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Italiaonline survey, the digitalization of Italian enterprises grows, driven by investment: +22% vs. 2020

The research looked at the world of nano, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises up to 50 million euros and 250 employees, and has a reference universe in 2021 consisting of 6.5 million companies of which about 5.6 million are registered in the Directory of Economic and Administrative News (REA) at the Office of the Business Registry. Of these, about 3 million are sole proprietorships. In 2021, the difference between terminated and newly established companies shows a positive balance of about 103 thousand companies (+2% compared to 2020).

The market for “Digital Presence and Communication” appears to be growing steadily in the three-year period 2019-2021, and in 2021 recorded a value of 2.73 billion euros (+22% vs. 2020) as a result of the growing awareness regarding the importance of using digital for both domestic and international business.

In 2021, in particular, both the number of companies investing in digital increased to 1.2 million units (+7.5% vs 2020) and the average investment per company to 2.3 thousand euros (+13% vs 2020).

The survey on the digitization of SMEs in Italy shows, that the market of “Digital Presence and Communication” has been growing steadily and continuously, +26%, in the three-year period 2019-2021 while, the market of traditional media (e.g., Fairs, TV, Out of Home, Print, Radio, etc.), despite a significant growth in 2021 of 20.4% vs. 2020, is still significantly lower than the pre-pandemic values of 2019, as a consequence of fewer companies communicating on traditional media and lower average investment per company.

The analysis conducted by Italiaonline – about 10,000 companies representative of the reference universe by type, product segment and geographic area – showed that, more than 73% of the companies in the sample said they owned a website, about 12% owned an e-commerce and/or were present on a marketplace also to seize opportunities in foreign markets, and about 200,000 companies carried out online communication and advertising campaigns on search engines.

Significant data also for the world of social networks. 49.9 percent of companies in the sample use social pages, preferring Facebook (94.6 percent) and Instagram (44.8 percent). However, the use, including commercial use, of communities is more exploited by medium/large companies that rely on social interactions for 55.2% and 59.9%, respectively.

On the investment front, the research confirmed the development of all major market areas of “Online Presence and Communication.” In fact, if the website has attracted investments of about one billion euros (registering a +17% compared to the previous year), e-commerce and marketplaces are around 400 million (+21%), while the social universe is worth more than 360 million euros and registers a growth rate of 7%.

Businesses’ growing focus on creating multimedia content, such as photos and videos, also continues, confirmed by a double-digit increase in investment. A fast-growing trend is also influencer marketing, initially considered the preserve of medium to large companies, and now increasingly used by small businesses as well (+50% in terms of investment compared to 2020).

“Our research underlines how the digital market is continuously growing and the 2021 data confirm this trend,” – comments Roberto Giacchi, CEO of Italiaonline. “The so-called Traditional market has also increased compared to 2020 but has not yet returned to the pre-pandemic 2019 levels. This is as a consequence of the fact that, not only large investors are reducing investments in traditional media in favor of digital ones, but also small and medium-sized companies increasingly see digital as the preferred channel of communication.”

The survey highlights another important aspect. Nano enterprises, i.e., those with 1 or 2 employees, are a driver for digital development because, more than others, they have realized how effective technology is and can provide business answers already in the short term even without large investments and with few resources.

“We support entrepreneurs not only in the technical aspect but also in the commercial and administrative areas,” Giacchi continues, “We have the responsibility of accompanying them in the development of their business ideas as well as guiding them on a now irreversible path of digital development. A progress that has seen, in 2021, total investments in digital Presence and Communication solutions and services for about 2.736 billion euros, +22% compared to the previous year. In this sense, Italiaonline espouses and supports the guidelines of the European Union, which has recently agreed on the digitalization strategy that will guide Europe between now and 2030.”

But there is still much to be done, and with this purpose operates the Italiaonline Academy, a free training platform that, born in 2019, has seen the number of users grow from just over 500 to over 15 thousand, 40% of whom are women. Another project in line with the objectives of the European strategy, which, through skills development, aims to increase the share of SMEs with a basic digital level to 90 percent.

(NB This is a translation of the Italian press release)