INSME at the OECD 5th Roundtable of the Digital for SMEs (D4SME)

27 April 2024

In 2023, generative AI, a user-friendly and powerful form of artificial intelligence, entered the business world. Unlike traditional AI used by large companies for data analysis, generative AI tools like Chat GPT, Microsoft Copilot, and Google Gemini offer a game-changing combination of affordability, accessibility, and impressive capabilities. These tools can churn out in-depth data analysis, customized business plans, product and management ideas, and even promotional content in seconds. EU firms have been quick to embrace this revolution, with over a third reported to have experimented with generative AI in 2023 alone. However, the rapid evolution of generative AI presents a double-edged sword for SMEs. While the technology offers exciting opportunities, its breakneck pace of development has caught many companies, experts, and even governments off guard.

Recognizing these challenges, the OECD’s Digital for SMEs (D4SME) Global Initiative hosted its 5th high-level roundtable discussion where INSME was represented, led by Viceminister Valentino Valentini.

This event has convened governments, technology firms, industry experts, and SMEs themselves to explore the impact of generative AI on SMEs, which was also the topic of the 19th INSME Annual Meeting in Berlin last year. A key focus was on how governments can collaborate with businesses of all sizes to ensure they can leverage this technology effectively. The discussion has been fuelled by insights from a new OECD survey titled: SME Digitalization in 2024 – Managing Shocks and Transitions conducted across seven countries and the latest expertise from the OECD AI Policy Observatory. 

SME Digitalisation Managing shocks and transitions”, the recent OECD report sheds light on latest trends in SME digital adoption and how it can increase their resilience to external shocks. The publication provides information on digital practices, take up of Artificial Intelligence applications including Generative AI, impact of digitalisation on mental wellbeing in the workplace, awareness and take-up of government supports for digitalisation. It also provides illustration of recent policy measures to support SME digitalisation across analysed geographies. By investigating survey results from SMEs in seven OECD countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Spain and the United States – the report provides valuable insights for governments, as they take action to accelerate SME digitalisation, and thus foster SME resilience in the face of short-term shocks and long-term transformations.

Data show that a large majority (72%) of surveyed businesses leverage data that are gathered and analysed digitally to support strategic decisions. The survey also highlights different needs of SMEs across, size, sectors and levels of digital maturity. For example, while 52% of retailers declare they have digitalised most of their activities, this is only the case for 15% of businesses in the food and beverage sector. The survey shows that SMEs are rapidly embracing “Generative AI” services with almost 1-in-5 businesses experimenting with the tool after less than a year from its release to the public. Further, 57% of respondent businesses perceive more opportunities than risks in using generative AI, in line with low barriers to entry in terms of skills and costs facilitating SMEs’ uptake.

Considerable barriers must still be overcome. Limited access to digital skills and training, as well as lack of time and financial resources to invest and maintain hardware and software solutions lower potential uptake of digital technologies by SMEs across OECD countries. And while basic security practices (e.g., use of passwords, two-step identification) are rather common among SMEs, proper digital security assessments and training are still relatively rare.

Click here to read all about the event.

Source: INSME Secretariat

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.