Digital transformation is a core development strategy for 8 out of 10 Greek enterprises with Research & Development activities. Strengthening the digital skills of staff is a priority for most enterprises, while the areas where the focus is on digital technology are related to the continuous improvement and development of new products, the strengthening of the supply chain and the implementation of ERP and CRM systems. At the same time, pioneering digital technologies, such as cybersecurity and cloud computing are becoming increasingly important for enterprises.
These are some of the key findings of the new statistical survey that was implemented at the end of 2020 by the National Documentation Centre (EKT). They have been published in the publication 'The Digital Transformation of Greek enterprises, 2020: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic', the second in the new series of EKT statistical publications on the Digital Transformation of enterprises. The survey was conducted in the context of the annual statistical survey on Research & Development (R&D) in Greek enterprises, conducted by EKT as the competent National Authority of the Hellenic Statistical System.
2020, a year marked by the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary increase in the use of digital technologies, was a catalytic year for the rapid Digital Transformation of Greek enterprises implementing R&D activities, making it a required condition for developing and maintaining their competitiveness. The majority of enterprises have adopted developmental strategies to meet the new challenges.
Evi Sachini, EKT Director, noted, 'EKT's new statistical survey examines the path towards the Digital Transformation of Greek companies in 2020. In this process, EKT, as the National Authority of the Hellenic Statistical System, will continue to capture the critical parameters of the Digital Transformation and support public policies with data'.
Based on the results of the survey, the majority of companies throughout the whole country (82%) state that they focus on digital transformation, evaluating it as a very important or important continuous development strategy. Enhancing the digital skills of staff is a priority for most businesses (a very important strategy for 43% and an important strategy for 41%).
The focus on digital technologies concerns all areas of business operation, namely the continuous improvement and development of goods or services (41% of enterprises), the reorganisation of business processes (ERP systems) (32%), the strengthening of the supply chain (27%) and the implementation of CRM systems (26%). At the same time, pioneering digital technologies, such as technologies in the fields of cybersecurity (37%) and cloud computing (36%), are rated as the most important for business development.
40% of all enterprises consider the use of websites to be a very important practice for their expansion into new markets and 34% of enterprises consider customer interaction through live chats and social media to be very important. 27% of enterprises consider it very important to implement strategy that strengthens digital communication channels (social media, apps, etc.) in order to continuously improve their communication with customers.
Strategies followed by companies during the pandemic
The results of the research show that the pandemic has to a greater or lesser extent affected the overall business activity for 90% of the enterprises that implement R&D activities in the country. To deal with the crisis caused by the pandemic, the majority of enterprises have mainly adopted strategies with a growth character and footprint. As main strategies, almost 9 out of 10 enterprises adopted teleworking methods for the employment of their staff, 6 out of 10 enterprises focused on their digital transformation and almost 3 out of 10 enterprises changed their business model to produce goods or services adapted to the new conditions
The main problems faced by the majority of enterprises were the forced absences of staff due to childcare or because they belong to vulnerable groups, delays in receipts from customers and increased administrative obligations.
Enterprises estimate that many of the new digital processes they used for their smooth operation will remain after the pandemic, with the main ones being the adoption (or enhancement) of digital media (84%), the adoption of teleworking (60%) and the automation of decision-making processes (44%).
The series of business support measures implemented at national and European level received a particularly positive response. Almost all enterprises surveyed (91%) said they had successful access to information on pandemic-related business support programmes, and mentioned tax and insurance relief and credit facilities as the most useful measures.
The maturation of the Digital Transformation of enterprises
The study also examined the degree of acceleration of the digital transformation of enterprises in 2020, presenting comparative data for the enterprises that participated in both EKT's current statistical survey with reference year 2020, and the first survey of the series 'The Digital Transformation of Greek enterprises, 2016-2018'. What is remarkable is the very high percent of the use of digital channels to enhance communication and exchange of ideas between the enterprise's staff during the pandemic period (48%), compared to the three years 2016-2018 (38%). The percentage of enterprises (33%) that in 2020 consider the interaction with customers through digital communication channels a very important practice for market access is also very high, with the corresponding percentage during the three years 2016-2018 being 20% .
The population of the new research on Digital Transformation of enterprises was taken from EKT registers and included enterprises that have high innovative characteristics and R&D activity in Greece. The survey was conducted with electronic questionnaires, which were completed by 631 enterprises. 60% of the enterprises that participated in the survey are in Attica and a large percentage (20%) in Northern Greece. The largest percentage of them (77%) are small and medium enterprises with less than 250 employees.
The publication of the new EKT survey is available (in Greek) at https://metrics.ekt.gr/publications/456.