On December 2nd 2021, the OECD released the paper “SME Digitalisation to Build Back Better”, which aims to improve understanding on how SMEs responded to the COVID-19 crisis and adapted to the new environment, and how different players in their ecosystems are contributing to their digital transition.
The first part of the paper sets the scene on the digital transformation of SMEs, by providing an overview of key trends in SME uptake of digital technologies across OECD countries. The second part of the paper focuses on some of the main trends emerging from – or being strongly accelerated by – the COVID-19 crisis, including in relation with access to digital infrastructure, e-commerce and teleworking. These sections leverage existing literature and recent OECD work in this area, integrating them with evidence provided by partners of the OECD Digital for SMEs (D4SME) Global Initiative.
The third and last section of the paper discusses international practices in SME digitalisation policies and presents original evidence on approaches and measures to foster SME digitalisation within the “rescue” and “recovery” packages launched by OECD governments to face the crisis. While the emergency policy responses to the pandemic were largely focused on helping SMEs to “weather the storm” and get through the crisis, the attention of policy makers has gradually shifted to fostering structural changes that can strengthen SME long-term resilience and sustainability. The analysis integrates case studies and qualitative evidence provided by D4SME partners from the private sector, such as on selected programmes to support SME digitalisation, including in cooperation with OECD governments. These experiences are discussed in relation with key aspects of digitalisation they aim to address, their target audience and their longer-term objectives, beyond the pandemic period.
Read the full paper here.