Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2015: Europe reaches the targets but in a random fashion

Even though European Digital Agenda’s target for 2015 have been almost reached, there is a persistently gap among European Countries and the true situation is hidden behind the numbers. Let us see how few Countries contribute to rise or reduce the average, depending on the case.

Source: – by Nello Iacono – 8 january 2015

First data show lack of homogeneity among European Countries and, even though EU already reached 2015 targets, we don’t see the effects deriving from European policies. SMEs are late. Italy will not reach any 2015 target. But we can see some positive signs.

European Countries have started to update their data about European Digital Agenda and we already know that European Union already reached some targets established for 2015 and is reaching almost the rest of them.

In particular, have been reached the following targets:

Disadvantaged population groups which use internet reach 60,5% (target for 2015 is 60%);
Population which uses eGovernment services and transmits forms reachs 26,1% (the target for 2015 is 25%);
Population which shops online reach 50,2% (the target for 2015 is 50%).

Target that probably will be reached within 2015 are:

Population which never have used internet reached 18,1% (the target for 2015 is 15%);
Population that uses internet regularly reached 74,6% (the target for 2015 is 75%);
Population which use eGovernment services is 46,7% (the target for 2015 is 50%):

We will not reach the following targets:

SMEs that sell online reached 14,5% (the target for 2015 is 33%);
Population which shop online abroad reached 14,6%, only +2% compred to 2013 (the target for 2015 is 20%).

Digital Agenda Targets Overall 2014 FINAL May 2014 green

Three considerations about these first general data:

An Europe at different speeds. Even when the value of the European average are near or over the fixed target, we can see a situation that is substantially spread among virtuous and late coming countries that outlines an Europe at different speeds. For example if we consider the most aligned value (Population which uses eGovernment services and transmits forms) the average 26% is reached thanks to Countries such as Denmark (66%) or Finland, The Netherland or Sweden (almost all over 50%), which compensate for the later countries such as Italy, Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania (all under 12%). The same is for the most critical index (SMES that sell online) which average 14% is given by 25% of Czech Republic, Denmark and Croatia and 5% of Bulgaria and Italy. The spectrum is too large and without an action aimed at readjustment, support and knowledge management unlikely will be reduced. And it is a good thing to see it as one of the strategic priorities for European growth;

SMEs’ delay. The delay of the eCommerce of SMEs reveals a big problem for Italy (that is at the last place for this index). The issue is complicated and certainly roots in the little digital competences of these enterprises, but it is undeniable that European and national policies keep on favoring  big enterprises and multinational corporations, and do not intervene systematically in all the business fabric.

Cross-border shops. The delay of the cross-border online shop is the consequence of the low level of innovation of the enterprises, but maybe is more due to the presence of extra-European multinational companies. This is also an issue concerning industrial policies and market rules.

In general, 2014 data confirm a trend where evolving European Countries such as Scandinavian Countries, The Netherlands and Great Britain are at the first places while Bulgari, Romania, Italy and Greece alternate at the last places. It reflects an European policy with a lack of effects.

We must underline some phenomenons, any way:

• Sweden and Norway make worse at all indexes, especially in the indexes concerning use of digital technologies by the population (Norway does better at the indexes concerning enterprises). Sweden, cause the crisis, reveals a period of difficulties;

• The index that reveals the greater growth in 2014 in every European countries (+6%) is the mobile connection (outside the houses and workplace) with pc and tablet. It reveals an increasing trend (smart working). Biggest exception is Norway (which remains one of the first European Countries) and Italy (which is stable at 13,6%, the penultimate place).

Italian situation

This survey of 2014 shows Italy follows up the past few years. So it is still true what has been written on the Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2013 about the vicious cycle established in Italy “given the low level of use of internet among the population and enterprises, firms don’t need to hire ICT expecialist”.

As “Citizen and New Technologies” report have shown, signals of a significant revolution have been observed. Italy is still in the last places for the presence in the web and the use of digital technologies by population (both in the case of eGovernment and eCommerce) and by enterprises (especially SMEs). There are some gaps in terms of gender and geographically.

The principal exception, positive signal, is the improvement on the index of level of integration among inner processes of an enterprises thanks to ERP, with an important stride (from 27% to 37% of the enterprises, passes Germany), that has been important especially in the SMEs and maybe has been generated from the need of organize the innovation of the business for possible external business processes.

Emblematic, in the end, data of cloud services use for file storage/share and use of eGovernment services: in both cases only one in three of internet users. This is another proof of the real size of the population “digitally aware”. So, there are some positive initiative:

• Laying down strategic documents for Ultra-Wideband and Digital Growth;

• Starting of the Italia Login program, which aim at changing the paradigm of interaction between administration and citizens;

• Laying down of the Rai project on the digital alphabetization “Manzi 2.0”, deriving from the agreement between Rai, AgID and Digital Champions Association;

• Relaunch of the Italian Alliance for digital competences, principal national strategy on digital competences;

Italy will not reach any 2015 European Scoreboard target. We already known it, but is important to create a “recovery and overtaking roadmap” with measurable targets in order to control it.

This is the best time to start coordinated ventures, valuing all energies and experiences, simplifying regulations, reducing bureaucracy, knowing that only a substantial and converging ventures, also in terms of human resources, can help Italy to exit this stalemate.

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