Digital Economies: SMEs and E-Readiness

Digital Economies: SMEs and E-Readiness

Stephen M. Mutula (University of Botswana, Botswana)
Release Date: July, 2009|Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 356
ISBN13: 9781605664200|ISBN10: 1605664200|EISBN13: 9781605664217|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-420-0
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Several studies have been made to determine the effectiveness of information and communication technologies within small business enterprises, but the focus on e-readiness assessments have been very limited.

Digital Economies: SMEs and E-Readiness provides valuable insights into the current state of the digital economy and the ability of SMEs to leverage information and communication technologies in overcoming their position in the global business market. This innovative collection provides vital information for developing strategic objectives and frameworks that promote economic growth, infrastructure development, capacity building, and educational training.

Topics Covered

  • Capacity Building
  • Digital Divide
  • Digital economy components
  • Digital economy growth
  • E-Business
  • E-Commerce
  • E-government readiness
  • Knowledge Management
  • Records Management
  • SMEs industry
  • Trends and best practices

Reviews and Testimonials

Digital Economies: SMEs and E-Readiness provides vital information to governments and development agencies on broad-based issues relating to SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness that can assist them in developing strategic objectives and legal and regulatory frameworks that promote economic growth, infrastructure development, capacity building, and education and training; create awareness of SMEs and the digital economy; and enable access for SMEs to best practices and benchmarking, among other factors.

– Stephen M. Mutula, University of Botswana, Botswana

Table of Contents and List of Contributors

Search this Book:
Table of Contents
Olukunle Iyanda
Stephen M. Mutula
Chapter 1
Introduction  (pages 1-13)
Stephen M. Mutula
The ‘Digital economy’ is sometimes used synonymously with ‘information society’, which emerged back in the 1960s to describe a futuristic society... Sample PDF
Chapter 2
Stephen M. Mutula
As pointed out in the previous chapter, the concepts ‘digital economy’, ‘information economy’, ‘information society’ and ‘knowledge society/economy’... Sample PDF
Growth of the Digital Economy
Chapter 3
Stephen M. Mutula
The digital economy consists of various components, key among which include government; policy and regulation; internet, the world wide web (WWW)... Sample PDF
Digital Economy Components
Chapter 4
SMEs Industry  (pages 39-53)
Stephen M. Mutula
There is a growing impetus internationally for the development of strong SME sectors as engines of economic growth and development. This impetus is... Sample PDF
SMEs Industry
Chapter 5
Stephen M. Mutula
There is a growing interest in how the digital divide affects the operations of SMEs. The digital divide among businesses is defined as the... Sample PDF
Digital Divide and SMEs
Chapter 6
Stephen M. Mutula
The level of e-readiness of the digital economy is expected to vary across different jurisdictions. The e-readiness ranking of nations, which has... Sample PDF
E-Readiness and Its Assessment
Chapter 7
Stephen M. Mutula
E-readiness assessments are largely investigated at country-level across a number of sectors, and tend to adopt quantitative approaches that assign... Sample PDF
E-Readiness Assessment Methods and Tools
Chapter 8
E-Readiness of SMEs  (pages 111-128)
Stephen M. Mutula
Increasingly, SMEs are achieving and sustaining competitive advantages using ICT that are propelling and accelerating the globalization of... Sample PDF
E-Readiness of SMEs
Chapter 9
E-Government Readiness  (pages 130-147)
Stephen M. Mutula
The United Nations (2008) believes that in a world characterised by rapid changes driven by globalization and the emerging knowledge-based economy... Sample PDF
E-Government Readiness
Chapter 10
E-Business and E-Commerce  (pages 148-173)
Stephen M. Mutula
E-business and e-commerce are applications around which the digital economy revolves. The concept ‘e-business’ was originated by IBM in 1997 to... Sample PDF
E-Business and E-Commerce
Chapter 11
Local Content and SMEs  (pages 176-190)
Stephen M. Mutula
There are diverse opinions in literature on the meaning of the term ‘content’ going by the different definitions encountered in the course of... Sample PDF
Local Content and SMEs
Chapter 12
Knowledge Management (KM)  (pages 191-210)
Stephen M. Mutula
There are a growing number of studies on knowledge management (KM) in SMEs for various reasons. One has been the growing realisation that SMEs are... Sample PDF
Knowledge Management (KM)
Chapter 13
Stephen M. Mutula
While records management in general and e-records management in particular have received serious attention in large enterprises, the same cannot be... Sample PDF
E-Records Management and Freedom of Information for SMEs
Chapter 14
Stephen M. Mutula
To ensure survival in today’s competitive business world, small-sized enterprises require access to accurate and relevant information both at the... Sample PDF
Information Needs and Access in SMEs
Chapter 15
Capacity Building in SMEs  (pages 248-264)
Stephen M. Mutula
The preceding chapter demonstrated that one of the more pressing challenges facing SMEs is the lack of adequate skills, which makes capacity... Sample PDF
Capacity Building in SMEs
Chapter 16
Stephen M. Mutula
Data transmitted over the Internet does not recognize national borders. It is this factor that has led information technology to open up new avenues... Sample PDF
Globalisation of the Digital Economy
Chapter 17
Stephen M. Mutula
Various global initiatives are taking place in the digital economy that aim to enhance global business trade and development, especially with regard... Sample PDF
Trends and Best Practices in the Digital Economy
Chapter 18
Stephen M. Mutula
There are various challenges faced by SMEs in their endeavour to make more active use of the Internet and e-business. These challenges vary widely... Sample PDF
Challenges of the Digital Economy
Chapter 19
Stephen M. Mutula
The primary focus of this book has been on digital economies, SMEs and e-readiness. With the exception of this chapter, which provides the book’s... Sample PDF
Conclusion and the Way Forward
About the Author


