ŠAVŠ/TAČR Digital Czechia in a Digital Europe


It can also be expected that the next economic recession will be a key turning point for the Czech Republic in terms of digitalization. The Czech economy, and especially SMEs, should emerge from this recession much more digitalized in comparison to when it enters. The inability of the Czech Republic to build an effective network that would enable such a transformation in times of economic contraction and significantly support it could become a key problem for the domestic economy and the competitiveness of our companies in the ensuing boom. Despite the fact that the current German infrastructure to support the digitalization of SMEs is highly developed and complex, many local organizations view the current pace of transformation or digitalization of German SMEs to be relatively slow. The reasons for such conclusions are in some respects similar to those in the Czech Republic. The German economy and German SMEs are still thriving, and the pressure for higher efficiency or optimization of production, which a successful digitalization would undoubtedly bring to the company, is thus minimized. It is an exaggeration to say that SMEs, which have so far almost completely avoided digitalization, are still able to find sales for their products or services relatively easily in the current economic situation. Another aspect is the fact that Germany, like the Czech Republic, has to digitalize sectors where digitalization has traditionally been relatively slow (typically the industrial processing sector). Nevertheless, the last factor – which to a large extent also answers the question of why the expected positive effects of digitalization have not yet manifested themselves significantly – is a very limited understanding of the concept of digitalization. In the vast majority of professional texts or solution proposals, digitalization is described and often perceived exclusively as a process of increasing efficiency, reducing costs or modernizing the interface for communication with the target customer. As a result, the potential of digitalization is neglected, for example, for the creation of new business models or services that could not exist in practice until then 18 . At the same time, it is above all these changes that have the greatest potential to become revolutionary breakthroughs. Data based on a survey of the German SME digitalization market confirm these findings. Between 2014 and 2016, the sample of companies surveyed shows that the most common digitalization project (54% of companies) was the 18 Daheim Cornelia, Korn Jonas andWintermann Ole, The German Mittelstand and Digital Transformation Why change can only succeed with a new Culture of Work, Bertelsmann Stiftung, 11/2017, see https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/2018_ Mittelstand_digital_transformation.pdf. NOT ALL DIGITALIZATION IS DIGITALIZATION

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