The importance of SMEs in the European economy is not to be overlooked, as they account for 99% of European businesses and employ up to 90 million people. The current situation of European SMEs is in the basis of several reports by governments, academic researchers and even the private sector. Microsoft and Hult International Business School’s report ‘In Good Company’ is one of the latest documents detailing European SMEs’ practices, opportunities and challenges. The report has a particular focus on SMEs’ attitudes towards their main goals and their vision on digitisation.
The report has shown that European SMEs differ among them when defining keywords such as ‘success’ and ‘growth’. For instance, Danish, Dutch and Polish SMEs lead on defining growth as “pursuit of passion”; meanwhile, other countries such as Greece, Czech Republic and Hungary are inclined towards a definition which is closer to “making more money every year”. Even more surprising is the fact that, overall, European SMEs are more concerned about being known by indicators such as “quality of services” and “quality of products”, rather than of “speed of innovation”. This comes to show that a stable, quality-based business is often more important than having a reputation of being an innovator.
As Mr. Eleftherios, from Alice & Logan, a Germany-based SME has stated:
“Some people have an idea to make some money quickly, then there are brands that do things because they enjoy them. Of course I want the business to grow so that I can make a living out of it, but in a way that I can keep track of it so that it is fun and I enjoy it”.
Microsoft and Hult highlight the opportunities on digitisation, which encompasses great prospects for SMEs and can make them more competitive in local, European and International markets. Nevertheless, “only 41% of companies agreed that they spend what they should on IT, 37% agreed that they spend too little and the rest did not know”. This comes to show that , even though it presents itself as a possibility to increase productivity and competitiveness, digitisationis yet to be regarded as a priority for entrepreneurs.
Just as well, Microsoft’s “Walking In Your Shoes” article lists some recommendations that can help SMEs to benefit from digital tools, which include:
- Defining one’s own vision of success;
- Putting technology at the core;
- Working smarter, not harder; and making digitisation a concrete idea.
 Microsoft and Hult International Business School (2017) “In Good Company. A Study of SMEs Across Europe by Microsoft with Hult International Business School”. Accessed 12/06/2017, available [online]