Organizations born in digital era are trying hard to achieve digital maturity, which is crucial for their competiveness and market relevance. Even though digital transformation is a key part of many organisations’ evolution process, it still requires effective management as well as appropriate methods and tools.

„Adapting to increasingly digital market environments and taking advantage of digital technologies to improve operations are important goals for nearly every contemporary business. “ *



Project DIGITRANS is all about finding the best tools and methods that will help organizations transform their businesses and use full potential of digital technologies. In order to develop the right methodology and tools for implementation of digital transformation it was necessary to analyse the current level of digital maturity in partners’ regions. 

Analysis aim was to collect relevant data required for project’s later phases, taking into account the diversity and specific needs of each region. Due to the lack of relevant studies regarding the digital maturity of three relevant sectors (Creative Industry, Health Sector and Advanced Manufacturing), this analysis has been conducted in a careful manner by interviewing several experts per sector. The results reflect the current state of digital maturity in three sectors in all seven regions.


Advanced manufacturing sector

In most interviews, majority of experts specified that SMEs in the advanced manufacturing sector are largely aware of the digital transformation, its opportunities and challenges. However, they are often unaware of digital technologies’ advantages.

On a strategic level, management is sometimes unprepared to digitalise business models and the subject is often reduced to technological layer. This results in a lack of systematic approach to a comprehensive digital strategy.

Other common arguments for neglecting digitalization are:

  • limited financial resources
  • a lack of highly skilled professionals
  • general education curricula, lifelong learning and vocational trainings are incompatible with industry needs.

SMEs often hire external experts, use regional incubators, support institutions and competence centres in order to fill the gap of digital experts’ deficits.

Several experts stated that in order to attract young professionals they are ready to offer attractive virtual workplaces and work-life balance opportunities as a part of the deal.

When it comes to comparisons, SMEs in Hungary and Baden-Württemberg appear to be the most digitalised in the advanced manufacturing sector according to regional experts. Strategy, leadership and human resources are also rated significantly higher in those regions, but low in Romania. On the other hand, the operations dimension is highly prioritized in Romania but only when compared to Croatia and Slovenia.

Average estimated digital maturity of the advanced manufacturing sector in the Danube area


Health care sector

The health sector analysis in partner regions has shown that there is a high level of awareness in scope of technology and operations. On the other hand, understanding of strategy, leadership and people regarding digitalization is low.

While the benefits of state-of-the-art technology for diagnostics, treatment or process optimization in general are quite clear, the necessity of a digital strategy appears to be lost on majority of businesses.  The digitalization in health care sector is often reduced to only a technological layer with the lack of systematic approach.

The experts conducting the analysis stated high variety of solutions and lacking standards as the greatest obstacles to incorporate digitalization in health care. Similar to advanced manufacturing sector, a lack of high skilled professionals with appropriate skills is the common problem, which negatively affects digitalization and related initiatives in health care sector.

SMEs in Hungary and Bulgaria appear to be most “digitally mature” according to regional experts. On the other hand, there is much room for improvement in Romania when it comes to strategy and leadership and in Baden-Württemberg when it comes to governance. The experts in Romania and Hungary consider operations as the most mature dimension in their regions.

Average estimated digital maturity of the health care sector in the Danube area


Creative industry sector

In creative industry sector, the experts consider technology and products as most mature dimensions. It is a result of SMEs often being early adopters of new digital technologies. Technologies such as mobile and web applications, social media and Internet of Things are applied for ideation, creation and dissemination of cultural and creative assets and could be considered as business enablers rather than drivers.

However, the issues of missing experts and a lack of systematic approach to comprehensive digital strategy also apply in the creative industry. Most experts agree that the sector has implemented digital transformation fully as its digitalisation activities are, in fact, the main source of company profits.

Strategy, governance, people and leadership are assessed as most immature dimensions in all regions. Most experts agree that the sector implemented digital transformation well as the activities related to the production of digital products and services are in many cases the main source of company’s profit.

The other dimensions closely related to utilization of the technology are rated as most mature in Baden-Württemberg (products and technology), Hungary (operations and culture) and Romania (operations).

Average estimated digital maturity of the creative industry in the Danube area


Digital transformation process as a vital part of business evolution

Digital technology continues to evolve. From the SMEs’ perspective, successful digital transformation requires careful collaboration, planning and inclusion of every department.

By synthesizing the most established approaches for the development of innovative digital business models and addressing all relevant dimensions, the DIGITRANS method as well as the training concept should support SMEs to face their digital transformation challenges.

The method will provide information and guidelines on how to create innovative digital business models, which are sustainable and fit the regional needs.

It will facilitate the knowledge transfer throughout the regions by taking into account regional diversities and at the same time enable SMEs to implement organizational culture, which will boost their ability to embed the digitalization into their business’ core.

The full Digital Maturit Report can be found HERE.

More about prioject DIGITRANS: www.interreg-danube.eu/approved-projects/digitrans



Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)