E-leadership: how SMEs can benefit from the Digital Single Market

Brussels, 9 September 2015 – Oliver Grün, president of PIN-SME, participated in the EU experts round table about e-leadership skills for SMEs. He stressed that the Digital Single Market (DSM), as outlined by the European Commission in its recent DMS strategy communication, is a great opportunity for SMEs. However, only few companies nowadays are able to fully profit from it, whereas the majority of companies is still missing this opportunity because it lacks the fundamental skills. Oliver Grün elaborated that SMEs need to become e-leaders and, thus, exploit the huge possibilities offered by a wide range of new technologies that nowadays have become accessible to all, such as Cloud Computing, Mobile apps, Social Media, Internet of Things, etc. Referring to the DSM strategy communication of the EC he quoted a recent study that highlights how more than 50% of the e-commerce that involves more than one EU country happens in just 1% of the websites.

Mr Grün explained that the large majority of 20+ Million SMEs in Europe are not digital native, so they are under-exploiting the potential benefits offered by new technologies.

cross border e-commerce

Source: Alaveras and Martens, ‘Online services trade in the EU Digital Single Market’, JRC/IPTS Digital Economy Working Paper, forthcoming 2015

Successful companies are instead real e-leaders, either because they are managed by young digitally proficient professionals or because they have undergone the digital transformation.

Whereas the experts workshop concentrated around the definition of e-leadership skills and the policy recommendations to boost skills in SMEs, Mr Grün insisted that the key role in the digital transformation will be played by the IT small and medium sized companies that act as a transformation agent and transfer the digital skills to SMEs.

On behalf of PIN-SME and its members, Oliver Grün warmly recommended the EU policy makers to invest in Europe’s IT SMEs as a strength that is capable of bringing digital enablement to all SMEs.

The workshop was organised as part of the service contract e-Leadership Skills for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises launched by the European Commission DG GROWTH. The purpose was developing targeted actions for start-ups and fast growing SMEs to provide them with relevant e-leadership skills and qualifications for entrepreneurs, managers and advanced ICT users that are recognized trans-nationally. This initiative is a contribution to the follow up of the Commission’s Communication on “e-Skills for the 21st Century” which presents an EU long term e-skills agenda.

The main focus of this service contract is on e-leadership in SMEs and start-up firms. e-Leadership has been defined as the accomplishment of a goal that relies on information and communication technologies (ICT) through the direction of human resources and uses of ICT. This type of leadership is thus distinguished by the type of goal that needs to be accomplished and the type of resources a leader must coordinate and align: both the goal and the resources involve using ICT.