Digital transformation of manufacturing SMEs: a review of current state, success factors, research gaps, and future directions

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Digital Transformation (DT) is rapidly transforming the manufacturing landscape, presenting both opportunities and challenges for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). Despite its significance, research on DT in this context often focuses on broad success factors, neglecting industry-specific determinants crucial for successful implementation. This paper addresses this gap by investigating the current state of DT in manufacturing SMEs, highlighting research lacunae, and exploring critical success factors. It further examines the potential impacts of DT on SMEs and identifies avenues for future research. Ultimately, this paper aims to answer the question: "How can SME manufacturing strategically leverage DT for market success?" The findings of this study highlight the crucial role of a strategic digital approach, a skilled and adaptable workforce, visionary business leadership, a culture that embraces change, and the adoption of advanced technologies such as automation and Big Data analytics in facilitating successful DT and unlocking its potential for market success. By fostering a strategic approach, SMEs can utilize these technologies to streamline operations and enhance decision-making. A skilled workforce is indispensable to operate and maintain these technologies, while visionary leadership provides the direction and resources necessary for successful implementation. Finally, a culture that embraces change fosters continuous improvement and maximizes the benefits of DT. This paper provides practical guidance for navigating the intricacies of DT in the SME manufacturing sector, empowering these businesses to seize the vast opportunities it offers. By offering a deeper understanding of DT in this context, this research provides valuable insights that can shape future research efforts and steer successful DT implementation strategies, ultimately fostering growth and competitiveness in the digital age.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberTFS-D-24-04450
Number of pages33
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Publication statusSubmitted - 28 May 2024


  • digital transformation
  • manufacturing SMEs
  • critical success factors
  • digital strategy
  • DT impact
  • organisational culture
  • human resources
  • digital leadership
  • research gaps
  • future directions


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