The SME Digitalisation Plan 2021-2025 will support digital entrepreneurship by trying to close social, territorial and gender gaps.
The Spanish Government has recently approved the Digitalisation Plan for SMEs for the period 2021-2025 in which 4,654 million euros will be invested. The Plan is framed as a priority of the Spain Digital Agenda 2025, the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, the European strategies of Shaping Europe's Digital Future, and Strategy for SMEs for a more sustainable and digital Europe.
According to the SME data study presented in September 2019, in Spain, companies with less than 50 workers, micro-SMEs and self-employed are 2,838,261 companies, representing 99% of Spanish enterprises and 49% of employment. Placing the contribution to employment and gross business value 5 percentage points above the European average in 2018, according to the Digitalisation Plan for SMEs 2021-2025.
4,654 million euros will be earmarked to boost digitalisation, of which 1,000 million will be invested in technology.
Lack of funding, poor technical training of its employees and managers, or limited access to suitable products such as technological means and tools, are some of the difficulties that an SME can find when it comes to boosting its digitalisation.
In order to avoid these potential difficulties, 1 billion euros will be invested in the technological section in the period 2021-2023, with the aim of financing the incorporation of different information systems: enabling tools, training, website, ERP resource management system, CRM customer management system, internet sales, and digital marketing systems, among others. It will also support the automation of the most complex and innovative models that would need to integrate more disruptive solutions such as the use of data, IT, artificial intelligence, or cloud services.
The SME digitalisation plan, which will be focused especially on the industry, tourism and commerce sectors, is structured in five strategic axes (Basic digitalisation for SMEs, Support for change management, Disruptive innovation and digital entrepreneurship, Support for sectorial digitalisation and Coordination of efficiencies and reform) that are developed through 16 actions. Among them, is the Acelera pyme Program, which will represent a challenge in the digitalisation of small and medium-sized companies in our country over the next few years.
The technological participation of Spanish SMEs is low, although they show a positive evolution in terms of digitalisation.
According to the E-Pyme 2019 report published by ONTSI (National Telecommunications and Information Society Observatory), the number of microenterprises that are progressively integrating into their processes shows a positive evolution in recent years. However, there are two key factors that create a knowledge gap about ICTs compared to larger companies that makes the digitalisation a pending subject in microenterprises.
On the one hand, we can find the lack of access to information on existing tools and, on the other, the lack of knowledge about the benefits, applications, and uses of technology beyond the training on specific tools. In addition, microenterprises focus their activity on revenue generation and find neither the time nor the economic resources to develop digitalisation.
This has been compounded by the unexpected pandemic of Covid-19, which is particularly affecting SMEs and some specific sectors of activity driving them to adapt to new business models, new sustainability requirements, diversification of distribution channels, and ways of working through digital tools in order to maintain their activity and take advantage of this unfavourable scenario. Some good examples of adaptation are teleworking, e-commerce, digital marketing, online events and food delivery in the hospitality industry.
The Digitalisation Plan will also support digital entrepreneurship by trying to narrow social, territorial and gender gaps.
According to the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), the rate of Entrepreneurial Activity collected by TEA (Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity) which includes both consolidated entrepreneurs and potential or early-stage entrepreneurs was 6.1% in 2019, well below the European Union average (9.6%).
In addition, a significant gender gap is evident. This situation is reflected in the latest DESI (Digital Economy and Society Index) report: only 15.6% of Spanish start-ups were founded by women in 2018 and only 1.1% of total female employment are ICT specialists.
The Digitalisation Plan will help boost digital entrepreneurship, considering as inherent objectives the reduction of social, territorial and gender gaps. This is the only way Spain will be able to position itself as a more innovative, dynamic, and competitive economy at European level.