The Digital Economy and Society Index compiled by the European Union shows us that the Nordic region is a leading force in digital within Europe. Although there are, of course, differences across the region, many of the same strengths can be seen across the board.
Active cooperation between public and private sector and far-sighted digital policies tends to be the cornerstone of success across the region underpinned by good connectivity and network, enabling widespread citizen access, and a population with high digital use and trust.
Public and private sector digital partnership
The public sector across the Nordic countries has long been aware of the vital role it plays in supporting the digital economy. There are long-term strategies and investments in place across all countries, driving the digital economy.
In Denmark, huge investments were made in 2018 to support initiatives relating to digital growth. Three objectives were set out: support the digitisation of trade and industry, provide the best conditions for the digital transformation of businesses, and ensure that Danes are digitally prepared. They have been widely successful across the board.
Sweden has invested heavily in ensuring its population are digitally savvy and educated. This has been vital to their success in leading digital initiatives, as has their great connectivity cross-country. When it comes to enterprise, Sweden has a digitally mature economy but there is a difference between large organizations, which tend to be very mature and the SME sector. More is being done by the public sector to encourage digital transformation in SMEs, including vouchers for consultancy. There is clearly agreement across Government that improving and maintaining their lead in digital is important to Sweden’s economic prowess.
Digital transformation of the public sector
Across the Nordics, public sector is taking a citizen-centric approach to services and putting more of the control and onus into the hands of their citizens. This has had a carrot and stick impact when it comes to citizen use and uptake of digital. Moving services online for all those who don’t opt out means that citizens must learn to use digital services. Education programmes are available across most Nordic countries to ensure inclusion.
Norway has transformed its approach to public sector through digital technologies, making it more efficient, and data-driven, enabling it to respond to the changing needs of citizens. Denmark has established e-Boks, a secure digital mail system used by the public sector to communicate with citizens more effectively and at reduced cost.
In Sweden, a digital mailbox is also widely used by citizens to receive information from public authorities, and they are one of the highest users of e-Government services in the EU, largely due to a trusted and highly secure identity process.
Trust in digital
One reason for the Nordics successful digital economy is citizen trust in both digital technologies and in their Governments and public sector. This has enabled progress in both the economy and rolling out e-services to citizens.
Maintaining this high level of trust must be the priority for the future of digital across the Nordics. As we move towards automation, AI, and ML technologies it’s vital that the security of citizen data and its appropriate use continues to be a cornerstone of digital strategy.
When it comes to digital leadership, there is much to be learned from the Nordic region on building a strong digital foundation through network, skills, and education. Nordic Governments have worked hard to support their economies through well-executed digital strategies and by maintaining a high level of citizen trust. One thing is for sure, their clout in this area exceeds their size!