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Home Technology German SMEs are lagging behind in terms of digitization

German SMEs are lagging behind in terms of digitization

The corona pandemic has sparked the turbo in digitization in companies. Compared to other European countries, relatively few new technologies such as collaboration solutions and the like are used in German SMEs.

Compared to other European countries, German SMEs use relatively few collaboration solutions.


The corona crisis has accelerated the digitization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe – with clear differences between the individual countries. The British are proving to be digitalization champions. Has the corona pandemic facilitated this process? A YouGov study commissioned by the hosting provider IONOS shows that companies in Great Britain were already significantly more digitalized than SMEs in Germany, Spain or France before the pandemic. In Spain and France in particular, however, the crisis has proven to be a “digitization accelerator”. Small businesses in Germany have become a bit more digitized, but are mostly at the bottom of the international comparison. The main results of the study:


Before Corona, SMEs in Great Britain had a stronger online presence than their European neighbors: According to the survey, 61 percent already had a company website. In the other European countries examined, this value was significantly lower – between 40 percent and 50 percent. Small businesses in Spain and France in particular worked on their online presence during the pandemic and were able to gain more than 20 percentage points each (from 44 percent to 65 percent in Spain, from 39 percent to 61 percent in France). In Germany this rate climbed from 48 percent to 63 percent. Great Britain is still at the top with a total of 68 percent, but the other countries have all caught up.

Online shops and social media

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One fifth (21 percent) of the Spanish companies surveyed started an online shop during the crisis. With a total of almost 40 percent of the companies with Internet shops, the Spanish market is ahead of the rest of Europe. For comparison: in Great Britain only 22 percent of the respondents run an online shop – this is the only category in which British companies come last. The Spanish companies, together with those from France, also recorded the strongest growth in the social media category: 27 percent each started social media accounts for their companies during the pandemic. In Spain a total of 65 percent now use these channels, in France and Great Britain 59 percent each of the companies surveyed. Germany lags significantly behind with an adoption rate of 46 percent.

Collaboration solutions and newsletters

When it comes to the use of tools for digital collaboration as well as the use of mailings and newsletters, German small businesses bring up the rear in a European comparison: just under half (49 percent) now use collaboration solutions, while Great Britain leads this area with 71 percent, clearly ahead of Spain ( 61 percent) and France (59 percent). In terms of mailings / newsletter usage, Spain (76 percent) is also ahead, ahead of France (62 percent) and Great Britain (61 percent). In Germany, the adoption rate is 54 percent.

Around a quarter of the small businesses surveyed take on the implementation of their digitization activities themselves. Almost a quarter of those surveyed in Germany, France and Spain also seek help from service providers such as agencies or web designers, and a good quarter of companies in Great Britain prefer in-house experts / Departments.

A total of around 3,500 people from companies with up to 250 employees in Germany, Great Britain, Spain and France were interviewed for the study.



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