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After the Covid-19 crisis, the challenge of digitizing VSEs and SMEs

Published last November, the second edition of the Cegid / OpinionWay barometer on the ecosystem of entrepreneurs and their support in the face of the coronavirus crisis confirmed the importance of the entourage of SME and VSE managers to help them overcome the difficulties. The heads of small businesses form the first dam of the resilience of our economy in the face of the crisis: before the first containment they were only 54% to consider themselves well accompanied, against 74% today. If being surrounded is a condition for the safeguarding of companies, the barometer also demonstrates the importance of the quality of the support and the place taken by digital solutions to strengthen the link between all the stakeholders in the (over)life of a company.

Supporting entrepreneurs is at the heart of safeguarding and maintaining the continuity of businesses

While the crisis has brutally rocked the French economy, primarily affecting small businesses such as shops, restaurants and construction companies, which have suddenly had to put theirThe moratorium on bankruptcies, which was in place for the first time in France, was a major factor in the crisis’ impact on the French economy. The moratorium on bankruptcies, the postponement of charges, the sectoral subsidies, the implementation of partial activity and the loans guaranteed by the State embodied the famous “whatever it takes” decided by the President of the Republic on 12 March 2020.

Faced with the emergency, and in order to mobilise these vital measures in times of crisis, entrepreneurs have also been able to benefit from the help of their chartered accountant. Eighty-one percent of them spontaneously named their accountant as their primary advisor, knowing how to take advantage of the new measures to manage the continuity of their business and their cash flow. We can see that the smaller the company, the more this support is a lifesaver, with managers for whom specific support on subjects that are much more complex than usual was a question of survival.

The indispensable and irreversible digitalisation of companies and their support ecosystem

While crises have always accelerated the major trends in economic transformation, the crisis of the 1980s marked the necessary shift – and its acceleration – towards the digitalization of companies. And it is surely in the relationship between entrepreneurs and their ecosystem that the digital shift has taken on its full meaning and has been the most salutary.

Indeed, given the need for permanent exchanges with banks, insurance companies, accountants or service providers, digital solutions have made it possible to maintain a strong and direct link, allowing business leaders to save precious time in the race against time to mobilize the right aid and to have the right advice to maintain their cash flow. At a time when entrepreneurs must devote time to activities that enable them to meet their financial commitments and when they must reAt a time when entrepreneurs must devote time to activities that enable them to meet their financial commitments and when they must reorganize very quickly in anticipation of the upcoming end of emergency measures, digital exchanges remain essential, guaranteeing responsiveness and agility. From an urgent necessity in March, they have now become a common practice that will last.

Giving national impetus to the digital competitiveness of companies

It is therefore more crucial than ever that all stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem equip themselves with the most effective digital tools. The equipment of accounting firms, in particular, is central to the resilience of their clients, and by extension the entire national economic system. They will have to continue to meet the traditional expectations that entrepreneurs have of them, while becoming more effective and efficient. They will also have to reinforce the advisory dimension of their services, by placing themselves at the service of the company director to enlighten him on more strategic subjects, sometimes difficult to decide in a small structure.

98% of managers claim to use software solutions as much or more to exchange with their advisors and 77% wish to continue in this way: it is therefore necessary to encourage them to extend their efforts and to support them. If the public authorities are aware of this, as demonstrated by the implementation of the France Relance plan and the 7 billion euros that accompany it and aim to make up for the country’s lag in terms of digital competitiveness, the role of digital solutions publishers is also central. It is indeed within their R&D departments that solutions adapted to the new needs of companies are born and evolve. Offering useful, intuitive, intelligent, collaborative, mobile and easily adaptable solutions, it is therefore largely on them that the ability to create a national impetus for the digital competitiveness of companies also rests.

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