Mechanics, restaurateurs and retailers – and all sectors from this year on – are being informed by SPRI (the Society for Competitive Transformation) about their new technology needs. Of the 417 micro-companies (242 in Bizkaia province, 117 in Gipuzkoa and 58 in Araba), 58% belong to the trading sector, 20% to a series of areas including legal consultancy and services, personal care and medical services, 16% are catering sector firms and the remaining 6% are vehicle repair shops.
Over the last ten months, the Basque Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation, Trade and Tourism, through SPRI (the Society for Competitive Transformation) has implemented 1,555 IT and new technology solutions at 417 companies as part of the new information technology (ICT) start-up scheme at micro-companies of all types, concentrating particularly on three specific sectors – Retailing, Motor Vehicle Maintenance and Repair and Bars and Restaurants – with a view to improving their competitiveness. Basque mechanics, restaurateurs and retailers working at almost 13,000 enterprises with less than 10 employees or who are self-employed are thus receiving personalised diagnosis of their IT requirements. Three months ago the scheme was opened up to firms from sectors of all types.
The 1,555 solutions implemented consist of positioning the firms on the Internet, websites, virtual Google Maps positioning and efficient company management. Of the 417 micro-companies (242 in Bizkaia province, 117 in Gipuzkoa and 58 in Araba), 58% belong to the trading sector, 20% to a series of areas including legal consultancy and services, personal care and medical services, 16% are catering sector firms and the remaining 6% are vehicle repair shops.
At the same time, an “ICT solutions catalogue” is being updated as a reference for the micro-companies, including issues such as virtual positioning, promotion in web 2.0. resources, efficient business management, cloud resource availability or use of web 2.0. resources.
Some time has elapsed after these services began to be provided, and a survey has now been made of ICT implementation in approximately 50% of the businesses that have taken part in the scheme. 90% consider their participation in the initiative to have been highly satisfactory, achieving direct profit as a result of including ICTs in their businesses. 45% of the companies said they had improved sales by implementing the ICTs, due to the availability of new, more advanced solutions. As a result of the scheme, some of the businesses that took part in the first phase of the project are now applying to continue, implementing more advanced or sophisticated resources.
ICTs, saving time and money
The Basque Government asks the firms who wish to take part in the project to register at the website www.euskadinnova.net, offering them three ICT-based advantages:
- Time and money savings, as online paperwork systems mean they no longer need to travel to deal with administrative formalities
- Use of the social networks and/or creation of their own website to publicise their business, and
- More effective business management through automatic inventory updating
The initiative forms part of the pilot project “Analysis of Micro-sectors and Identification and Implementation of Leverage Applications for Micro-enterprises in the Basque Country”. The three micro-sectors were selected after conducting an analysis of the micro-enterprise fabric in the Basque Country and pre-selecting 16 sub-sectors, on the basis of two criteria: high representativeness within the Basque Country’s micro-enterprise fabric, and lower-than-average use of ICTs.
Data on the Situation of the three sectors
The number of these retail trade micro-enterprises (7,661) represents 98.8% of the total existing in the Basque Country. 3 out of 4 businesses have a computer. These are mostly desktop units, although there are an increasing number of multi-function units, laptops and computer servers. E-mail is the associated service that is the most used, closely followed by cellphone mail and Extranet. Its ICT indicators are lower than those of other sectors, although its implementation of basic technology infrastructure is beginning to equal that of the rest.
With 3,345 micro-enterprises, the restaurant sector represents 27% of the total number of catering companies in the Basque Country, and drinks sector micro-enterprises form 68% of the total of Basque catering micro-companies. 12% of the restaurants have a computer and 9% use e-mail and Internet.
The number of micro-enterprises in the vehicle maintenance and repair sector (2,007) represents 96% of the total of this type of companies in the Basque Country. Their information technology equipment is as follows: Computer 73.9%, Internet 66.5% and E-mail 64.7%.