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Industrie 4.0

Small businesses risk missing the digitalization boat

A shortage of qualified personnel and lack of strategies are in particular preventing SMEs from pushing ahead with the digitalization of their companies. Especially small businesses are running the risk of being left behind.

28 Mar. 2018
HMI-ID03-052kt_Ernst & Young GmbH
Small businesses risk missing the digitalization boat (chart: Ernst & Young GmbH)

A new survey by auditing and consultancy company EY of 2,000 SMEs in Germany depicts a precarious, but also differentiated picture of the current digitalization situation. Although 74% of the companies surveyed were aware of just how important digital technologies are for production and sales and a third already have a Chief Digital Officer at management level, small businesses in particular seem to be falling behind: Only 55% of those companies with a turnover of less than €30 million state that digital technologies play a moderately important or very important role for them (companies with over €100 million in turnover: 66%). In addition, smaller businesses tend to see investments in modernization as less of an opportunity. The main issues here appear to be the relevant costs involved and major problems attracting qualified personnel, who tend to prefer to work for large and/or well-known companies.

Differences were also found between individual sectors and regions in Germany: While the energy and water supply sector, for instance, is comparatively ‘modern’, the construction sector is lagging behind. Especially in the East German federal states, companies are showing little initiative to set about digitalizing their operations. According to a study exclusive to the Handelsblatt , this phenomenon is, however, also affecting numerous family businesses.