The emergence of digital technologies shapes the future societal and business environment, leading to dramatic changes in every corporate level of the enterprises. Confronted with the growing concept of Industry 4.0 which involves the extensive collaboration between physical and virtual worlds and promises a variety of substantial benefits, companies are forced to deal with a set of challenges. This is particularly relevant for such transitional economies that besides struggling to recover from aftershocks caused by the global economic crisis and socio-economic impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are exposed to the risk of being left behind in the global competition due to the lack of systematic approach of catching up with the recent technological advancements. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive view on the organizational strategy, processes, operations, products, and culture. As it will help to assess the current development progress of SMEs and to lay the foundation for establishing a detailed roadmap toward the implementation of smart manufacturing systems and Industry 4.0 in general. Moreover, SMEs are defined as backbones of the transitional economies, so that for such developing countries as the Republic of Kazakhstan, the improvement of the segment is of utmost importance. That is why SMEs must take proactive actions in Industry 4.0 projects and build their implementation strategies. This paper introduces a novel readiness model which in particular, suited for the manufacturing SMEs of emerging economies.