Dutch SMEs are looking forward to the future, while digital delays are threatening

Schiphol, 17 July 2017 - Dutch SMEs see their future sunny in comparison with their European colleagues. Eight out of ten Dutch entrepreneurs (79 percent) are positive about the growth expectations of their company, compared to a European average of 59 percent. However, Dutch SMEs are less reliant on technology

Schiphol, 17 July 2017 - Dutch SMEs see their future sunny in comparison with their European colleagues. Eight out of ten Dutch entrepreneurs (79 percent) are positive about the growth expectations of their company, compared to a European average of 59 percent. However, Dutch SMEs are less reliant on technology. This is shown by research by Microsoft and research bureau Ipsos MORI among 12, 804 European SMEs, including a thousand in the Netherlands.

The research of Microsoft and Ipsos MORI focused on the question why entrepreneurs decided to start their own company. A better balance between work and private life is mentioned most often in the Netherlands (28 percent) and in Europe (31 percent). The same balance is also most often mentioned as the most positive aspect of working in an SME (24 percent in the Netherlands, 30 percent in Europe).

It is striking, however, that in the Netherlands only half of the SME entrepreneurs (52 percent) believe that technology helps to save time, compared to a European average of 78 percent. These percentages are extra salient, looking at the number of respondents who call the stress factor as the negative side of working within an SME (22 percent in the Netherlands, 34 percent in Europe).

Engine of the Dutch economy

The survey also shows that Dutch SMEs are less likely than their European colleagues to believe that technology offers them more flexibility. Here only half of the SMEs are behind that statement, compared to 72 percent in the rest of Europe. Incidentally, in the Netherlands, 28 percent think that his company should spend more on technology, but this is also less than in the rest of Europe, where the average is 37 percent.

"We all do a lot of digital, but are only at the beginning of the possibilities", says Leendert-Jan Visser, director of MKB-Nederland. "The next digitization wave will change our life and the way we do business even more drastically and quickly. There are many SME entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of smart use of software and data, but the total SMEs will have to go along with it. Individual entrepreneurs are inhibited by the lack of a framework and standards to cooperate digitally, for example, or by a multitude and complexity of options. "

MKB-Nederland, together with VNO-NCW and LTO Nederland, published the Next Level agenda earlier this year, in which the business organizations make proposals on how the Netherlands and the Dutch economy can make the most of the opportunities for further digitization. Visser: "Entrepreneurs have to invest further in the digital transition, but also the government, for example in a single digital government. Together we have to make the next jump. Because even though the Dutch starting position is excellent, according to experts, we only realize fifteen percent of the digital potential. "

In our country, SMEs appear to look differently to the concept of digitization than in the rest of Europe. Although the percentage of Dutch SMEs that mainly thinks of digitizing paperwork, is the same as the European average of 39 percent, only 41 percent lay the link with automation. The European average here is fifty percent. The share that digitization associates with flexible working or working on mobile devices is also lower here than elsewhere in Europe, with nineteen percent versus 24 percent, and eleven percent versus seventeen percent, respectively.

Leendert-Jan Visser: "Thanks to technology, business processes can be better organized, entrepreneurs can serve their customers tailor-made and all over the world and we can let cars run for themselves. Continuing digitization offers opportunities, but at the same time there are also concerns when it comes to privacy, cyber security and possible job loss as a result of robotisation. "The government and business community must also work closely together on these issues."

Quality products and good service

Asked about where SMEs in the market want to be known, 46 percent of Dutch entrepreneurs mention the quality of their products. 63 percent mainly wants his business to be associated with good service. This means that Dutch entrepreneurs do not differ much from their European colleagues, where quality products are mentioned by 42 percent and good service by 64 percent.

The Netherlands is not a forerunner at all

"In general it is assumed that the Netherlands is at the forefront when it comes to the use of technology, " says Myriam Nijhout-Van Gemert, director of MKB at Microsoft Netherlands. "However, this research shows that there is still a lot of work to be done. SMEs say they value a balance between work and private life, and technology can contribute to that. By giving them more freedom to organize their time themselves, and to work where and when it suits them best, for example. Watchmaker and our client TW Steel, thanks to the use of technology, for example, grew from a local artisanal player into an international organization. In the coming years, we will continue to cooperate with MKB Nederland and grow and think along in order to support SMEs - the real engine of the Dutch economy - in its digital transformation. "