Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)1 are the beating heart of Europe’s economy, and our post-COVID-19 recovery will be dependent on how well they are able to recover and thrive, driving innovation and job creation across the continent.
There has been much discussion in recent months about how best to support small businesses through these difficult times. For example, at Vodafone we have focused on providing the services and tools that enable SMEs to empower themselves and increase their digitalisation capabilities in order to adapt and keep working safely and strongly.
But now is the time to systematise SME digitalisation, and consider how the EU Recovery Fund can be best used at a national level to support SME resilience and recovery. This study analyses the experiences of SMEs through the crisis, from the start of the pandemic up until July 2020 – and it clearly demonstrates how digital has supported SME resilience through the period.
We have also used this research to look to the future, and consider how government digital policy can best support SMEs and ensure we do not see the ‘digital divide’ that was already evident in this area become further entrenched as result of the COVID-19 crisis. We believe the findings are very relevant to governments as they put in place policies to ensure that SMEs have what they need to bounce back from COVID-19.
We hope the findings prove useful.
The existing 24 million SMEs play a significant role in the economic structure of Europe, driving economic growth and providing economic opportunities for Europeans. Their variety is immense, from fast-moving, digital-first start-ups through to more traditional, strictly analogue high street businesses that have yet to acquire the skills to benefit from the latest digital innovations. Digitalisation is integral to the growth and resilience of enterprises, both large and small. An analysis across 21 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries found that a 10% increase in mobile broadband penetration causes a 0.6%–2.8% increase in GDPi . Despite the wide-ranging benefits of digitalisation, data indicates SMEs lag behind in adoption of nearly all technologies in comparison to larger businesses.
To download the study clik here.