The degree of digitization in Austrian companies has increased, but the gap between large and small companies is widening. This becomes especially apparent when it comes to home office use.
The Digitization Index, commissioned by Arthur D. Little and marketmind by mobile operator Drei, rose from 35 to 37 points compared to last year. The index rose especially strongly for large companies with more than 100 employees, as well as in the transport, traffic, logistics and trade sectors. According to the index, there was little or no change from the previous year in manufacturing, tourism and retail, where there was little shift to digital presence, online stores, home office and other digital tools.
The gap between large companies on the one hand and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the other is well illustrated by the example of a home office. While the share of all companies surveyed whose employees sometimes work from home fell slightly from 42.3 to 38.1 percent from 2021, the share of large companies using a home office rose by six percentage points to 81 percent.
“Small and medium-sized businesses need to break free from traditional prejudices”
There are certainly cases where there were rational reasons to return to the office after the lockdowns, Drei CEO Rudolf Schrefl said on Thursday at the presentation of the digitization index. He cited micro-enterprises, creative processes and corporate culture as examples. “But especially in medium-sized companies, you have to get rid of traditional prejudices about the home office: I can’t control the employee, he probably doesn’t work from home,” says Schrefl.
The development is different for shared desks (employees share a workplace, where some of the staff work from home) and shared office spaces (several companies share an office space). About 6.4 percent of the companies surveyed already share some of their office space with other companies. Shared desks are used in nine percent of companies. Here too, large companies are clearly ahead of the average: 36 percent use shared desks, 20 percent share office space.
Quarter of companies ‘digitally oriented’
During the presentation, it was positively emphasized that the proportion of companies with an index value of more than 50 and thus considered “digitally oriented” has increased from 19 to 25 percent. In addition, almost a quarter of companies indicate that they want to invest in digitization in the coming year. When asked about the hopes they associate with digitization, cost savings were most often mentioned, followed by the acquisition of new customers. Last year the ratio was reversed.
Digitization is also seen as a challenge by many companies, according to Wednesday’s press conference. So more support is needed. A more powerful internet connection was mentioned as a wish, especially by SMEs. Support is also needed to improve the IT infrastructure and to advise on the implementation of digitization measures.
For the survey, 805 Austrian companies from nine different sectors were surveyed from mid-April to mid-May 2022.