Home > Uncategorized > SMEs collaborate less for innovation: can E20 help?

SMEs collaborate less for innovation: can E20 help?

There are no official statistics of usage of Enteprise 20: actually, the whole dimension of collaboration and knowledge exchange is missing from existing statistics, which instead focus on the old paradigm of e-commerce. See the screenshot from Eurostat below.

However, I came across interesting statistics from the Community Innovation Survey on the propensity of companies to collaborate in innovation (regardless of the ICT tools). The chart below shows that SMEs are fall less keen to collaborate than large companies (source: OECD 2008 Open Innovation in Global Networks).

If collaboration is a key aspect of innovation, SMEs suffer from competitive disadvantage with large companies. So my question is:

– why are SMEs collaborating less in innovation?

– can Enterprise 2.0 software have a meaningful impact on the propensity of SMEs to innovate, and thereby on their competitiveness?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 6, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Permit me to serve as agent provocateur.

    Do SMBs collaborate less than big business? Well, in an SMB, there are fewer people so everyone is busy performing core functionality. There isn’t a lot of extra time left over to collaborate unless it is mission critical.

    On the other hand, SMBs usually have less stringent IP policy hampering their collaborative effort. So, when an SMB sees collaboration as mission critical, then they are more likely to collaborate than a bigger company. They may not call it collaboration because they may feel that collaboration is not mission critical.

    Here is an example. I am in an ISV that uses Code-Roller to collaborate with its clients in the production and development of their custom software. Code-Roller is a collaboration platform specific to SDLC management but would the clients report that they were engaging in collaboration? Probably not. Here’s why.

    The media portrays collaboration as inconsequential and primarily social. People are twittering, chattering, yammering instead of getting the job done.

    Code-Roller is purposeful. Although you can review, rate, blog, invite, chat, it is all in the service of and focused on producing great software. The reviewing, rating, blogging, inviting, and chatting are all means to an end and not the end in an of itself.

  2. Keith
    April 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

    I agree that it is more likely for a large company to have some form of collaboration than SMEs simply because it is bigger, and has more innovative projects and more people. This is what is picked up in the Community Innovation Survey (which also gives higher responses for large companies than SMEs on other questions).

    The European Commission conducted an interesting “Innobarometer” survey of 5000 innovative companies in 2009 which asked more detailed questions about collaboration (see 2009 report at http://www.proinno-europe.eu/page/innobarometer). For example there is a question on whether companies suported their innovative activities with: participation in internet-based discussion forums, free access to test products/services, involving users in in-house developments, and sharing IP. The results show a significant minority of innovative companies (between about 10 and 30% depending on the country) undertaking these kind of activities. Although they are more prevalent in large companies, there are a lot of SMEs – including those with 10-50 employees, who are active.

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