ŠAVŠ/TAČR Digital Czechia in a Digital Europe
Digitalization of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in the Czech Republic Michal Bokša & Stanislav Šaroch Small andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent the core of the European and Czech economies, especially with regard to employment and the percentage of added value. With the advent of new technologies and revolutionary concepts such as Industry 4.0, Smart Factories, Internet of Things, or Cloud computing, the need has arisen for SMEs to ensure their effective digitalization and the ability to adapt to such trends. At present, the Czech Republic is not keeping pace with its European counterparts in the digitalization of SMEs in many respects. According to a study by Microsoft, Czech companies have an almost 20% lower level of adoption of modern technologies. 1 As a result, these underdeveloped systems not only lead to a reduction in their efficiency but also a gradual loss of their competitiveness on European and international markets. In 2017, the share of SME employees in the business sphere in the Czech Republic (CR) was up to 58%, and the share of added value was 54.6%. Therefore, their importance cannot be denied. 2 Inadequate digitalization of SMEs would also have far-reaching consequences and impacts on the competitiveness of large companies as SMEs are often key players in their supply chains. The goal of the government and bodies of the Czech Republic must therefore be to ensure that SMEs have easy access to digitalization processes in the coming years so that these processes are accessible and at the same time that there is general awareness of them among SMEs. So far, the overall process of digitalization in the Czech Republic has been relatively decentralized and noticeably chaotic. After all, these conclusions also emerge from the Innovation Strategy of the Czech Republic 2019–2030. Undoubtedly, the situation described is one of the reasons why the digitalization of Czech SMEs often fails to keep pace. On the other hand, this fact cannot be generalized or presented broadly because the implementation of digitalization processes is necessarily dependent on the types of branches in the given economy. Countries with a less pronounced manufacturing and industrial segment (i.e. a 1 Proč technologie nestačí aneb digitální kultura jako konkurenční výhoda, Microsoft, see https:// news. microsoft.com/cs-cz/features/proc-technologie-nestaci/. 2 Zpráva o vývoji malého a středního podnikání a jeho podpoře v roce 2017, Ministerstvo průmysly a obchodu České republiky, 30/10/2018, see https://www.mpo.cz/assets/cz/podnikani/male-a-stred ni- podnikani/studie-a-strategicke-dokumenty/2018/10/Zprava_MSP_2017.pdf.
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