Our research team have been busy finalising results from our European SME digitalisation study over the last couple of months and finally here they are. We have been interested in gaining insight into how SMEs adopt and embed digital technologies through their firms and their perceptions of any value derived from doing so. A short overview report of the main findings which we sent to the participants from the four countries involved (Britain, Spain, Italy and Ireland) can be found on Researchgate.net or here.
Whilst we have a lot more in depth analysis to conduct on both the 43 interviews and 357 completed surveys key themes have already emerged. We were expecting to find large between country differences but there were few, mostly around the preference for certain digital tools for communication.
- Smaller firms share many similarities despite operating in differing industry sectors and different countries.
- Smaller firms see the potential for digitalisation across their whole firm not just within the Marketing function.
- Smaller firms as yet have not realised the potential of digitalisation.
- Smaller firms believe strongly in the attitudes of individuals within the firm driving the adoption of digital technologies.
As we delve further into the data we will be creating both academic frameworks to develop scholarship on the subject and also actionable insight for smaller firms to assist them in making the most of adopting digital technologies.
My wonderful research group are leading a programme of research on the digitalisation of European SMEs. Our study will identify the drivers of diglitalisation for European small business and how the adoption of digital technologies may lead to competitive advantage.
There is divided opinion on the value of digital technologies for smaller businesses. Authors such as Boges et al.,( 2009) and Harrigan et al., (2011) argue that digital technology is good for business. However, Bharadwaj (2000) and Thrassou and Vrontis (2008) suggest that digital technology advantage may be short lived. Giuri et al (2008) go further by saying that digital technologies may be detrimental as smaller business may lose focus by diverting attention to technology adoption.
So, having spent 9 months conducting a through literature review and interviewing 55 companies across 5 countries (UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Malta) we are now rolling out an online questionnaire to determine the factors which support digitalisation in SMEs and whether we can identify an orientation or particular perspective which lends itself to digital technology adoption.
So if you are or know of an European SME, please do participate in our research study, participants will receive a summary report of the findings if they so wish. SMEs are considered for this research to be firms which fit into one of these three categories – under 2m Euros annual turnover, under 10 m Euros annual turnover or under 50m Euros turnover.
Completion of the 22 question survey should take approximately 10 minutes and the deadline is 31st July 2015. The questionnaire requires no personal or competitively sensitive information and has been granted research ethics approval by Oxford Brookes University, number L14100.
I will post updates to the research and our findings over the next few months.