France’s national digital agency CNNum has finalized a new report on the state of the digital transformation of SMEs and how to accelerate it to reach the level of other European countries.
France has had some success in supporting the digital transformation of larger companies and start-ups (Frech Tech), but its smaller enterprises (SMEs) are lagging behind their neighbours – only 15% of them are involved in e-trade compared to 31% in Ireland and 24% in Germany.
A “French Tech” for SMEs to catch up
An initial diagnostic was produced by the CNNum last July which provides an overview of the situation. The new report, submitted last Autumn but no yet published, looks at the status of French SMEs’ digital transformation and possible measures to support its acceleration. This is needful, says Guy Mamou-Mani, CNNum Vice President “because they represent 50% of employment in France”. There are about 3 million SMEs in France, representing 99% of all French companies.
Earlier programmes have failed to federate businesses and local initiatives and to draw on the innovating potential of this largest chunk of the French economy.
The main areas where French SMEs are lagging are identified as : only two-thirds of businesses have a commercial presence on the internet ; just 16% sell on-line, 19% use a CRM system and 30% are present on social networks.
Fiscal writing off of investments in digitization
The measures envisaged in the report include enabling fiscal support for the writing off of investments, including investments in training for the digitization of the company’s key processes.
Other measures envisaged are the creation of a dedicated certification (called “#croissanceconnectée“), of an assistance network, of a platform offering resources, support for expanding abroad (internationalization), local financial assistance, training etc.
Yann Bonnet, CNNum’s Secretary General says “Starting a website equipped for e-trade costs from 5 000 to 20 000 euros, and it may be attractive to opt for on-line sales platforms, start a Facebook page or have a slot on the local municipal website”. Assistance for businesses to work more with foreign suppliers and clients is also examined, including negotiating deals with on-line marketplaces adapted specifically for SMEs.
Europages offers solutions for SMEs seeking to increase their on-line reach in Europe.
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