4 min read
According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), Spain ranks in the top 10 of all European countries when it comes to its digital status quo. With a speedy development of its digital readiness as well as a strong foundation of digital know-how, it's a force to be reckoned with.
The Digital Economoy and Society Index is a regular report on the digital status quo of the EU members. The report for Spain can be downloaded here.
The Strengths: A big growth spurt
Spain performs better than the EU average in the main four DESI categories (human capital, connectivity, integration of digital technology & digital public services).
Digital basic skills are high
Spain's digital skills are more than 10% above EU-average for both basic and advanced skills, including "digital content creation skills", a new variable in the 2022 edition of the DESI report.
With the exception of overall ICT specialists, all sub-categories in the humpan capital categeory fulfill the EU-average or are above it. Additionally, the report says that Spain has started a Digital Spain 2025 strategy that will focus on training with ICT specialists but also people who lack basic skills and therefore might be excluded from any digital activities (including work) in the future. This way, Spain wants to strengthen and increase the core knowledge of its populace.
Other campaigns aim to provide technology (hardware and software) to support the education system as well as mandatory coding and digital education.
A strong infrastructure
Spain's broadband take-up has developed incredibly well over the years, especially for households that have at least 100Mbps fixed broadband take-up (72% vs. 41% EU-wide). In fact, this number has increased by nearly 20% from 2019 to 2021.
Another exceptional outlier is the Fibre to the Premises coverage which is 89% compared to 50% EU-wide. All in all, Spain surpasses the EU average in all but two sub-categories (1Gbps take-up and 5G coverage). However, at least regarding 5G coverage, Spain has developed vastly in only a few years (13% in 2020 vs. 59% in 2021) that it's only a matter of time until the country catches up with the rest of the EU.
The economy loves digital channels
When it comes to Spain's digital economy, the country fares comparatively well, especially when it comes to electronic information sharing, use of social media, ICT for environmental sustainability and online shopping for small to middle-sized enterprises. This mix of different technologies shows that the Spanish economy is a lot more progressive when it comes to new digital channels to scale their business.
Another interesting development lies within the environmental technology that includes megatrends such as edge computing, a technology that has disruptive potential. It is worthy to note that Spain also launched its very own quantum computer project in 2021 to build its own local computer.
Public services are best in class
Last but not least, Spain's digital public services surpass the EU-average on all accounts, and on average by more than 10%. Spain is especially strong when it comes to digital public services for citizens and businesses and the use of open data. Spain is aiming to enable more people to use its public services digitally by developing apps, digitizing public administration and even justice processes. Additionally, Spain is very active in the public healthcare sector.
The Weaknesses: No love for the cloud
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Lack of ICT skills
As almost every single other European country, Spain has a lack of ICT specialists despite solid numbers regarding ICT graduates and female ICT specialists. One of the reasons could be that many graduates will leave the country and work for international companies. Spain might not be below average but could do well to aim for a percentage above average to strengthen its ICT market.
Fast internet is slowest to grow
A very glaring number compared to pretty much all other categories and sub-categories is the low take-up of households with at least 1Gbps which is at 0.02% compared to 7.58% EU-wide. Apparently, Spain is aiming to achieve 100% by 2030, it will therefore be interesting to see how (fast) the number increases. Given how fast other areas have developed. in the last 2-3 years, it is not impossible, though.
Cloud and big data need some cheerleaders
The Spanish economy might be digital when it comes to channels but it is quite reluctant when it comes to big data and cloud. This seems almost counter-intuitive. The cloud is the core necessity to digitalize businesses on a holistic level.
Plus, the use of different channels as well as online shopping lends itself to the use of generated data for more personalized customer experiences as well as increased efficiency. Plus, the future of any business is not just the digitization of processes and channels but also the use of data to optimize processes, target messages, and create seamless experiences for customers (as well as make life easier for employees).
Summary: Set up for success - with more resources and data analysis
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Spain's digital future looks golden overall. The infrastructure is solid, the population is digitally educated and businesses know how to use digital channels to expand their businesses. More than that, the country has grown massively in almost all categories within the last 2-3 years, showing that its campaigns and strategies bear fruit and both the public and the economy are speeding up their digital readiness.
However, it is slightly concerning that many businesses are not adopting the cloud or big data which are - truth be told - the foundation of any successful digital transformation. If Spain wants to keep its momentum, its economy needs to pick up these crucial elements, so companies can not only digitize mere channels and processes but actually transform the way they do business, communicate with customers, and develop their portfolio.
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