In our last post (Which Countries are Leading Digital), we highlighted evidence from several studies showing that the UK was falling behind many of our international competitors in a number of key measures of digital readiness.

One of these studies was the 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) published by the EU. While the UK remained above the EU average in key measures such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology, we were growing at a slower rate than the average. The Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden and Finland, together with the Netherlands were leading the way, while Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria and Portugal were the fastest growing.

DESI 2017, published last week, confirms this deteriorating position.

While the UK continued to improve its digital performance across most key indicators, its relative position has declined from an overall ranking of 6th position in 2016 to 7th position currently.

The decline was accounted for by two main indicators – ‘Integration of Digital Technology’, a drop in the UK’s ranking from 14th to 15th position; and ‘Digital Public Services', where the UK experienced a substantial decline from 15th to 18th position.

Contrary to much public sector spin, the UK is not a world leading digital nation. We are very much positioned in the ‘Lagging Ahead’ category – a group of countries with good digital performance but whose current rate of development is now slow. As such, we are lagging in comparison to the progress of the EU as a whole.

Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have the most advanced digital economies in the EU followed by Luxembourg, Belgium, the UK and Ireland. Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy have the lowest scores on the DESI.

As we become preoccupied with BITs (Brexit, Immigration and Trump), rather than BYTES, i would fully expect a further decline in our DESI ranking in 2018.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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