Digital is progressing but SMEs are still lagging behind - Business

Digital is progressing but SMEs are still lagging behind – Business

EU countries have made progress in adopting digital technologies during the pandemic, but they are suffering from skills shortages and SMEs are struggling to catch up, according to a report published on Thursday.

Of the 27 Member States, the Finlandthe Denmarkthem Netherlands and the Sweden are the most advanced in digitalisation, ahead of Ireland, Malta and Spain, according to the European Commission’s annual report based on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

Romania, Bulgaria and Greece have the lowest scores, according to this indicator which measures progress in four main areas: people’s skills, infrastructure, business transformation and digitization of public services.

France ranks 12th, between Slovenia and Germany.

Even the most advanced EU countries “experience shortcomings in key areas” such as the use of artificial intelligence and big data (“Big Data”) or skills shortages, notes the Commission.

Alone 54% of Europeans aged 16-74 have at least “basic digital skills”, she worries. The EU is aiming for 80% in 2030.

In addition, “although 500,000 information and communication technology (ICT) specialists entered the labor market between 2020 and 2021, the 9 million present in the Union are not sufficient to fill the shortages” companies. The Commission hopes for 20 million in 2030.

“During the Covid pandemic, companies increased their use of digital solutions” and the use of cloud computing now concerns 34% of them, the Commission further indicates. But only 8% of companies use artificial intelligence and 14% big data (target: 75% in 2030).

The situation is worse on the side of SMEs, of which only 55% “have achieved at least a basic level of digitization“. The goal is to reach 90% by 2030.

“We must redouble our efforts to ensure that all EU SMEs, business sectors and industries have the best digital solutions,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said in a statement.

Brussels, however, observes a trend towards convergence: “Member States which started from lower levels are gradually catching up by progressing more quickly”. This is particularly the case in Italy, Poland and Greece.

Among the 27 Member States, Finland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden are the most advanced in terms of digitalisation, ahead of Ireland, Malta and Spain, indicates the annual report of the European Commission which is based on the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Romania, Bulgaria and Greece score lowest on this indicator, which measures progress in four main areas: population, infrastructure, business transformation and digitization of public services. France ranks 12th, between Slovenia and Germany. Even the most advanced EU countries “have gaps in key areas” such as the use of artificial intelligence and “Big Data” or skills shortages, notes the Commission.Only 54% of Europeans aged 16 to 74 have at least “basic digital skills”, if she worries. The EU is aiming for 80% by 2030. In addition, “although 500,000 information and communication technology (ICT) specialists will have entered the labor market between 2020 and 2021, the 9 million present in the Union are not enough to fill the shortages” of companies. The Commission hopes for 20 million in 2030. “During the Covid pandemic, companies have increased their use of digital solutions” and the use of cloud computing now concerns 34% of them, further indicates the Commission. But only 8% of companies use artificial intelligence and 14% big data (target: 75% in 2030). The situation is worse for SMEs, of which only 55% “have reached at least a basic level of digitization” . The aim is to reach 90% by 2030. “We must redouble our efforts to ensure that all EU SMEs, business sectors and industries have the best digital solutions”, declared the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, in a press release. Brussels is however observing a trend towards convergence: “the Member States which started from lower levels are gradually catching up by progressing more quickly”. This is particularly the case in Italy, Poland and Greece.

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