Digitalisation in SMEs & municipalities© Photo Credit: 1xpert -

Digitalisation in SMEs & municipalities

Advancing digital technologies and applications in SMEs

Cloud and SMEs

Cloud computing provides an opportunity for small and medium-sized enterprises to drive digitalisation with fewer on-board resources. The obstacles that many SMEs face on the road to greater digitisation include a lack of skilled workers and limited human resources, insufficient IT skills and limited budgets. The cloud provides SMEs with scalable solutions that help them overcome precisely these obstacles.

In our research and studies, we address, among other things, future market developments and network infrastructure requirements, cloud diffusion in SMEs, AI applications and the cloud ecosystem, interoperability, and digital sovereignty.

AI in SMEs and communities

There are many ways in which SMEs and municipalities can benefit from Artificial Intelligence (AI), e.g. by automating simple tasks to analyse data and make predictions, using chatbots for communication or using image recognition to maintain machines or municipal infrastructure.

In the process, we have built up in-depth knowledge on various AI-related issues. As part of Mittelstand-Digital, we are implementing part of the German government's AI strategy and operate a nationwide network of AI trainers. We have also published a range of papers on the state of AI in SMEs, AI-as-a-Service and AI in the telecommunications industry.

Smart Cities

The terms smart city and smart region refer to the application of digital technologies and the digital networking of various actors in cities, municipalities and districts. Many municipalities are developing digitalisation strategies for this purpose, with concrete projects being implemented by municipal administrations and companies, but also by local businesses, start-ups, associations and clubs. The digital transformation in the 11,000 municipalities in Germany offers great potential for more efficient administration, communication between administrations, businesses and citizens, as well as for better public services and infrastructure.

With the Stadt.Land.Digital office, we promoted digital transformation in German municipalities from July 2020 to June 2023 on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economics Affairs. Through workshops, conferences and case studies, we supported the transfer of knowledge among municipal authorities and companies.

In various research projects, WIK has investigated the role of open data for public authorities, the market for municipal IT services and the role of start-ups, and the effects of concrete digital projects in the municipal economy.

SMEs in the platform economy

With the help of digital platforms, SMEs can better serve their existing customers, reach new target groups and optimally network with their suppliers and customers. Digital platforms that are relevant for SMEs include communication, social media, marketing and eCommerce platforms, as well as platforms for data exchange and evaluation such as Gaia-X). However, the platform economy not only offers opportunities, but also poses risks through competitive challenges linked to two-sided markets, concentration tendencies and problems in the area of sovereignty and interoperability.

In our studies and research activities, we shed light on the challenges of digital platforms for SMEs and the economic impact of the platform economy.