Analysing Sector Specificity Regarding ICT and Broadband Usage by SMME Businesses

27 February 2016

In the transition of the techno-economic paradigm from a (post) industrial to an information society, it is crucial that ICT and broadband become embedded within the whole of the socio-economic system. However figures show that SMEs and micro-enterprises – the backbone of European economy – are still lagging behind, despite the numerous policy initiatives. In this paper we focus on the specificity of the sector for understanding ICT usage in small business, instead of the common generic SMME approach. In February2006a survey was done with966 Belgian enterprises that answered an online questionnaire. The goal was to better understand how professional activity is linked with ICT usage. The latter was measured by means of four compound indicators (adoption, usage, knowledge and attitude). The three sectors with the lowest degree of ICT usage were identified: construction, retail trade and manufacturing. Within these sectors a thorough study was done by means of interviews with professional organisations and focus group interviews with a carefully selected sample of SMME business owners. This resulted in the identification of sector-specific elements as well as issues that transgress different sectors. These findings are to be integrated in a public initiative by the Federal Ministry of Economy for stimulating ICT usage among Belgian SMMEs