Small and medium-sized enterprises need additional support in defining a strategic approach and implementing digital transformation activities
A large event entitled ”Digitalisation for Development” focusing on solutions for strengthening and improving the digital ecosystem of Bosnia and Herzegovina was held in Sarajevo yesterday. It gathered experts, representatives of governments and international organisations.
The event organised by USAID included three panel discussions. In addition to this, the findings of the research entitled DECA (Digital Economy and Society Index) were presented. The research offers an insight in the state of the digital sector in Bosnia and Herzegovina and shows, among other things, efforts invested by GIZ in the strengthening of the digital ecosystem of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first panel focused on the potential of digital technologies for the improvement of different sectors of the society, whereas the second one presented best practices in the digital transformation of the public sector. Donald Prohaska, Deputy Project Manager of the project ”Innovation and Digitalisation in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU4DigitalSME”, participated in the third panel entitled ”Digitalisation as a Driver of Economic Growth” and, together with Feđa Begović from USAID activity ”Tourism”, Jasmin Marić from the association eKom, Belma Agić from the eCommerce Association in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nadina Gradaščević from ABSL, offered a new insight in the role of digitalisation in boosting economic growth, while emphasizing the opportunities of digital technologies for the improvement of the business environment and competitiveness.
Prohaska pointed out that small and medium-sized enterprises on the path of digital transformation face challenges related to either internal or external capacities. He also mentioned a piece of research carried out in the framework of the project with partners from the consultancy firm Luvent that focused on the readiness of small and medium-sized enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a digital transformation:
”Based on a sample including 85 companies, out of which 73 were small and medium-sized enterprises, the research confirmed that those companies that have a strategic approach to this process achieve a higher level of digital transformation, which also supports the claim that companies need additional support in order to define a strategic approach and implement digital transformation activities/projects. When it comes to specific topics in the field of digital transformation, an important research finding points to a low level of integration and use of a CRM system by companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and that small and medium-sized companies that actively use external IT support are more successful than those companies that base their digital transformation on their in-house capacities”.
The project ”Innovation and Digitalisation in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, which also includes the project EU4DigitalSME, aims to create a favourable environment for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to enable them to successfully innovate production processes using digital technologies and offer a wide range of digital solutions through services provided by four digital innovation hubs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the establishment and development of which is supported by the project. Small and medium-sized enterprises thus become more competitive in the domestic and foreign market. Prohaska underlined that some interventions of the project, such as the Invitation for Provision of Grants for Research and Development Projects and the establishment of an Innovation Voucher Scheme for the support of joint projects of the academia and business companies are among the instruments used in technologically advanced countries contributing to the creation of a favourable environment for development and innovation.
He also pointed out that ”the digitalisation of the economy in Bosnia and Herzegovina was a trend caused by market development”. Prohaska stated that a more direct involvement of the academia, improvement of infrastructure and access to finances for small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the provision of relevant human and material resources for their implementation could improve the current state of the sector.
This event focusing on digital transformation in Bosnia and Herzegovina ensured an important forum for a dialogue, exchange of know-how and understanding the latest trends in the digital world. Persons present gained important information and inspiration for further development of the digital society, digital transformation of the public sector and use of digital technologies as a driver of the economic growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The project ”EU4DigitalSME”, which is co-funded by the European Union, and the EBRD project entitled ”Go Digital in Bosnia and Herzegovina” are part of the programme EU4SMEs for the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The value of the project ”EU4DigitalSME” amounts to 6.1 million EUR. Out of this sum, 5 million EUR are funded by the EU, whereas the Federal Republic of Germany provides funds amounting to 1.1 million EUR.