Information and communication technology (ICT) forms an increasingly important parts of the world trade and has been one of the fastest developing areas of science, technology and business during the recent decades. The global economic crises led to a sharp fall in domestic demand which forced the companies of Estonian ICT sector to look for new ways to increase their export capabilities. The aim of the study was to provide an overview of developments in ICT companies and to identify the current export activities, export volumes, target markets and export promoters and barriers.
„Marketing and ability to build cooperative relations in terms of preservation of competitiveness is becoming increasingly important in the rapidly globalising and changing ICT market.“ – Helena Rozeik
It turned out the ICT sector’s proportion of the business sector is relatively small, contributing to employment, export and added value creation with 4% to 7%. Only 31%, or 661 companies export, many of which have small export volumes.
One of the main strengths of Estonian ICT companies is the opportunity to offer their products and services with a good quality-price ratio. However, strong competition on foreign markets and the lack of suitable labour are preventing the full implementation of the export potential.
It was found that ICT companies’ own expectations for the future are positive. The sector’s exports volumes have increased steadily in recent years. Nevertheless the knowledge of independent marketing and establishing cooperative relations with other companies, universities, research bodies and development institutes is weak.
Recommendations for the development of ICT sector’s export opportunities:
- The shortage of suitable labour – more effort should be invested in ICT-related training and in determining which qualified professionals are needed.
- New and potential exporters could benefit from then information about target markets. Training and seminars about the target markets in general and the ICT sector’s specifics would be helpful.
- Experienced exporters tend to use intermediary at the target market or doing outsourcing but they do not consider marketing as one of their strengths. Due to this, the competence of independent marketing should be increased. Enterprise Estonia and its affiliates could provide support for developing the competence.
- Cooperation with universities and research and development bodies should be encouraged.