Akkol, head of the MESS board of directors, and Hakan Aran, general manager of Işbank.

Preparation for new era

Addressing the event, Akkol emphasized the significance of SMEs and said there are over 400,000 enterprises engaged in manufacturing in Türkiye.

“SMEs account for 72.5% of total employment in the sector, constituting 54.2% of the total turnover. We see the Twin Transformation Journey of 100 SMEs project as a strategic step taken for the future of Turkish SMEs engaged in production and our industry. Our aim is to increase the efficiency of SMEs in our country, thereby enhancing their profitability and competitiveness against global rivals,” he noted.

Akkol said they want the SMEs to be more prepared for new regulations, believing that it is not sufficient for only large companies to be prepared for digital and green transformation.

“Half of the total exports made by SMEs in 2022 were to European countries. Hence, global developments such as the European Union’s implementation of carbon taxation at the border indicate that green transformation is no longer an option but a necessity,” he said.

“Our project will also make significant contributions to Türkiye’s sustainable development goals, especially for our SMEs.”

Enhancing competitiveness

Işbank’s Aran highlighted that the project would be a significant opportunity for SMEs to gain competitiveness and foster the emergence of new business areas.

He noted that the selection criteria for SMEs to be included in the project involved being in strategic sectors identified by the Small and Medium Industry Development Organization (KOSGEB), engaging in production, and directly or indirectly exporting goods.

“We have created this project with the dream of SMEs standing firmly on the ground, having completed their digital and green transformation, making a difference in global competition with strengthened finances, and contributing to positioning Türkiye differently,” Aran said.

“The SMEs we have chosen will find us by their side in terms of digitizing the managerial processes of production lines, identifying energy efficiency investment needs, and providing financing support at the most suitable costs where needed.”

Aran also mentioned that alongside MEXT’s digital maturity assessment analysis, they would add a green transformation maturity analysis under the headings of environmental, social, and governance sustainability principles.

“Drawing inspiration from this project, if we assume that other SMEs will complete their twin transformations within three years, there is a potential contribution of up to $269 billion to the national economy. Unless we increase our efficiency and undertake such transformations, we will always focus on exchange rates. We need to break this vicious cycle.”

Aran recalled that 2024 marks Işbank’s 100th anniversary, expressing pride at having introduced many projects touching various aspects of societal life before even the end of the first two months of the year.

Corporations favor flexible working on single invoice

In today’s business landscape, many corporate entities are redesigning their offices with more flexible spaces. Shared working environments, which bring together individuals from different companies and work cultures, not only boast stylish designs reminiscent of cafes but also foster the establishment of robust professional networks.

Ahmet Onur, the founder and CEO of Türkiye’s leading shared workspace initiative, Kolektif House, shared insights into the transformative effects of the new generation’s working culture.

“By opting for flexible workspaces, companies gain a significant advantage in enhancing employee satisfaction, motivation, and commitment. Inspirational workspaces, with their designs, nurture motivation and productivity. At this juncture, entities of all scales increasingly prefer our services,” Onur said.

Cost savings

Flexible office spaces save companies time and money and liberate employers and employees, according to Onur.

“Instead of purchasing commercial real estate or committing to long-term leases, flexible office solutions, requiring no initial investment from furniture to technological infrastructure, and bundling various services from reception to refreshments, enable companies to save between 20% to 40% compared to a traditional office setup,” he said.

“This restructuring not only offers companies the ultimate agility in adapting office spaces according to growth or downsizing decisions but also provides extensive networking opportunities through flexible workspaces.”

From one to thousand

Regarding the adaptable structure of their solution, Onur stated that they strategically approach office solutions for startups and corporate entities ranging “from one to a thousand individuals.”

“We prepare locations tailored to the company’s needs and culture. Depending on the emerging demand, we devise office solutions that offer the optimum benefit to the company and its employees. We are a firm that supports our solutions with technology and we continue to invest in technology,” he said.

Kolektif House today serves over 6,000 brands in more than 30 locations, covering nearly 100,000 square meters.

Network of Mutual Learning

Onur also provided a striking example of the impact of the emerging working culture.

“At Kolektif House, we provide a workspace where individuals from diverse disciplines can come together, exchange ideas, learn together, teach each other, and steadily expand their networks, opening doors to new collaborations. In essence, we offer an environment where they can freely create,” he stated.

“At this point, I can outline our flexible workspace solutions as Virtual Office, Nomad, Ready Office, Enterprise, and Suites.”

