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Finland a digital powerhouse by EU comparison

Finland’s basic digital skills were identified as particular strengths, along with its preparedness in data and cyber security.

Elina Manninen / Keksi Agency

Finland has topped the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), the EU’s annual evaluation of digital performance and digitalisation progress.

This year’s DESI assessed the 27 EU member states in areas including human capital, connectivity, integration of digital technology and digital public services. Finland led the majority of these indicators, with its overall score of 69.6 out of 100 being some distance ahead of the EU average of 52.3. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Ireland rounded out the top five.

The human capital indicator monitors internet user skills and advanced skills and development. Finland was found to lead the EU in everything from the proportion of employed people working as ICT specialists, ICT graduates and companies providing ICT training to their employees. Furthermore, its digital skills level is well above the EU average with 79 per cent of individuals having at least basic digital skills.

Timo Harakka attended the recent inauguration of LUMI in Kajaani. It is the biggest supercomputer in Europe and the world’s third largest. Image: Timo Harakka / Twitter

Finland ranked eighth in connectivity, but was found lacking in fixed network coverage. Whilst the availability of very high-capacity networks (VHCN) is uneven across the country, Finland still has ubiquitous 4G coverage and 5G coverage available in 72 per cent of populated areas.

“Finns make heavy and diverse use of the world’s best mobile data in their everyday lives,” said Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka. “Companies have also started to take advantage of the opportunities offered by 5G. We are managing cyber security and the data economy with even more determination than before so that Finland can maintain its position as a successful digital powerhouse.”

Indeed, Finland ranks first in the integration of digital technology in businesses and e-commerce with some 82 per cent of Finnish SMEs having at least a basic level of digital intensity. This is considerably above the EU average of 55 per cent.

Recent years have seen Finland ranked in the top two positions of the DESI index: second in 2021 and first in both 2019 and 2020 Image: Jussi Hellsten

Furthermore, Finnish businesses continue to embrace advanced technologies, with 66 per cent using cloud solutions and 16 per cent integrating AI technology in their operations. This is twice the EU average for both indicators.

“The use of key digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data, in companies remains too limited in the EU,” the Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, commented before applauding Finland’s top ranking in such.

“The digital transformation supports domestic entrepreneurship and creativity regardless of location. At the same time, the development of digitalisation in the entire EU and in European companies is vital to ensure the union’s competitiveness globally,” he added.

About two-thirds of Finnish companies use cloud solutions and 16 per cent integrate AI technology in their operations. Image: Mikael Ahlfors / Keksi

Finally, Finland ranked second in digital public services. Some notable statistics include 92 per cent of Finnish internet users using e-government services, pre-filled forms (90 per cent) and online service provision for both individuals and businesses (90 per cent and 93 per cent, respectively, compared to EU averages of 75 and 82 per cent). Additionally, Finland also scored above the EU average on open data.

By: James O’Sullivan