Several factors motivated the writing of Digital Economies: SMEs and E-Readiness. For one, the dual importance of e-readiness and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the digital economy cannot be overemphasized. SMEs are vital for the growth and innovation of dynamic economies, particularly because they diversify national economies while generating employment. For SMEs to play their rightful role in the emerging digital economy – driven by the evolution in ICTs, the Internet and the World Wide Web - they need to have attained some reasonable level of e-readiness (i.e. their preparedness to partake in the global information economy based on their capacity to access and use information; access requisite technological infrastructure; have in place adequate human resources; and operate in an enabling legal and regulated business environment).

This book aims to provide valuable insights into the current state of the digital economy and the ability of SMEs to leverage Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) so that they may overcome their traditional laggard position in the global business market. The topics discussed should carry favour with most stakeholders in the SME industry, such as managers of SMEs; policy makers in government and public administration (the main change agents in the adoption and diffusion of Internet commerce among SMEs); researchers who wish to develop interventions, models or theories to help explain SMEs in the digital economy; and students in various disciplines - business, information systems, information technology, information science, info-preneurship, and information management - who need material that comprehensively covers the three core areas discussed in this book for learning purposes.

Although several articles and technical reports have been written on e-readiness and SMEs in general, little treatment has been extended to cover the e-readiness of SMEs with regard to their ability to participate in the digital economy. The strengths of this book are in its holistic and inextricable approach to the treatment of the three core subjects of SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness; and the theoretical and practical flavour of the treatment of the subjects and presentation of cases, experiences and best practices. Examples that illustrate scenarios are drawn cross-jurisdictionally from both developed and developing countries. This approach is considered vital given the rapid globalisation and digitisation of the business environment, and the pressing need for more information and knowledge to determine the patterns of cross-national diffusion of technology in different cultural settings. Thus, the separate but inextricable relationships of SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness, which most books treat in isolation, are coalesced into this single book.

The content of this book comes at a time when there is a shortage of information and sources dealing with SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness. The global e-government and e-readiness reports for 2008 (as supplied by the United Nations and the Economist Intelligence Unit/IBM Institute for Business Value, respectively) do not cite any books in their list of references. Most of the references listed are technical reports, commissioned studies’ web-based sources, and journal articles. The emerging digital economy is just beginning to be appreciated. Consequently, the significant positive effects that the Internet and e-commerce will have on the traditional value chain and business processes call for a re-assessment of the traditional roles of SMEs in society. This is in order to design interventions that would enable them to enhance their e-readiness so that they may benefit from the globalized digital economy. Although the Internet is believed to be an important tool for commercial and consumer transactions, only a small proportion of SMEs in most economies have adopted the technology. It is important for all the various factors that militate against SMEs to be interrogated and unpacked in order to help policy makers and SMEs’ owners find solutions that would help position these enterprises in leading roles in the digital economy. This book provides a framework for scholars and governments to re-assess models that would enhance the capacity of SMEs in the digital dispensation. The book is presented in an easy to understand scholarly fashion, using tables to summarize complex data.

