The Digital Transformation of SMEs

image of The Digital Transformation of SMEs

Despite potentially tremendous benefits, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) lag in the digital transformation. Emerging technologies, as diverse as they are, offer a range of applications for them to improve performance and overcome the size-related limitations they face in doing business. However, SMEs must be better prepared, and stakes are high. SMEs make the most of the industrial fabric in many countries and regions, they create jobs (most jobs sometimes) and are the cement of inclusive and sustainable societies. The SME digital gap has increased inequalities among people, places and firms, and there are concerns that the benefits of the digital transformation could accrue to early adopters, further broadening these inequalities. Enabling SME digitalisation has become a top policy priority in OECD countries and beyond. The report looks at recent trends in SME digital uptake, including in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. It focuses on issues related to digital security, online platforms, blockchain ecosystems, and artificial intelligence. The report identifies opportunities, risks of not going digital, and barriers to adoption. It looks to concrete policy action taken worldwide to speed the SME transformation and raises a series of considerations to advance the SME digital policy agenda.


Artificial intelligence: Changing landscape for SMEs

Artificial Intelligence (AI) could trigger a new production revolution, radically transforming business practices and conditions. This chapter aims to provide an understanding of what AI is, its potential impact on SME activities, and barriers to adoption. The first section examines the rise of data-driven AI systems. The second section looks at the implications of these technological changes on SME practices and business environment. It looks at how AI can drive greater efficiency in the SME sector, across different industries and along SMEs’ internal value chain, as well as how AI can improve SME business conditions. The third section discusses how AI diffuses differently within the SME sector, and elaborates on the barriers and challenges smaller businesses face when they consider AI adoption. Overall, this work intends to stress some areas where policy intervention could be considered.



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