Region-by-Region Comparison: Are Small And Midsize Businesses Ready For Digital Transformation?

Meaghan Sullivan

Part 5 of the “Thriving in the Digital Economy” series

Truly, 2016 is proving to be a year of extraordinary change and revolution. Every corner of the world is experiencing a historic shift in politics, economics, social interactions, and commerce. Not only is it influencing our everyday lives, but companies of all sizes are also feeling the squeeze on their profit margins and growth – forcing them to pay attention to digital transformation and its underlying impacts.

Are small and midsize businesses feeling the same pressure to adapt to this digital world? According to a recent IDC study, “Thriving in the Digital Economy: How small and midsize enterprises are adapting to digital transformation,” it all depends on geography.

Worlds apart: A region-by-region view of digital transformation and progress

It seems that the entire world is speaking the language of the digital economy. Startups that appear nearly overnight are using digital approaches to disrupt an entire economy and cause the demise of their well-established competitors. The World Economic Forum dedicated much of its 2016 meeting in Davos to weigh the implications of digital progress.

While it may be a forgone conclusion that the digital economy is here to stay, IDC uncovered that small and midsize companies in pockets of the world are still skeptical of the need to adapt to it. Here’s a quick snapshot of how small and midsize businesses in each major region are embracing and participating in the digital economy:

  • North America: North America offers an interesting dichotomy. In some respects, it is one of the most optimistic regions about the performance benefits of advanced technology. However, it is also home to the largest percentage of companies that have “done little to no work in applying technology as part of digital transformation.”
  • Western Europe: Overall, companies in Western Europe are most apprehensive about the benefits of advanced technology and its capabilities that can help small and midsize businesses compete against their larger counterparts. For example, they were less likely to realize the benefits of social networking to engage customers or to use real-time reporting.
  • South Africa: Strong in progress and passion about the advantages of going digital, South African businesses report the highest rate worldwide in using proliferating data and data sources for real-time reporting and to streamline business processes and practices.
  • Latin America: Tying North America in optimism about the benefits of advanced technology, Latin Americans are most likely to agree that “the way business is being done is changing in new and exciting ways as a result of the digital economy.”
  • Asia Pacific: Indicating the most-divergent attitudes towards the digital economy, businesses in Asia Pacific are well underway in their transformation (such as China and India), while others (such as Australia and Singapore) are less hopeful about the technology. As a region, they showed the highest usage of customer relationship software (CRM) and enterprise resource planning software (ERP).

What these findings mean for your small or midsize business

Is your small or midsize business doomed to fail in the digital economy just because of your geographic location? No, not at all. But understanding your region’s attitude and knowledge about digital transformation may give you the competitive edge you’re seeking – if you’re brave enough to break free from them.

Get ready to embrace everything the digital economy has to offer. Check out our blog series “Thriving in the Digital Economy” and the IDC study, co-sponsored by SAP, “Thriving in the Digital Economy: How small and midsize enterprises are adapting to digital transformation.”


Meaghan Sullivan

About Meaghan Sullivan

Meaghan Sullivan is the vice president of Global Channel Marketing at SAP. In this role, she is tasked with accelerating global indirect revenue through channel marketing practices with a focus on VARs and Distributors. Sullivan focuses on Partner-Lead Demand Generation activities to provide SAP partners with innovative programs, campaigns and resources that enable them to more efficiently market their SAP solutions and services.