For some years now, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) has been used to evaluate and compare the level of digitization of the European Union and to know the gap. The DESI is an index introduced by the European Commission in 2014 to measure the progress of European countries in terms of digitization of the economy and society, in order to converge towards a single digital market.
The indicators used to represent the DESI are:
Each of these four dimensions contains different indicators collected and weighted according to their relevance. 33 indicators were used in the DESI 2021 Report. To aggregate indicators expressed in different units of measurement, a normalization is made between 0 and 100. And it is in this way that it is possible to have an average measure for each dimension and an overall measure, which briefly reports the implementation status of the Digital Agenda.
According to the report, Italy is 20th in terms of overall digitization, a position less than the previous year which places Italy in the lower part of the ranking, far from countries such as Spain, France and Germany. The report on Italy is very harsh on two aspects: Human Capital and Connectivity.
Human capital has been the true Italian Achilles heel since the birth of DESI. In particular:
As for Connectivity, Italy has some critical issues. Italy is in 25th place for fixed broadband and in last place for the use of mobile broadband. The gap is due to the inequalities within the population in the quality of the connection adopted.
Italian companies showed a better performance in the last DESI, gaining 9 positions in the ranking, reaching tenth place in Europe. Good results depend on three indicators
Stationary are digital public services (18th place overall) where two contrasting trends are recorded: availability of public services to citizens and businesses, is comparable to European averages. While, Italy is third from last in terms of internet users who interact online with the PA.
The DESI Index has some limits which, if not known, can generate distorted evaluations and lead to incorrect decisions. The index does not measure the implementation of the Digital Agenda, as it uses outdated data and does not calculate other phenomena, such as that of IT security. Furthermore, it does not give useful information to those who – like Italy – need to identify the areas in which to invest in order to improve digitization.
The Digital Agenda Observatory has developed the Digital Maturity Indexes (DMI), a system of 117 indicators (including the 33 that make up the DESI) grouped into the 4 implementation dimensions of the Digital Agenda:
In addition to the large number of indicators, the characterizing element of the DMI lies in the fact that each dimension is then broken down according to the Enabling Factors (useful for measuring the efforts and investments made to make the area more digital) and the Results Obtained (for monitor the outcome of these digitization initiatives).
What does the DMI say about the state of digitalization in Italy? Out of 27 European countries, Italy is:
Even evaluating the level of digitization through the 117 DMI indicators, Italy does not keep pace with the neighboring countries of the old continent. The indices confirm the DESI messages, at least in terms of ranking. With this tool there is the possibility of knowing how to better interpret the phenomena underlying the delays.
Thanks to DMIs, we can make more complete and precise assessments, offering policy makers a better understanding of the dynamics of development and orientation of digitization interventions.
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