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Stimulating the power of SMEs and their associations in Europe

April 6, 2012

Associations need to change their traditional role, going away from being only lobbying organizations, to become providers of innovative services to the SMEs they are serving.
SMEs are more and more asking for tangible benefits from their associations otherwise they tend to leave the associations.
They need easy and simple instruments, available in their own language, to help them complying with the mandatory regulations and to assist them in the path to reach the voluntary certifications.

To discuss this primary issue please welcome…

- Mrs. Caterina Berbenni-Rehm, CEO PROMIS @ Service Sarl in Luxembourg
- Mr. Andrea Benassi, Secretary General UEAPME
- Mr. Bernd Becker, Chairman EuroCloud Deutschland_eco e.V. and Vice President EuroCloud Europe

Question 1 to Mrs. Berbenni-Rehm:

We have already mentioned the specific role of associations in this context: You are the initiator of PROMIS®. What is the designated role of PROMIS in terms of adapting European associations to more and more sensitize SMEs to make consistent use of adequate tools, funds etc.?

During the last years I have learnt 2 lessons:

• While from one side SMEs are the backbone of Europe’s economy, from the other side they are very heterogeneous, dispersed and not easy to be reached;
• The experience confirms how important it is for associations and Chambers of Commerce to take over a CATALYST role in becoming providers of structured information, as well as pre-tailored services. The role of associations, in addition to lobbying, should become more and more the one of INNOVATORS which means “tutor, mentor, and assistant” to the SME members they want to serve.

To do this, Associations need to have at hand comprehensive ICT solutions, encompassing all the tools which are needed:

(i) to be compliant to legal and other requirements,
(ii) to structure knowledge and dedicated services,
(iii) to work interactively online with the SMEs,
(iv) to build professional communities.
This is exactly the cockpit platform we have developed in the last years with the support of the European Commission. For those who might not yet know, PROMIS® is a software-as-a-service solution, which helps small organisations to deal with a complex regulatory environment, to structure processes and data in a systematic way, and to achieve de-facto compliance with legal requirements and the major international Standards for H&S, Quality and Environmental management, as well as ICT Security, Education and CSR.

Follow-up question 2 to Mrs. Berbenni-Rehm:

Let’s figure out the aspect of Community Building: A current project of yours is called ‘Connecting good People into better Teams for mutual Benefit’. What is this project all about?

Community Building for me is all about how to build up real and sustainable professional collaborations and alliances:
“real” because they bring tangible results and
“sustainable” because they are built upon mutual benefits.
Community Building in PROMIS, is also dealing with “Communities of Knowledge” which, among others, means to structure experience in a pyramid and share it among peers (associations and experts) or sell it to clients.

Question 3 to Mrs. Berbenni-Rehm:

Software as a Service, Cloud Computing etc.: What are the effects of future-oriented technologies on business management, especially in terms of compliance and providing free capacities in these companies?

The effects of technologies on business management in SMEs… in my opinion they are of paramount importance and I can summarise them in 4 points:
To save money, getting rid of hardware on-site
To find the answers to questions ‘at a finger tip’
To save time, being professionally served & advised directly online
To achieve evidence-based compliance to legal & other requirements, all this in one place.

Last Statement

In world which is getting smaller, faster and multiethnic also at local level, Multilingualism becomes a very important “enabler” at least for the next 50-75 years.
Together with UEAPME we are working in PROMISLingua, a European project dealing with machine translation and related technologies; multilingualism to support integrated compliance for small organisations and their associations.

CEBIT 2012, 8/3/2012

Too see the video of the interview click here.

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