Utilization of new technologies has contributed to the resilience of businesses during the pandemic. This is one of the conclusions of the study on “The effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on the business continuity and resilience of SMEs: the critical role of technology”, presented online, conducted by the Athens Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the University of Piraeus.
“The pandemic period was a major turning point in modern entrepreneurship. On the one hand, it unimaginably hit the majority of businesses – especially small and medium-sized ones – and on the other hand, it marked the beginning of a new era due to their digital transformation.” As part of the event, the president of the Central Union of Chambers and the Athens Chamber of Commerce Giannis Chatzitheodosiou.
The pandemic has brought about dramatic changes in the broader business macro environment, encouraging companies to adopt digital technology on a larger scale and under time pressure. According to studies, digital technology allows companies to transform their business models quickly, rather than in traditional or linear ways. In particular, the digitization of the business world helps small and medium-sized enterprises to create a new digital network, which allows the dominance of large enterprises to be overcome. As small and medium-sized enterprises play an important role in determining a country’s economy, the emergence and development of the digital market is very important.
The technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution can be used to improve the resilience and continuity of operations. Technologies such as digital supply chain, data analysis, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, digital commerce and the Internet of Things can increase the resilience and flexibility of organizations and enable them to perform better than they do. their counterparts in turbulent or unstable environments.
In general, SMEs adopt different degrees of digital transformation, which can be summarized in three components: a) SMEs with a high level of digital maturity that respond to the challenges by accelerating the transition to digital businesses, and c) SMEs that have very limited digital literacy but are supported by a high level of social capital. Other research findings suggest that SME innovation practices have a significant impact on their performance and survival.
Empirical findings reveal that the ability to innovate is essential for the survival of an SME during a crisis and confirm the positive impact of marketing innovation and process innovation on the financial performance of SMEs during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The research carried out by the Athens Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the University of Piraeus and scientifically responsible Professor Gr. digital knowledge and skills of their staff and the extent to which they use them in their work. More than three in four companies (75.9%) have human resources that in the vast majority (more than 80%) operate a computer at work.
It is undeniable that business viability and development strategies require the utilization of modern IT tools. This is something that is embraced by the majority of companies in the sample, as only 2.7% of respondents believe that there is no expediency, such as to arouse the company’s interest in upgrading its technological infrastructure. On the contrary, one in three of the companies in the sample seeks and manages to provoke technological developments and / or adopt them before most of its competitors.
Of similar interest are the data related to the evolution of turnover that came from sales of goods / services via the internet. Thus, the majority of companies (54.05%) saw an increase in relative turnover during the pandemic while a small percentage (13.52%) found a decrease.
Respondents’ views on the extent to which they believe that the use of new technologies contributed to the resilience of businesses during the pandemic have the same characteristics as the previous record, with a further shift in favor of positive views. Thus, 10% believe that the relevant contribution was limited (very little, little – the option “not at all” does not appear) while more than three in four companies in the sample (77.9%) believe that the use of new technologies has contributed significantly to business resilience (very, very, absolutely). The median value of the data collected corresponds to the area described as “too much”.
Corresponding findings emerge from the question referring to the extent to which respondents believe that the use of new technologies contributes to the faster recovery of the company’s pace after a crisis. More than half (58.4%) believe it too much or completely, 34.9% much or enough, while only 6.7% of the respondents believe it less (not at all, very little, little). The median value of the data collected corresponds to the area described as “too much”.
Finally, the research examined the characteristics of companies that showed excellent performance during the pandemic period. These are defined as those companies in the sample that managed to increase their turnover during the pandemic period by more than or equal to 30%. These represent 9.4% of the sample. In the case of businesses that had a significant increase in turnover during the pandemic, micro-enterprises account for 78.6% and small enterprises for 21.4%. More than seven out of ten of these companies showed similar performance during the period 2009-2019 (increase in turnover by more than or equal to 30%). 92.8% are active in the field of services. These companies have a significant contribution to employability, as they have for the most part an increase in the number of employees they employ. The vast majority of these companies are particularly interested in technological developments. More than 85% of these companies adopt and / or challenge the technological developments in their industry. It is noteworthy that half of the companies in this category consider that the adoption of technological developments is also an important component for creating a competitive advantage.
President of EEC and KEEE G. Chatzitheodosiou
“We consider the cooperation of the chambers with the universities of the country of key importance and this study proves the importance that the EEC gives to this union of forces that can only benefit the effort of the country to enter a development trajectory.
The pandemic period was a major turning point in modern entrepreneurship. On the one hand, it “hurt” the majority of companies unimaginably – mainly small and medium-sized companies – and on the other hand, it marked the beginning of a new era due to their digital transformation, which is also evident from the results of the study.
We must not forget, however, that the main priority of the chambers remains the effort to save the companies that have been affected by the pandemic and that are currently affected by the price increases. The government has taken supportive measures, but it does not seem to be enough to save those companies that are at risk.
In order to address the problems plaguing the market at this critical time, the chamber community has submitted targeted proposals.
– Increase the installments from 72 to 120 in order to give a significant breath to the business
– More financial tools to boost liquidity
– Increase the subsidy rate to address the wave of increases in energy costs
– Reduction of VAT from 13% to 6% on basic goods so that there is no excessive burden on the housewife’s basket
“Abolition of the obligation to return the Refundable Advance and exemption of rent for the affected companies, for the duration of the health crisis”.
Professor Grigoris Chondrokoukis, University of Piraeus, Vice Rector for Research and Lifelong Learning
“In a highly competitive environment, in a difficult time, the University of Piraeus implements an ambitious plan to consolidate itself in the research sector through a network of initiatives which I mention, the promotion of the development of new international agreements, our connection with the world the production, the diffusion of research and knowledge in society, the development of collaborations for the creation of “mixed” research structures and infrastructures with the participation of our researchers and the continuous claiming of resources from national, EU and international resources.
“The ESA research aimed to investigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business continuity and resilience of SMEs in relation to the critical role of technology.”
Source From: Capital