Business Articles

Digital Trends: the role of SMEs in Digital Transformation in Europe

November 28, 2019

The newly elected European Commission led by Ursula Von der Leyen has put tackling climate change at the top of its agenda. Europe has the opportunity to make the green economy a flagship for global change.

The role of SMEs, the backbone of Europe’s businesses, has never been more important and the digital economy will play an instrumental part on making this happen.

The MEP-led European Internet Forum recently launched a summary of the Top 10 Digital Trends that will shape Europe’s future, providing a useful context in which European policy, prospective regulation and the green economy can develop.

At the head of the list is the need for robust defence of democracy and press freedom from malevolent cyber-attacks. At the same time as the enormous potential of emerging technologies to confront many of the challenges facing society, there are also concerns over issues such as AI ethics and risks of inbuilt biases – it is critical that diverse voices help to shape our responses, ensuring SMEs are well positioned to support.

The EU has set some initial boundaries with its GDPR standards, but the EIF recognises that the ownership of and access to data is already becoming the primary source of economic and political power. The EU focus has very much been on personal data protection, as well as anti-trust policy but at the same time open access to business data for SMEs in particular should play a key role.

For Europe to remain competitive, the roll out of 5G and high performance network coverage will enable global digital transformation for all businesses everywhere, supporting business development without barriers. These developments also carry further risks of cyber-security and threats of online harm, and subsequent calls for internet regulation to re-establish trust online.

TIAO has recognised that trust is a fundamental for businesses to unleash the full potential of the internet. Trust is hard-won, and too easily lost as we have seen over recent months and years. We have set up the global B2B business platform to bring together traditional networks of chambers of Commerce across the globe to allow their members to develop global business connections in a secure and trusted environment.

Digital transformation is the key to future economic growth. Giving SMEs everywhere the tools to be part of creating the future of work will allow the widest sharing of opportunities including education and training in digital skills.

Europe will need to provide digital leadership as well as more cross-border cooperation on tax and fiscal strategies if we are to successfully ensure the digital transformation of our economies and societies.

Both public and private sectors have a role to play and collaborative working across Europe and beyond can be a key factors in successfully repositioning European SMEs at the heart of the new greener economy.

Glynis Whiting, Managing Partner TIAO.

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