The COVID-19 crisis has led to increased digitization efforts by EU companies. According to a new report by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Digitization in Europe 2022-2023: The EIB Investment Survey, 53% of companies in the European Union have taken steps by 2022 to improve their digital presence, for example by offering online services. Thus, the European Union narrows the gap with the United States in adopting advanced digital technologies, as 69% of European Union companies have implemented advanced digital technologies such as advanced robotics, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence, compared to 71% of American companies.
While EU companies have made great strides, US companies as a whole have made more progress with regards to digitization in response to the pandemic, due to the lack of digital investment by micro and small businesses in the EU. Only 30% of small businesses in the EU prioritize digitization, compared to 62% of large firms.
To achieve digital transformation and reap its long-term benefits, the EU must go beyond the adoption of technologies and consider the broader societal implications. Deborah Revoltella, director of the EU’s Department of Economic Affairs, said training workers to improve their digital skills will be critical to creating an environment conducive to innovation within the EU, which in turn will help make businesses and regions more competitive and resilient. European Investment Bank.
Spain invests in information technology
In data from the European Investment Bank’s Investing by Country survey, Spanish companies stand out for their use of advanced digital technologies, standing eleven percentage points above the EU average (80% vs. 69%). This result places Spain in second place in the European Union, next to Denmark, with more companies investing in these technologies, after only Slovenia (83%).
In terms of the types of advanced digital technologies, Spain exceeds the EU average in five of the seven innovations considered in the report: digital platforms, the Internet of Things, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, and advanced drones and robotics.
Despite the progress made, significant disparities in digital infrastructures remain between EU regions, with 14% of businesses seeing limited access to digital infrastructures as a major barrier to investment. In addition, companies’ digitization efforts depend to a large extent on having workers with digital skills.
Areas where workers have above-average digital skills tend to apply advanced digital technologies, and companies in these areas have invested more in digitization during the coronavirus crisis. Therefore, it is imperative that regions improve education and training systems to permanently expand workers’ skills and provide online learning opportunities to bridge the digital divide.