Digital transformation is a broad concept encompassing the changes induced by the increased availability and use of digital technologies in almost all kind of human activities. For businesses – and this our focus in this article – it implies that existing or emerging digital technologies contribute to change their business models, their products or services and the way they are manufactured and delivered, as well as the necessary skills to remain competitive in fast changing competitive environments.
Europe has without doubt strong assets in digital technologies and skills, both on the industry and research side. However, it is commonly accepted that there is a “need for action” so as to foster the digital transformation, especially in SMEs and traditional sectors. But also high-tech businesses have to keep up with global competition and the emergence of disruptive technologies and business models.
In July 2018, the European Commission published its Digital Transformation Scoreboard 2018, which “studies the uptake of digital technologies in businesses across the EU” and contributes to monitoring the progress triggered by the implementation of the Digitising European Industry strategy adopted by the EC in April 2016.
Besides providing valuable insights on business opportunities and key technologies relevant to the digital transformation of European’s industry, the following three chapters of the report are of particular relevance for policy makers driving economic policies:
1. Indicators for monitoring the digital transformation
The monitoring of digital transformation is performed especially on the basis of a series of indicators compiled from national statistic offices and international organisations. They are clustered in so-called “enablers” and “output” indicators, as displayed in Figure 1:
Figure 1: Indicators monitored by the Digital Transformation Scoreboard.
Those indicators provide a reference framework for policy makers on national, regional and local levels when planning, implementing or monitoring their policies related to the digital transformation in their relevant target industries.
- National digital transformation policies and programmes
This chapter provides an overview of the national digital transformation policies currently in place in different EU Member States (about 2/3 of them).
The report summarises the key characteristics of such national policy initiatives – priority challenge, design and implementation, sources of funding, scale and strategic approach – as well as an outlook on their outcomes in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs) and achieved impacts.
Good Practice examples are showcased, such as the Belgian Made Different initiative (see Figure 2), which focuses on the actual deployment of digital technologies in local manufacturing companies.
More information on those national policies can be found on the Digital Transformation Monitor website.
Good Practice: The deployment focus of Belgium's Made Different
The Belgian Made Different focuses on deploying technological solutions in local companies. It supports and steers businesses during their transformation into Factories of the Future (FoF). The detailed concept defined seven key areas covering technological, production, sustainability and human-centres aspects. All these pillars are interlinked and companies must adopt an all-encompassing transformation strategy in order to successfully qualify as an FoF. Around 265 Belgian manufacturing companies are actively participating and have implemented or started to implement one of the seven key transformations.
- Country profile reports for each of the 28 Member States
The single country profiles are meant to provide for the 28 EU Members States an overview of the digital transformation performance both in terms of progress made, which takes the form of a performance comparison compared to the previous year, and benchmarking by comparing each country’s performance with the EU average.
This information is provided for each of the seven indicators monitored. Figure 2 below shows exemplarily the results for Estonia:
Figure 3: Estonia’s performance in digital transformation.
For each of the analysed Member States, the profiles also encompass a brief analysis of strengths and areas for improvement as well as interesting policy practices.
In sum, the report features The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, and Luxembourg as the leaders in terms of conditions enabling digital transformation (Digital Transformation Enablers Index) whereas Denmark, Ireland, and Finland have the best results for the integration of digital technologies (Digital Technology Index).
Support from the Interreg Europe Policy Learning Platform
Considering the number of Interreg Europe projects (CYBER, DEVISE, FFWD EUROPE, INTRA, Future Ecom, RegionArts, SKILLS+, TRINNO …) addressing the digital transformation from different perspectives, the Policy Learning Platform will organise by the end of September an online discussion on digital transformation in order to initiate the sharing of experiences among project partners and provide expertise where required.
Announcements will be made in the coming days through the website of the Policy Learning Platform and invitations will be sent out via email.
Sources and further reading
EC’s Digitising European Industry website, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/digitising-european-industry
EC’s Digital Transformation Monitor, https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/dem/monitor/
EC article and download page for the Digital Transformation Scoreboard 2018, https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/are-eu-companies-adopting-digital-technologies
EC website on the Integration of Digital Technology by Enterprises, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/integration-digital-technology
Digital Economy and Society Index Report 2018, download at http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/newsroom/image/document/2018-20/4_desi_report_integration_of_digital_technology_B61BEB6B-F21D-9DD7-72F1FAA836E36515_52243.pdf
European Platform of National Initiatives on Digitising Industry, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/cordination-european-national-regional-initiatives
#InterregEurope #policylearning #SME competitiveness #digital transformation
 Digitising European Industry, https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/policies/digitising-european-industry, 03.08.2018
 EC article, https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/news/are-eu-companies-adopting-digital-technologies, 01.08.2018
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