Several times we have stressed the importance of SMEs in the Italian economic fabric. The Regional SME Report 2020 underlines that there are about 156000 companies that fall into this category according to the requirements defined in Recommendation 1442 of 6 May 2003 of the European Commission. They constitute the backbone of our economy, with a prevalent diffusion in the North, but with an important presence also in the Centre (32000 companies) and in the South (31000). In terms of employment in SMEs, Italy surpasses the other European countries, as 78.7% of the employees in the companies work there, against a European average of 69.4%.
The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on SME
The above mentioned report underlines how the economic recovery (or, better, “re-preserve”) phase following the 2008 crisis was already running out of steam before the very serious blow inflicted on the Italian economic fabric, as well as on the whole world, by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to Cerved’s model, based on an analysis of foreseeable sales in over 1500 economic sectors, Italian SMEs will see a 12.8% drop in turnover in 2020 with a rebound in 2021. However, the contraction will rise to 18.1 in the presence of other lockdowns, which unfortunately we are witnessing at the moment. Some sectors will suffer a worse meltdown: an important area of our economy, what we can qualify as a “culture system”, from theaters, museums, to tourism in general, is receiving a blow to the heart. In 2017, this sector accounted for 6% of GDP and 1.5 million jobs. According to the report presented by the Symbola and Unioncamere Foundation, in that year the sector had generated 92 billion euros, which reached 255 billion euros with the revenues of the narrowest induced industries.
What is the current situation?
Monitor Deloitte, in collaboration with other entities including Intesa Sanpaolo and Piccola Industria -Confindustria, has recently published the results of the survey “The needs of post-Covid SMEs”, which has covered over 6,000 Italian SMEs. From the report it emerges that the 90% of the companies participants to the inquiry has suffered a slowdown or a suspension of the activity and the 70% has had to face financial problems. They tried to respond to the emergency in different ways, from conversion to strategic products such as personal protective equipment, to rethinking their production offer, to international expansion, to asset interventions. It is clear that the impact of the crisis triggered by the pandemic will have a serious and lasting effect even after the storm has passed. The public interventions to support the Italian economy should seek, more than a simple financial support in the immediate future, the introduction of structural reforms, capable of helping SME, especially those smaller and less technologically developed, to overcome their critical issues.
Digitization: an essential goal for SME
Among them there is certainly digitization. At the end of 2019 the IT market in Italy saw an increase of 3.8% compared to the previous year (Assintel Report 2020), with a push towards digitization driven by Medium and Large Enterprises. And the others?
The growing spread of smart working caused by the pandemic naturally also affects SMEs. Therefore, the digitization process becomes inevitable even for those smaller and unstructured companies, where the management is still entrusted to paper or at most to tools such as the excel sheet.
On the other hand, through digitization it is possible to free resources to devote to more crucial activities for the company, especially in these difficult times. In a framework in which everyone has to contribute to the core business of the company, it is not efficient to have even a dedicated staff unit dedicated to hand-picking attendance and transcribing vacation and leave data on a random sheet. In this sense a management software for SMEs in the cloud is the ideal solution.
The flexibility: the added value in a managerial one for small enterprises
Sometimes, however, a management software can be rigid and require computer skills that are not available in many companies. As a result, there is a suspicion among potential users that the remedy may appear worse than the evil. For this reason the flexibility in a managerial one for PMI becomes the key to allow a digitization by now indispensable. Certainly this flexibility must not be separated from the requirements of security and completeness, which must be combined with professional and competent support to help overcome the difficulties, especially in the early stages of use.
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