UK Is ‘Sixth Best Digital Nation’ In The EU

The UK has one of the leading digital economies in Europe, but still has some way to go in order to top the pile, according to a new European Commission report.

The Digital Economy and Society Index, which examines how nations perform in areas such as connectivity, internet use, providing digital public sector services, and the integration of digital technology, ranked the UK sixth overall in Europe.

Denmark came out on top of the 28 EU nations, followed by Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland and Belgium, with Romania in last place.

High-performance

The Index highlighted that the UK has made progress on connectivity with an increased number of fast broadband connections, and implementing falling prices of these connections.

Huge leaps have also been made in terms of digital public services, as our nation climbed five places as more people use the government’s online services, which increased from 24 percent last year to 37 percent in 2014.

However, the report said that the UK could do more on the integration of digital technology, with many businesses in particular reluctant to exploit them.

“A true digital economy is one where businesses take full advantage of the possibilities and benefits offered by digital technologies, both to improve their efficiency and productivity, as well as to reach customers and realise sales,” it said.

“Businesses in the United Kingdom are not fully taking advantage of these possibilities.”

“The adoption of digital technologies is an important driver of labour productivity growth and needs to be strengthened,” the report added.

“The percentage of businesses using technologies such as electronic information sharing (ERP – 12 percent) and RFID (1.6 percent), are very low and the UK ranks second to last in the EU for these two indicators. In terms of e-invoices and Cloud take-up UK businesses perform similar to the EU average.”

However, business take-up of social media, recorded at 28 percent of enterprises, was described as ‘advanced’. Domestic ecommerce by SMEs was also recorded as being somewhat more widespread in the UK than in other EU countries, with ecommerce turnover at a similar rate to the EU average, as is the percentage of SMEs that sell online cross-border.

Ode to joy

Overall, the report highlights that the EU as a whole has made good progress in online connectivity, helped by a major increase in the number of citizens using mobile broadband (from 58 to 67 subscribers per 100 people) and by the take-up of fast broadband (the share of fast connections increased from 18 percent to 22 percent of all broadband connections).

The EU has also seen improvements in the basic digital skills of its citizens (from 55 percent to 59 percent of the population), but still has a long way to go in equipping its citizens with the necessary skills and competences to fully take advantage of the digital economy.

The most improved nation was Greece, helped by better performance in connectivity and take-up of digital public services, with significant progress also made by Spain and Bulgaria.

“These figures show Europe is going digital, and Europeans enjoying great new services,” said Andrus Ansip, vice president for the Digital Single Market. “The vast majority of Europeans are going online: citizens want to access online content, we need to make it easier for them.”

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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