Adopting information and communication technologies (ICTs) in businesses requires a substantial investment. Large enterprises can afford this financial effort, but it is often a challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers. The eAPyme Report: Digital Transformation in SMEs and Freelancers in Spain, a joint publication by eAPyme Association and ESADE Senior Lecturer Josep Lluís Cano, reveals how Spanish SMEs and freelancers are adopting new technologies and discusses the benefits and barriers they encounter during this digital transformation process. The report, based on qualitative research, analyzed the opinions of SMEs belonging to the eAPyme association in 7 major sectors in Spain: accommodation and hotels, food and beverages, logistics, urban distribution of goods, arts and crafts, information and communication technologies, and professional services. 5 major benefits of adopting ICT According to the study, SMEs and freelancers agree that there are 5 major benefits of adopting new technologies: 1. Internal efficiency ICTs improve and facilitate work, make processes and daily operational tasks more agile, and help to increase productivity levels. This is a critical aspect in sectors such as the food industry. 2. Customer and market relations ICTs can improve customer relations and provide broader knowledge of the market. New technologies offer the capacity to obtain more information about customers, facilitate faster and more direct communication, and increase the personalization of the services offered. Information technologies are also valued as instruments that allow businesses to expand their knowledge of markets, segments and their potential value. SMEs and freelancers insist that employees must be trained to generate direct sales without having to deal with technology platform intermediaries, especially in markets such as tourism. 3. Branding and communications ICTs contribute to promoting a stronger brand image, reputation, positioning and visibility both in the real world and the digital one. ICTs contribute to promoting a stronger brand image, reputation, positioning and visibility 4. Third-party collaborations Information technologies are seen as an opportunity to facilitate collaboration between SMEs or freelancers and third-party partners or collaborators. 5. ICT integration For information technologies to be effective, SMEs and freelancers must implement a top-down approach-that is, to have a clear idea of the value these technologies can bring and the benefits they can provide to the whole company. 3 major barriers According to the eAPyme Report, the following major barriers make it more difficult for SMEs and freelancers in Spain to adopt information and communication technologies. 1. ICT needs SMEs and freelancers agree that the wide range of ICT solutions don't always cover or meet their specific needs. They also complain about the need to use several suppliers due to the lack of a single supplier capable of covering all of their needs at once. Once ICT solutions are adopted, another handicap faced by SMEs and freelancers is a lack of sector standards and the difficulty of trying to integrate such standards into their established systems. 2. Costs Another challenge SMEs and freelancers face in Spain is the lack of financial resources and personnel to successfully implement these technologies. Both groups believe that the high cost of ICT services makes it more difficult to recover the investment made. 3. Internal needs SMEs and freelancers also warn of the lack of trained personnel with sufficient knowledge to ensure a successful implementation of these technologies. They are aware of the need to train employees in the use of ICTs, but they do not always have the time or financial resources to do so.

ESADE

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Benefits and barriers to adopting information technologies in SMEs

05/2018


Adopting information and communication technologies (ICTs) in businesses requires a substantial investment. Large enterprises can afford this financial effort, but it is often a challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and freelancers.


The eAPyme Report: Digital Transformation in SMEs and Freelancers in Spain, a joint publication by eAPyme Association and ESADE Senior Lecturer Josep Lluís Cano, reveals how Spanish SMEs and freelancers are adopting new technologies and discusses the benefits and barriers they encounter during this digital transformation process.


The report, based on qualitative research, analyzed the opinions of SMEs belonging to the eAPyme association in 7 major sectors in Spain: accommodation and hotels, food and beverages, logistics, urban distribution of goods, arts and crafts, information and communication technologies, and professional services.


5 major benefits of adopting ICT


According to the study, SMEs and freelancers agree that there are 5 major benefits of adopting new technologies:

1. Internal efficiency


ICTs improve and facilitate work, make processes and daily operational tasks more agile, and help to increase productivity levels. This is a critical aspect in sectors such as the food industry.


2. Customer and market relations


ICTs can improve customer relations and provide broader knowledge of the market. New technologies offer the capacity to obtain more information about customers, facilitate faster and more direct communication, and increase the personalization of the services offered.


Information technologies are also valued as instruments that allow businesses to expand their knowledge of markets, segments and their potential value.


SMEs and freelancers insist that employees must be trained to generate direct sales without having to deal with technology platform intermediaries, especially in markets such as tourism.


3. Branding and communications


ICTs contribute to promoting a stronger brand image, reputation, positioning and visibility both in the real world and the digital one.


ICTs contribute to promoting a stronger brand image, reputation, positioning and visibility


4. Third-party collaborations


Information technologies are seen as an opportunity to facilitate collaboration between SMEs or freelancers and third-party partners or collaborators.


5. ICT integration


For information technologies to be effective, SMEs and freelancers must implement a top-down approach-that is, to have a clear idea of the value these technologies can bring and the benefits they can provide to the whole company.


3 major barriers


According to the eAPyme Report, the following major barriers make it more difficult for SMEs and freelancers in Spain to adopt information and communication technologies.


1. ICT needs


SMEs and freelancers agree that the wide range of ICT solutions don't always cover or meet their specific needs. They also complain about the need to use several suppliers due to the lack of a single supplier capable of covering all of their needs at once.


Once ICT solutions are adopted, another handicap faced by SMEs and freelancers is a lack of sector standards and the difficulty of trying to integrate such standards into their established systems.


2. Costs


Another challenge SMEs and freelancers face in Spain is the lack of financial resources and personnel to successfully implement these technologies. Both groups believe that the high cost of ICT services makes it more difficult to recover the investment made.


3. Internal needs


SMEs and freelancers also warn of the lack of trained personnel with sufficient knowledge to ensure a successful implementation of these technologies. They are aware of the need to train employees in the use of ICTs, but they do not always have the time or financial resources to do so.

More Knowledge
Informe eAPyme 2017: Transformación digital en las pymes y los autónomos españoles
Cano Giner, Josep Lluís
eAPyme, 12/2017
33 p.
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