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Small businesses lack digital ambition

Three things in particular stand in the way of the digitisation of small and medium-sized businesses: boards, management and employees. A new handbook and a digital mentor corps have been launched to help businesses overcome these barriers. 
WiseCon, a Danish business, is one example of a small company that has used the opportunities offered by digitisation to produce smart rat traps.

Publiceret: 17.11.2016
Af Felix Bekkersgaard Stark mail

Managers and owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are not necessarily interested in delving into the development opportunities offered by digitisation.

Boards are not pressing for change and if they were, they would have difficulty getting hold of the employees they need to drive digital change.

That is the conclusion of a survey of the barriers to digital growth in SMEs based on interviews with 15 businesses from all industries across Denmark.

“Some of the business executives we interviewed do not believe that there is any danger that they will be outmatched. They do not feel that they have the time or resources to identify their options and they do not necessarily have any wish to grow their business,” explains Senior Consultant Christian Hannibal from DI Digital.

See also: Barrieres for digital growth in SMEs (in Danish)

Get inspired!

“With an attitude like that, it will be very difficult to generate new jobs in existing enterprises,” says Christian Hannibal and continues:

“When a Danish-Portuguese entrepreneur can design an app to enable supermarkets to order oranges directly from producers, it shows that digitisation affects all industries. That is why it is vital to engage with it.”

To tackle the barriers to digitisation, the Confederation of Danish Industry has produced a leaflet based on the information obtained from the 15 enterprises. The leaflet provides tips for SMEs on how to get started on digitisation and automation.

“The most important tip is to be ready to find inspiration both externally and among your employees and to involve members of the board who have knowledge about digitisation and automation. The point is that you have to have a sounding board in place,” says Christian Hannibal.

See also: 10 places to get help with digitisation

Digital mentors are on hand

In addition to the leaflet, the Confederation of Danish Industry has set up a digital mentor corps currently comprising 20 people with different digitisation and automation skills. They are on hand to provide company executives with one-to-one feedback on digital requirements.

Among them is Managing Director Mette Nikander from IT security company C-cure. She finds that businesses with younger managers or a young board are much more likely to be willing to tackle digitisation.

“They are hungrier, have a greater belief that it can be done and are more likely to seek out new knowledge and ideas. It can be difficult to provide advice for businesses when you have a product you are trying to sell, but if you offer facts or are able to refer to statements made by the police, for example, about how dangerous it is not to be on top of your security arrangements, it helps,” says Mette Nikander.

She is looking forward to meeting businesses that have themselves applied to the mentor corps because they want to move forward on digitisation.

“What deters some businesses from increasing their efforts is that they have never met anyone who is in the process of digitisation. You hear objections like: ‘it is too expense’, ‘it is too difficult’, ‘we don’t have the time’, ‘it cannot be done in our field’. But these are just bad excuses. Those who feel that they are losing competitiveness somehow find that they are able to get moving,” says Mette Nikander.

You hear objections like: ‘it is too expense’, ‘it is too difficult’, ‘we don’t have the time’, ‘it cannot be done in our field’. But these are just bad excuses.
MANAGING DIRECTOR METTE NIKANDER, C-CURE
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PUBLISHED: 11/17/2016 LAST MODIFIED: 11/17/2016