Türk Telekom offers investments to new PILOT ventures

TT Ventures, the venture capital arm of one of Türkiye’s leading telecommunications and technology companies, Türk Telekom, has launched the application process for the latest edition of its startup acceleration program.

The 12th edition of PILOT promises to offer vital support and resources to aspiring startups and innovators. The first application period, which started on Feb. 19, will run through March 17 before a second phase from March 18 to April 14.

Beyond financial incentives, Türk Telekom also provides avenues for networking, mentorship, and international exposure, aiming to catalyze the growth of promising startups in Türkiye and beyond.

Selected ventures admitted to the program, limited to 10 in number, stand to benefit significantly. Each successful participant will be eligible for financial aid of up to $30,000, in addition to cash support amounting to TL 100,000, provided by Türk Telekom Ventures.

Applications for the PILOT program are processed through the website

Muhammed Özhan, the general manager of TT Ventures, emphasized the comprehensive support provided to startups. Alongside financial assistance, ventures receive collaboration opportunities with Türk Telekom, mentorship, networking avenues, access to investors, and shared working spaces.

“We proudly support the entrepreneurship ecosystem with Türk Telekom Ventures and our venture acceleration program PILOT for over 10 years. Through PILOT, we have provided approximately TL 32 million in cash support to 111 ventures to date. Among these, 59 ventures have received investments totaling over $35 million from both domestic and international investors, enabling them to develop their projects and ideas,” Özhan said.

Additionally, he also stressed the support provided through physical spaces for ventures to work, both in the central building in Tahtakale and in the TT Ventures Entrepreneurship Center located within the Atatürk Cultural Center, of which the company is the main supporter.

“We have reinforced our contributions in every aspect with our Türk Telekom Ventures office in San Francisco, aiming to open up our ventures to the world from there and to bring the success-filled atmosphere of Silicon Valley to Türkiye. This year, with a program specially designed at Stanford University, our graduate ventures received education and mentorship to enter global markets, grow their ventures, and access and present them directly to the VC network within Stanford’s ecosystem. Additionally, through a special meeting held at Netsia’s U.S. office, entrepreneurs had the chance to meet with local ventures from Türkiye and around the globe, engaging in idea exchange,” Özhan said.

Amazon Web Services expands in Türkiye with new edge location

Türkiye’s rapidly growing gaming, media, and similar technology ventures engaged in global business will now experience seamless and uninterrupted services as Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced an expansion in the country by launching a new Amazon CloudFront edge location in Istanbul.

The world’s largest cloud computing provider said customers in Türkiye can expect up to 30% improvement in latency and performance, on average, for data delivered through the new edge location.

The new AWS edge location brings the full benefits provided by Amazon CloudFront, a secure, highly distributed, and scalable content delivery network (CDN) that delivers static and dynamic content, APIs, and live and on-demand video with low latency and high performance.

The next anticipated step is the provision of AWS’s data center services in Türkiye, although the company has not yet made any official announcements.

Burak Aydın, the general manager of AWS Türkiye, expressed excitement about expanding their presence in the country and offering more advanced cloud technologies to their customers.

3D printed clouds and figurines are seen in front of the Amazon Web Service cloud service logo in this illustration taken Feb. 8, 2022. (Reuters Photo)
3D printed clouds and figurines are seen in front of the Amazon Web Service cloud service logo in this illustration taken Feb. 8, 2022. (Reuters Photo)

“With Amazon CloudFront, a wide range of customers from startups to commercial enterprises and public sector organizations benefit from faster content delivery and enhanced security,” said Aydın.

He further emphasized their commitment to meeting the growing needs of customers and, supporting local businesses’ growth and increasing economic productivity in Türkiye.

“After launching AWS Outposts in January, we are now announcing the new Edge Location for CloudFront in Türkiye. These two innovations underscore our commitment to meeting our customers’ growing needs, supporting local businesses’ growth, and increasing economic productivity in Türkiye.”

Easier traffic management

The introduction of local AWS infrastructure in Türkiye will aid organizations across various sectors, such as education, media and entertainment, health care, financial services and e-commerce, in achieving faster innovation.

BluTV, a leading subscription-based video-on-demand service in Türkiye, is among those who welcome this development.

Asım Yılmaz, the headend manager at BluTV, said Amazon CloudFront is a fast, secure, and easily manageable service for running their applications.

“The scalability of Amazon CloudFront allows us to achieve maximum productivity when our traffic intensity is inconsistent. The flexibility of CloudFront ensures optimal performance of our CDN infrastructure, providing BluTV users with seamless and high-quality experiences,” said Yılmaz.

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