Despite the strengths of the book as stated above, it is possible that the examples and best practices used to illustrate scenarios are biased towards developed countries, which have made great strides in the subjects discussed. The topics covered here are of great international interest. Quite possibly, some of the issues covered in this book may seem out of date by the time this book is published; nevertheless, the book will still reflect the global growth, dynamics and trajectories of the subjects discussed over time. Tracking the development of a subject or discourse can be of significant importance to educators and students. Furthermore, because the subjects of SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness are still nascently evolving, most sources one comes across on these subjects are electronic and often web-based. Although the book has relied on web resources, most of the sources used are from formal e-journals, repositories and informal scholarly communication. Increasingly, a number of web publications now maintain high standards of quality since they are subject to peer review processes. Web-based resources offer researchers and institutions easy access to scientific knowledge, particularly to those located in developing countries, and also for third parties such as economic, business, industrial and political groups. The sources that are used in this book from the web have been carefully selected to ensure that they are based on authoritative studies of reputable organisations and/or individuals.

In spite of the great efforts that have gone into the writing of this book to ensure that it comprehensively covers the subjects discussed, it is imprudent to assume that any book can cover all aspects of such topical and dynamic subjects as SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness. The scope of the book is therefore limited to the interplay and relationships between SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness. The technical aspects of digital economies, such as economic models and theories underpinning digital economies, are not covered. The focus here lies on operational, management and policy issues; digital economic components; digital economy applications and processes (e-commerce, e-business, knowledge management, e-records management, etc); e-readiness assessments (of SMEs and macro enterprises); challenges of SMEs in the digital economy and how they can be ameliorated; capacity building of SMEs; and best practices in digital economies.

This book has significant policy and managerial implications. It provides vital information to governments and development agencies on broad-based issues relating to SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness that can assist them in developing strategic objectives and legal and regulatory frameworks that promote economic growth, infrastructure development, capacity building, and education and training; create awareness of SMEs and the digital economy; and enable access for SMEs to best practices and benchmarking, among other factors. Moreover, SMEs, digital economies and e-readiness have many dimensions that are of a structural (organisational factors), environmental (digital environment) and technological (e-readiness) nature Consequently, the managerial understanding of these issues is necessary to assist SMEs to play a leading role in the digital economy. With regard to e-readiness assessments, these are useful information gathering mechanisms that would assist governments when planning strategies for ICT integration; understanding and identifying key and relevant ICT-based development opportunities; and developing enabling strategies and action plans that would address the opportunities and constraints of leveraging ICTs for business competitiveness.

Author(s)/Editor(s) Biography

Stephen Mutula is an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Zululand. He is also the head of the Department of Library and Information Studies at the University of Botswana. He holds a PhD and master’s degree in information science, a postgraduate diploma in computer science, and a bachelor’s degree in education from the Universities of Johannesburg (SA), Wales (UK), and Nairobi (Kenya), respectively. Prof. Mutula is the author of Web-based information management: A cross disciplinary text, and is also the co-editor of Information and Knowledge Management in the Digital Age: Concepts, Technologies and African Perspectives (Third World Information Services, Ibadan, Nigeria). He serves on several international editorial boards and has won several authorship awards, including the University of Botswana’s Researcher of the Year Award (2006 and 2007), and three Emerald Literati Club authorship excellence awards. He was also the recipient of a scholarly excellence award from the Standing Committee of East, Central, and Southern African Librarians (SCECSAL) in 2000 in Windhoek, Namibia. At the time of writing this book, he was a visiting professor at the Department of Information Science, University of Zululand, South Africa