As a joint project of bidt and the SZ-Institut of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the bidt-Digitalbarometer.international compares the state of digital transformation in Germany to that of Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Spain and Great Britain. For this purpose, people in those seven countries were surveyed on user behaviour, e-government, digital competencies, digital transformation of the working world and artificial intelligence.
Digital transformation is evident in all areas of life, whether at work, in private life or contact with the public administration. This is accompanied by major challenges for the economy, society, and politics because everyone has to adapt to the changing circumstances. In this context, digital competencies play a prominent role because only those with sufficient digital skills can participate in digital life.
The bidt-Digitalbarometer.international provides data on digital transformation from population surveys in six European countries and allows a comparison with the original bidt-SZ-Digitalbarometer 2022 for Germany. In Germany, 9,044 people were surveyed in August and September 2021. Between November 2022 and January 2023, data was collected in Austria, Finland, France, Italy, Spain, and the Great Britain, with between 1,157 and 1,734 people surveyed per country. The bidt-SZ-Digitalbarometer 2022 and the bidt-Digitalbarometer.international allow representative statements about the respective resident population aged 14 and over.
Usage behaviour and e-government
Germany ranks in the middle of the surveyed countries regarding Internet use. It is the front-runner in landline telephony but brings up the rear in smartphone use, online job applications and the use of online medical and therapeutic services. Germany is also behind in carrying out a complete administrative process online. However, a comparatively large number of respondents in Germany say they quickly find favour with new technical developments.
Digital skills were measured using a self-assessment test (DigCompSAT) based on the European Reference Framework for Digital Competences (DigComp).
The population in Germany, with Spain and Italy, forms the bottom group regarding digital competencies. Detailed analyses show that in Germany, digital competencies are usually more dependent on socio-structural factors than in other countries. There are hardly any differences in a cross-country comparison for groups of people with high digital competencies. However, when focusing on older people, people with lower incomes and women, German respondents fall behind the corresponding comparison groups in other countries in terms of digital competencies. This means that the digital competence gap is particularly pronounced in Germany.
Digital transformation of the working world
Compared to other countries, in Germany, more employees see digitalisation as an opportunity for their company.
At the same time, compared to the other countries, more employees state that too little attention is paid to digitalisation in their own company. However, relatively few Germans are afraid of losing their job in the course of digital transformation. Also, German employees rate the opportunities for further training on digitalisation in their own companies as relatively poor.
In Germany, the risk-opportunity assessment of artificial intelligence is relatively balanced in a cross-country comparison. Particularly in the areas of recognising illnesses and autonomous driving, the proportion of those in Germany who predominantly see opportunities in the use of artificial intelligence is greater than in the other countries surveyed. The self-assessed level of knowledge about artificial intelligence is highest in Germany and Finland.
Fields of action
Digital transformation must increasingly be understood as a pluralistic process involving society, in which people can actively participate. This includes, among other things, accelerating the provision of digital public administration services, whereby a focus must also be placed on the users’ perspective.
In the area of digital competencies, the importance of low-threshold learning opportunities accessible to all individuals is evident to counteract social inequality and the digital divide. Against the backdrop of an ageing society in Germany, a key focus must be on strengthening the digital competencies of older people. Concerning the shortage of skilled workers, another main focus must be lifelong learning and increased training activities.
Against the background of the study results, supranational regulatory efforts of the European AI Act with a risk-based approach are to be welcomed in principle. However, it will be important to take into account the rapid pace of AI development through a suitably flexible regulatory framework.
Comparing your digital skills
Take the comparison test on the website of our cooperation partner, SZ. Determine your competence value, compare it with our results and find out where your strengths and weaknesses lie!