Endowed with a budget of 3,067 million euros until 2023, the Digital Kit is an ambitious plan that aims to modernize companies and SMEs in Spain. The first call has extended the term by six months and allows access to aid of up to 12,000 euros to businesses with up to 49 employees.
This is an excellent opportunity for small businesses to get a boost for the creation of their website, the management of social networks or the implementation of virtual tools. However, in the same way that they are easy to receive, they have also become an excuse for some to take advantage of money that has fallen from public coffers.
The chaos of digitizing agents. The Digital Kit is not an aid that is received directly, but works as a “discount voucher” to contract certain services. There is a very relevant figure and that is the digitizing agent. These are external companies that will create the website for our company, provide virtual support and generally help us digitize our business. Depending on each digitizing agent we will have some services or others.
There are currently more than 9,300 registered digitizing agents, from the main operators such as Telefónica, Orange or Vodafone to specialized IT companies, including large stores such as MediaMarkt or Carrefour, which offer this service through third parties.
Fixed amounts for very different services. Once the aid has been granted, these digitizing agents are the ones in charge of carrying out the justification procedures and they are the ones who receive the final payment of the voucher. That is, the employer asks for help and the digitizing agent offers the service. But as always, the service is not the same everywhere.
With the Digital Kit, it is the case that there are companies processing aid worth €2,000, €4,000 or €6,000 and they are returning services with a lower value or directly unrelated to the plan. Faced with this, the recommendation is to choose very well with whom the help of the Digital Kit is going to be processed.
Going digital is as simple as answering 13 basic questions. The interest of the Government is that almost any company has access to these aids, the fact is that the requirements are very weak. There is almost no need to justify what this aid is going to be used for. The process that determines it is a digital self-diagnosis test that evaluates the “digital maturity” of the company.
It is a test of 13 ICT questions such as the following:
- Do you have ICT security measures in your organization?
- What is the maximum contracted download speed of your internet connection?
- Does your organization have a profile on any social network?
- Do you use a CRM that allows you to organize and manage processes related to your customers?
- What is the average percentage of your workforce that has an electronic device and uses the internet?
This test to obtain the digital bonus is so simple that it takes no more than 10 minutes to complete. An almost insignificant time if that allows access to aid. The truth is that the Kit Digital program does have more advanced tests, with 48 questions and topics such as digital organization, infrastructure, cybersecurity or online marketing, but this is optional.
Entrepreneurs with no real interest in going digital. The ease of asking for help, together with the figure of digitizing agents, encourages many companies to sign up for the program simply because it is “easy to obtain” money. The goal is to offer services that help modernize SMEs, but creating a simple website is not an advantage. Worse yet, there is the case of digitizing agents that offer services as direct as a mobile. Sign up with us and receive the mobile.
The bases of the Digital Kit accept hardware as one of the reasons for obtaining the aid: “Devices that are included in the pay-per-use mode will be eligible for subsidy, as part of a digitization solution, when their supply is essential for the provision of the contracted solution, without being used for purposes other than providing this solution.»
Giving away iPhones. Interestingly, many of these companies try to get in touch by mail and their emails end up in the SPAM tray. They are not an internet scam (although we would not recommend signing up). There are digitizing agents whose services are directly giving away iPhones 13. What company could resist? You simply sign up, fill out the digital test and they send you the mobile. It is an extreme case, but representative of the extent to which digitizing agents fight to attract companies of any kind.
Abancode is a digitizer agent that promises free iPhones. What User Mau Santambrosio points us out, reading your FAQ allows us to get an idea: “To get the iphone, you don’t have to pay anything. Simply enter the digital kit program from our hand”; “We take care of everything.”
A tempting hook for freelancers and a clear example of what is not intended with the Digital Kit. Abancode itself offers more services, but this particular claim highlights the problems. Because also surely the iPhone 13 is below the aid of the Digital plan that the digitizing agent will receive. In the event that the administration accepts the project.
The opposite effect: if it doesn’t come in as help, I’m not interested. The interest in accessing the aid of the Digital Kit has spread in recent months to the point that there are cases where there are small IT companies that have lost customers due to the fact that they are not registered as digitizing agents. Why pay to create a web page for me if I can go to another company and have it included as part of the Digital Kit? Some have even raised it, as professionals in the sector explain to Xataka.
Delays and bureaucracy. This quest to obtain the benefits of the Digital Kit has also generated an additional layer of complexity. It is true that the request by the employer is simple, but then the digitizing agent may have problems receiving the benefit, as many are denouncing.
Here we can differentiate between small digitizing agents, involved in more bureaucracy, and large companies such as telephone operators, who have it very close at hand and in the end are the option most chosen by many companies to opt for the Digital Kit aid.
And yet, few companies are taking advantage of the Digital Kit. We have seen that the aid of the Digital Kit can end up being “given away”, but to further complicate the matter, it should also be mentioned that even in this way it is not possible for European funds to reach all Spanish SMEs.
According to a report prepared by KPMG, only 2.4% of SMEs and 2.1% of the self-employed have tried to access aid. Perhaps for this reason, the government has decided to extend the term that expired on September 15 for an additional 6 months. Until the beginning of August, 68,000 applications were received and 21,000 grants were awarded. Aid that, hopefully, will be used effectively for digitization.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism