The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) monitors Europe’s overall digital performance and tracks the progress of EU countries in digital competitiveness. By providing data on the state of digitisation of each Member State, it helps them identify areas requiring priority investment and action.
The DESI 2020 reports are based on 2019 data and assesses the status of the digital economy and society prior to the pandemic. The current crisis is having an important impact on key societal indicators, relating to the use of internet services by citizens. This does not show in the latest 2019 official statistics as reported in DESI. Consequently, the DESI 2020 findings need to be read in conjunction with the large number of measures in digital taken by the Commission and the Member States to manage the pandemic and to support the economic recovery.
DESI is made up of 5 dimensions – connectivity, human capital, use of Intrnet, integration of digital technology, and digital public services.
Acoording to DESI 2020 report, in the past year, there was an improvement both in internet user skills (at least basic digital skills) and in advanced skills (ICT graduates and ICT specialists). In 2019, the percentage of people that have at least basic digital skills reached 58% (up from 55% in 2015). A large part of the EU population, however, still lacks basic digital skills, even though most jobs require such skills. In 2018, some 9.1 million people worked as ICT specialists across the EU, 1.6 million more than 4 years earlier. Nevertheless, there remains a shortage of ICT specialists on the labour market: 64% of large enterprises and 56% of SMEs that recruited ICT specialists during 2018, reported that vacancies for ICT specialists are hard to fill. The problem is even more widespread in Romania and Czechia, where at least 80% of enterprises that either recruited or tried to recruit ICT specialists reported such difficulties. There is also a gender balance issue as only one in six ICT specialists are female. Overall, in the Human capital dimension of the DESI, Finland, Sweden and Estonia are the most advanced.
Also according to DESI, the use of advanced digital technologies, such as AI, Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data analysis will enhance productivity, improve efficiency and open up new opportunities for European businesses in all sectors, all of which are crucial for the economic recovery. While businesses are getting more and more digitised, only a fraction of SMEs rely on advanced cloud (17%) and big data applications (12%). Malta is the European leader in big data (24% of companies), while Finland is the most advanced on the uptake of cloud services (50% of companies). There is a substantial gap between large companies and SMEs. This gap exists for not only advanced technologies, but also for basic digital solutions such as having an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software package and e-commerce.
More about 2020 Digital Economy and Society Index DESI report, you can find here.