Digital shift in SMEs: a forced but necessary revolution

Digital shift in SMEs: a forced but necessary revolution

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Since the start of the pandemic and the rise of telework, companies and in particular SMEs (organizations with less than 250 employees) have been facing equipment problems in terms of software. Lack of knowledge, costs or even specific functionalities are all points that can discourage decision-makers from taking the turn of digital transformation. Meeting with Thibaut De Lataillade, CEO of GetApp.

What does GetApp offer?

Thibaut de Lataillade : GetApp is a platform that helps companies looking for software to refine their needs, compare the solutions available on the market, discover the opinions of more than 1.6 million users and get in touch with software publishers. It is currently available in more than 30 countries and 10 languages.

The health crisis has forced many companies to take the radical digital shift. Have you observed a boom in the use of SaaS software on the French market?

At the start of the pandemic, we saw a real need among companies for tools that facilitate telework. “How to maintain fluid communication at a distance? », « How to maintain strong teamwork? are all questions that SMEs have asked themselves. According to a survey we conducted, it turned out that 59% of them have invested in collaborative and communication tools to guarantee the continuity of their activity during confinement. This collaborative software has therefore suddenly become essential. 85% of adopted software was rated as “critical to business survival”.

Publishers of SaaS solutions thus had to meet the needs of many companies which were then seeking to transform themselves into a digital workplace, a work system fully accessible via digital tools such as corporate social networks.

This forced digital shift has also profoundly changed the relationship between employers and employees, raising, among other things, questions of trust within the teams themselves, particularly in terms of attendance and the ability of the workforce to produce as much as face-to-face.

We also observed that 45% of employees surveyed said that their company uses monitoring tools integrated into their workstations. While just under half of them accepted it and reaped benefits from it such as optimum safety and increased motivation, 59% rejected it, citing a form of infantilization or fear of harm to their private life.

Which industries do you think are lagging furthest behind in terms of digital transformation?

Many SMEs, VSEs and independent professions have been taken aback by the sudden change caused by the health crisis. Among them, liberal professions, such as lawyers, or small craft businesses that have never really taken the time to learn about digital. By not developing an online presence, these companies cut themselves off from a clientele accustomed to consulting or consuming online.

I think that all companies, whatever their sector, size or mission, must be attuned to digital developments to stay ahead of the competition. We have found that the vast majority of SME professionals have understood the interest of new technologies during the health crisis, as a vector of survival for some and growth for others, and now tend to perpetuate their use.

What are the strategies and solutions that French SMEs can adopt to compensate for a potential digital divide within teams?

Within a company, not all employees have the same facilities for understanding digital. A generational gap could be noted during the confinement: if the youngest employees had already become familiar with the technologies and had more facilities to adopt new software, their older colleagues had more difficulty adapting to their use and, consequently, to work remotely.

In order to ensure that all employees are comfortable with digital solutions, it is essential to organize training in new collaborative tools. It may also be relevant to open new communication channels, such as team and private chats, to ensure that no employee feels excluded and can exchange easily with all employees. Finally, software publishers can also offer free demonstrations and training, to facilitate a first approach for companies that are still undecided.

Precisely: on the side of software publishers, what card can French digital players play?

In comparison with other countries, we note in France that companies have less confidence in foreign publishers, in particular for reasons of protection of personal data, turning primarily to French publishers, who are more sensitive to GDPR issues and provide a service localized customer.

Regarding software purchasing trends by French SMEs, a study we published in March 2022 highlighted that security, ease of use, cost, customer support and training implementation were among their main selection criteria. French digital players therefore have a card to play to meet these various needs to attract local customers.

More and more companies are equipping themselves with tools to create a digital workplace or digital workplace. What are their benefits for the growth of a company?

Once again, the generalization of teleworking has encouraged the adoption of tools useful to several departments while facilitating collaboration or project management. For example, self-service business intelligence solutions allow novice, less technically advanced employees to create and analyze data from multiple sources. Via intuitive interfaces, SMEs can react more quickly!

What trends can you see emerging for 2022?

2022 is a year full of challenges, with some normalization of the pandemic and the resilience that comes with it. We have already spotted the tremendous dynamism of the medical sector with the record funding of startups around health, also helped by the recent creation by the government of La Health Tech. Its launch as well as the existence of movements like La French Tech or Les Pépites Tech are the symbol that the French territory is full of resources, talents and creativity in technology.

Other trends are emerging and continue to arouse the interest of users: virtual reality, the use of the metaverse to improve remote communication, artificial intelligence, 3D audio, decentralized finance… If all SMEs do not currently have the necessary funds to invest in this type of technology, however it is important that they keep themselves informed of their developments and imagine use cases in their sector.

The pandemic has definitely changed consumer habits and ways of working. More than ever, digital technology has brought about major revolutions, so much so that companies no longer have any choice but to appropriate them. A real turning point for the SMEs that we support throughout their digital transition.

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