Digitalization of SMEs in Switzerland: A key factor


Companies must adapt their operations and digitalize to remain competitive. Definitions and examples.

SMEs represent 95 per cent of Switzerland’s economy. The digitalization of these enterprises is therefore an important factor that enables the country to remain competitive in the European and international platform. If Switzerland is not rich in resources, it nevertheless is highly proficient in basic technologies such as micro-technology and precision engineering. This advantage allows the country to favorably exploit advances that digitalization has to offer.

Moreover, Switzerland invests a significant share of its financial resources in training. This guarantees greater openness to innovation and therefore creates an entrepreneurial space that is particularly diversified and responsive to changes related to technological advances. Digitalization, combined with technological know-how and training, thus plays an important role in the country’s economic positioning in international competition.


Digitalization, otherwise referred to as 4.0 Industry or Industry 2025, is about adapting a business model to information communication technology advances. The adoption of digitalization thus optimizes the efficiency of the company in terms of its strategy, production and its customers relations.

1. Data

The use of digital data changes the relationship to the flow of information within the company. Exchanges become simpler and faster. Data can be transmitted in real time and are immediately accessible, hence improving the responsiveness of the company.

2. Production

In terms of production, digitalization enables a company to use fully automated systems and machines. This implies a thorough monitoring of production through a mobile application, for instance. If a problem occurs, it can be addressed remotely and quickly. This type of device thus guarantees traceability which allows for fast identification of errors and provides a tool that can better prevent them.

3. Customers

Customers relations also evolve when exposed to digitalization. This technological breakthrough allows a more precise identification of customers’ needs and expectations. The company can therefore shape its services and better target its audience.

Practical examples

  • Elite equipped mattresses it manufactures and rents to hotels with sensors. The Vaudois SME can therefore bill its clients for the mattresses based on their effective use.
  • Swiss Tools shifted to digitization early. The Bernese company equips its tools with digital components. (see interview).
  • Swiss companies like Gebrüder Augsburger Rhonemühle Naters (GARN) can gain efficiency through digitalization (see interview).

Sources: EY study (20 March 2019), survey "SECO Digital Compatibility Test" (2018), dossier "Digitalisation and Swiss SMEs" by Raiffeisen Bank (2017), articles of the Actuel column in the SME portal.


Last modification 31.01.2024

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