It is now well established that Business Intelligence and the digital revolution are among the major resources for large companies and indispensable processes for positioning on the markets.
The digitalization of large companies is proving to be as rapid and constant as the digital revolution in Italian SMEs is slow and lagging behind. Even if since last year the smaller companies have started to accelerate the pace towards the digitization of business processes, there is still a long way to go.
Small and Medium Enterprises: 2022 was a positive year for their health
Going in order, from various sector studies carried out in the past year, it emerges that the state of health of SMEs has had a marked improvement compared to previous years. This is the data found, in particular, in the manufacturing, construction, business services, and fashion sectors, as also underlined by PMI.it.
The tenth edition of the PMI Observatory highlighted that what made this positive trend possible was the strategy based on care and attention towards the customer.
SME growth 2022: the centrality of the customer and digitalization at the base
According to the aforementioned study, 724 companies were excellent protagonists of digitization in 2022, out of a selection of 60 thousand companies with a turnover above 5 million euros. To make some companies strategically better and more successful, it was above all the ability to put the customer at the center of management, promotion, and marketing policies.
From this perspective, digitization and the will of SMEs to achieve goals in this area are once again the masters. In this regard, Stefano Nuzzo, Project Leader of the Observatory of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, said:
“Even excellent entrepreneurs record a greater complexity in satisfying the customer than in the past, which they try to overcome through the search for more direct relationships in which the property itself is often involved, but more and more will have to learn to take advantage of tools and digital innovation “.
SME digital revolution: although advantageous, it is relegated to the marketing
In the study proposed by Talent Garden, Cisco Italia, Enel, and Intesa Sanpaolo, and dedicated precisely to Digital Transformation in SMEs, it is highlighted how the perception by companies of the possible advantages deriving from digitization is correct but how, at the same time, this remains relegated to the Marketing sector.
Translated into numbers, this means that on the sample of SMEs examined in the study, even if 67% of companies recognize how much digital transformation can positively impact the business and organization, the professional figures it is associated with are almost exclusively those of marketing and not of the entire company.
Consequently, it is mainly the communication and business promotion sectors that benefit from the improvements deriving from this transformation. For this reason, the digitization rate is so slow to increase among the small and medium-sized enterprises of our country.
The ” digital apprentices ” surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce
Always illustrative of the Italian situation is the study published at the end of 2022 by AdnKronos which showed the results of the test carried out by the Chamber of Commerce on the digitization rate of small and medium-sized enterprises in our country.
Also in this case it has emerged that many companies struggle to embark on the path of transformation. Once the change has begun, however, the results are very effective.
On a sample of 6000 companies subjected to the test:
- 30% were “Digital Specialists”: they digitized most of the processes ;
- 7% were “Digital Expert”: they apply the principles of Enterprise 4.0;
- 3% were “Digital Champion”: they performed a good level of process digitization.
Digitization: the gap between large companies and SMEs according to ISTAT
Wanting to further analyze the gap between large companies and SMEs in terms of digitization, we can also use the data published by ISTAT in the ICT 2019 Report. The survey examines various parameters from which it emerges that the greatest gap is evident in the following areas:
- Presence of ICT specialists within the company staff. In this respect, the two types of companies are separated by as many as 60 percentage points ;
- Connection speed. This parameter also contributes to the distance that exists between large and small companies. Here the percentage points of distance are 38 ;
- Still distant, but closer than the previous year, are the figures relating to online sales: the percentage of companies that have at least 1% of the turnover deriving from online sales has in fact risen from 7.4% to 9.3 . % ;
In addition to these analyzed data, progress in digital evolution was found throughout 2018 in the area of:
- a – electronic invoicing, with a transition from 30.3% in 2016 to 41.6% in 2018;
- b – purchase of medium-high level Cloud Computing services, with a percentage increased from 11.5% to 14.7%.
SMEs and digitization, younger companies dare more
According to Inside Marketing magazine, the biggest investments in digitization come from young companies. In support of this theory, the aforementioned study carried out by the School of Innovation of Talent Garden, Cisco Italia, Enel, and Intesa Sanpaolo can again be used.
Out of a sample of 500 companies, 53% of young companies invest most of their turnover in innovation, technology, and digital technology, compared to 47% represented by companies that have been on the market for more than 25 years.
SME digitization: still a long way to go but all to be traced
Starting from this current picture of Italian SMEs and their level of digitization, it can certainly be said that the conversion process is long and the road, for the most part, still has to be marked. For this reason, among the key objectives of the next three years for SMEs we find:
- the increasing use of big data ;
- let startups and their trends be contaminating;
- the sharp increase in online sales.
Obviously, professional figures are strictly connected to these purposes and in the coming years, even for SMEs, will be the most sought after:
- digital transformation specialists ;
- data analysis experts ;
- digital marketing experts ;
- mobile solution developers.
All these professionals, to date, are widely sought after and used by most large companies in the digital conversion processes that have already taken place, or at least started. All that remains for SMEs is to comply by undertaking their own path towards digital.