SME digitalization in 2024 – Managing Shocks and Transitions: An OECD Survey

28 April 2024

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.

Source: INSME Secretariat

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