Improving SMEs’ Digital Skills Together with Business Advisors
Digital competences

Improving SMEs’ Digital Skills Together with Business Advisors

A joint project between TIEKE and business advisory organisations, the Digital Business Advisory project, is developing both the digital skills of SMEs and the capacity of business advisors to advise companies on their digital development journey. The project will produce a nationwide advisory model that will significantly improve the access of businesses to digital advice tailored to their needs.

Digitalisation is constantly affecting more and more businesses, revolutionising their industries and operating environments. Digital solutions, data, and AI can make companies more effective, offer new business opportunities and help meet the goal of carbon neutral Finland. However, especially in small businesses, resource constraints slow down the uptake of new technologies, and companies need support to adopt modern technologies. Both start-ups and growing businesses often use the services of business advisory organisations, and it would be natural for businesses to receive support from these advisory organisations to improve their digital capabilities. However, business advisory organisations do not at the moment have enough skills or tools to help their customers with digital business models, AI or digital transition.

The recently launched Digital Business Advisory project will bring solutions to the problem by developing both the capacity of business advisors to provide digital advice and the digital skills of SMEs.

“In this project, we are working in partnership with TIEKE and several business advisory organisations: Business Turku Oy, the City of Lappeenranta, the Oulu Region Enterprice Agency and Prizztech Oy. Together, we can reach businesses of different sizes and at different stages of development  and help them to digitalise their operations. We will be able to gather best practices and lessons learned that can be used in future to provide digital advice nationwide,” says Jari Salo, project manager at TIEKE.

Improving Business Advisors’ Digital Skills

Business advisors need more skills in digitalisation and digital business models to support companies in using digital tools and building digital business processes. They need to be able to advise businesses on how to make use of new technologies, regardless of their situation – whether they need help at the business planning, growth, development, or generation change stages.

In the Digital Business Advisory project, we bring together available tools and methods to support digitalisation and technology use in businesses, such as maturity tools, canvas, skills assessments and peer reviews. We will also gather a network of business advisors, whose members will be trained in the use of the tools and methods in the toolkit. The network will allow advisors to transfer knowledge and skills to each other both during and after the project.

Based on the network’s experience, the project will produce a Digital Advisor Toolkit that takes into account the support needed by businesses at different stages. The Digital Advisor Toolkit will be an important addition to the toolbox of business advisors.

Ensuring the Suitability of the Toolkit

During the project, the Digital Advisor Toolkit will be piloted with 150 companies in the Turku region, Oulu region, Lappeenranta and Satakunta. The pilot will both help a large number of companies to move forward on their digital path and ensure that the advisory model is suitable for their needs. Nationally, these areas are home to businesses from different sectors and operating in different environments, so the pilot will ensure that the advice is suitable for different sectors and adapts to their specific needs.

Participants in the project will receive information about their own digital skills and support to use new digital solutions. The aim is that the opportunities offered by digitalisation, data and artificial intelligence will be seen in a more positive light in companies and that the motivation to use them will increase.

An Open Guide to Digital, Data, and AI Advice

Based on the development work of the project, we are compiling a guide to digital, data and AI advice. The guide and the toolkit will be available to all Finnish business advisory organisations and companies developing their digital capability also after the project. The materials will be kept on the TIEKE website, and thanks to the cc-licence, it will be possible to further develop the materials after the project.

Read next