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Demography of Europe – A growing population until 2020

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Technology uptake in businesses

Integrating digital technologies into all areas of a business enables companies to improve their products and services, and to gain competitiveness, for example by shifting their sales online.

The EU has set itself 2 main goals for the digital transformation of businesses by 2030: more than 90% of SMEs should reach at least a basic level of digital intensity, and 75% of EU companies should use cloud computing services, perform big data analysis or use artificial intelligence.

The digital intensity of businesses is monitored by the digital intensity index (DII), which measures the use of 12 different digital technologies by businesses, for example using artificial intelligence or making e-sales.

The index scores businesses depending on how many digital technologies they use:

  • 0-3: very low
  • 4-6: low
  • 7-9: high
  • 10-12: very high

A minimum score of 4 means that the business has a basic level of digital intensity. Therefore, a basic level includes all businesses with a low, high and very high level of digital intensity, excluding the very low level.

Nearly 70% of EU SMEs reach basic digital intensity

In 2022, 70% of all EU businesses reached a basic level of digital intensity. The share for SMEs was 69%, around 20 percentage points (pp) below the EU 2030 target, while for large businesses it stood at 98%.

Large businesses had a bigger share for very high (30%) and high digital intensity (54%) compared with only 4% of SMEs with a very high level and 27% with a high level of digital intensity. Most of the SMEs recorded low (38%) or very low (31%) digital intensity levels.

The proportion of SMEs with a basic level of digital intensity ranged from 41% in Greece and 47% in Bulgaria to 89% in Denmark and 90% in Finland.

41% of EU businesses use the cloud, mostly for e-mails

Cloud computing services enable businesses to access computing resources hosted by third parties on the internet, instead of building or expanding their own IT infrastructure. This represents a significant advantage for enterprises, since setting up their own infrastructure would entail hardware and software development.

In 2021, 41% of businesses in the EU bought cloud computing services. Large businesses are more likely to opt for cloud solutions compared with SMEs. In 2021, 72% of large businesses bought cloud services, while 40% of SMEs did.

Of the businesses using cloud computing, the majority (79%) relied on the cloud to host their e-mail systems, 66% used it for storing files and 61% for office software, such as the word processor and spreadsheets.

The uptake of the cloud varies significantly across the EU countries, with the highest shares in Finland and Sweden (both 75%), the Netherlands and Denmark (both 65%).

8% of EU businesses use AI technologies

A smart technology, which is developing quickly, is artificial intelligence (AI). AI gives machines and systems the capability to learn and make decisions with some degree of autonomy to achieve specific goals.

In 2021, 8% of businesses in the EU used AI. As with cloud computing, its use was more common in large businesses (28%) than in SMEs (7%).

Among the EU countries, the use of AI technologies ranged from 1% in Romania and 3% in Greece, Cyprus, Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria to 17% in Portugal and 24% in Denmark.

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