With over 147,000 members and 424,000 students in 170 countries, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, or ACCA as it is more commonly known, has recently published a report titled ‘A digital agenda for European SMEs.’
This a comprehensive report based on an extensive member survey and presents key findings on the European Commission’s digital agenda for Europe and in particular, in four key areas: cloud computing, e-Invoicing, social lending and e-commerce.
The survey respondents replied to a number of questions that ascertained the barriers or impediments to the uptake of cloud computing, e-Invoicing, social lending and e-commerce. The answers were grouped in the following categories:
- Too expensive
- Lack of awareness
- Lack of support from banks
- Lack of access to appropriate specialists
- No need, customers don’t require this
- Lack of government initiatives
- Perceived security risk
- Too complex
- Lack of government action
- Lack of access to fast internet
- Lack of universal platforms
The most notable statistic is that ‘lack of awareness’ is noted as by far the most important barrier to each of the four key areas that the report surveys on.
To quote directly from the report, “The report finds some important gaps in awareness and confidence levels among the SME sector, and calls on the European Commission, member state governments and the IT industry to actively engage with the advisory community if a critical mass of SMEs is going to be reached.”
The findings of the ACCA correlate very closely to Celtrino’s long held views that the lack of awareness needs to be addressed at both a European and governmental level. The European Union, to be fair, has been actively promoting e-Invoicing for some years and there are several projects on the go to help realise a pan-European e-Invoicing landscape.
But nothing raises awareness more than a legal requirement to act in a certain way. To this end, the Fins are leading by example and there is a new requirement for state agencies and institutions to receive only e-Invoices from their suppliers. Considering that close on 50% of the entire European SME base trades with its respective public sectors, the issue of awareness will not be a problem for long in Finland.
This report is a positive addition to the digital business agenda discussion for Europe and adds credence to the Celtrino’s recent white paper ‘Ireland is About to Become a Whole Lot Smarter.’