How important is digitization for Swiss SMEs?

The company “APP Unternehmensberatung AG” has published a report on digitization among Swiss SMEs in 2021. The key findings are that the importance of digitization is rated as important to very important by 75% of Swiss SMEs. Here, digitization is not understood as a single project, but rather as an ongoing process in which company management and staff deal with the future direction.
The prioritized goals pursued with digitization are relatively similar worldwide and across all industries. In the long term, the aim is to secure competitiveness, limit risks and ensure high profitability by means of:
1. satisfied customers
2. product & service improvement
3. efficient processes
4. satisfied employees

The biggest hurdles of digitization are seen by SMEs in the following points:
1. costs incurred
2. competencies of employees & development of know-how
3. legal uncertainties & need for adaptation.

Status quo of Swiss SMEs:

In Switzerland, SMEs account for around 60% of value creation and are therefore an integral part of economic value creation. However, successful digitization in SMEs often fails at the very beginning and thus jeopardizes future security. Studies show that many superiors find it difficult to determine where to even start with “digitization”, what the focus should be, and how agreed measures can be effectively implemented.
However, it is optimistic that many SMEs have an exceptionally good starting position in the area of customer service and sales. Close customer contact means that digital changes can be discussed with customers more straightforwardly and implemented more quickly than in large companies.
As P. Warnking of PWC Switzerland notes: “Consumers in Switzerland are very active when it comes to using digital platforms – it is often the companies that lag behind. For example, although many SMEs have recognized that digitization is a key to success, at the same time they often do not even have a smartphone-optimized website. In this respect, countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England or the Netherlands are one step ahead of us.”
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