OECD shares digital transformation “blueprint” for EaP countries

ICT Materials 9 May 2022 10:25 (UTC +04:00)
OECD shares digital transformation “blueprint” for EaP countries
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, May 9. The digitalization of the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) has accelerated on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, Trend reports, citing the “Beyond COVID-19: Advancing Digital Business Transformation in the Eastern Partner Countries” report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many SMEs had to make a rapid transition by opening online trade channels, investing in digital marketing, and reorganize the overall process to minimize operations disruptions, the report said.

Meanwhile, the EU has been a strong supporter of the ICT sector of its partner countries as well. Such programs as EU4Digital Facility, EaP Connect, and many others, have contributed to the digitalization of the SMEs over past few years.

As the pandemic pushed enterprises to digitalize faster, many still lack behind large companies due to several reasons. Thus, the OECD report presents a pattern for a more effective digital transition of the SMEs of EaP countries.

According to the research, one of the most important subjects is organizing a stable financing system for SMEs. Policy makers should provide financial support for digitalization through a range of instruments such as grants, vouchers, loans, and indirect financial incentives.

“To help SMEs navigate the complexity of the digitalization process, while bearing in mind industry-specific needs, policy makers should develop and provide sector-specific digital plans listing recommendations for suitable digital solutions, fundamental business capabilities needed, and available digital training,” the report said.

The SMEs also have to assess own digitalization maturity themselves via self-diagnostic tools, the OECD noted.

To help SMEs understand and realize their digital capacity building needs, EaP countries can create a reliable network of certified consultants, as well as ensure the availability of individual training opportunities, the report added.

“Finally, policy makers should nurture and co-ordinate the ecosystem for digital transformation, composed by all agents and stakeholders supporting SME development (e.g. incubators, high-tech parks, digital innovation hubs, universities) to maximize the impact of the existing structures,” the report concluded.


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