According to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group — EU member states Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden — have “warmly embraced the digital revolution”.  Details of the report were outlined in a recent article in the EUObserver by Paul Hofheinz, president and co-founder of the Lisbon Council, a Brussels based think tank and Fredrik Lind, senior partner and managing director of the Boston Consulting Group.

Digital Economy reported to be increasing economic activity

The authors detail how these relatively smaller EU nations – in contrast to some of the EU’s larger member states — are “investing heavily in broadband, ensuring digital skills are taught in schools, even moving much of their public administration over to hyper-user-friendly digital formats”.  They refer to these countries as “digital frontrunners”.  The result has been a marked increase in “not only cross-border commerce and real-time communication, but in the actual economic activity undertaken by those that have embraced the new technology most fully.”

A “fully functioning digital single market”, the report detailed, “could in the frontrunner countries result in a GDP growth rate almost twice that of today” — “translat[ing] to a net gain (after the effects of automation) of between 1.6 to 2.3 million jobs by 2020 in these nations.”

Individuals, governments — faced with the need to adapt

In another report, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has detailed the challenges both individuals as well as governments face in adapting to the changing economic and workforce landscape the digital economy is creating.  In particular, the European Commission has detailed how “47% of [the] EU population is not properly digitally skilled, yet in the near future, 90% of jobs will require some level of digital skills.”

There are a range of options — both formal and informal — for those wishing to develop the skills necessary to thrive in a digital economy.  For example — on the formal side: “The Skills for the Digital Economy programme [in Wales] develops and delivers flexible, industry-led training..for.. creative media employers and freelancers working.”  More informally, the digital economy has also produced what are referred to as “Digital Nomads”: Remote workers who are also often “location independent”.  Many blog about their experiences and the development of their digital skills.  The Making it Anywhere blog, for example, details the skills which are helpful to thriving as a digital nomad.

Asia adapting quickly to digital – Europe can, too

Some of Asia’s economies — Singapore, Taiwan and China in particular — “are on a digital rise, undergoing rapid change with ambitious plans for the future”.  These countries are seeing digital being fueled by investment and friendly regulatory environments — complimented by an explicit desire to lead in the field.  Europe on the other hand faces disagreements on a range of issues related to the full adoption of a digital single market.  Some European tech bodies have recently made the case for a full adoption of the original Digital Single Market plan.

With the track record of economic benefit digital innovation is bringing to Europe’s “digital frontrunners” — it would, as Hofheinz and Lind argue – be ideal to more quickly resolve the disputes surrounding it and accelerate the transformation.  Those seeking to adapt to the digital economy — can also actively work to develop or retain the skills required to thrive in it.

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Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley provides custom communications services to professional services firms operating in international markets.

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