ICT usage in enterprises (isoc_e)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

G4: Innovation and information society

1.5. Contact mail address

2920 Luxembourg LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 01/09/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 17/12/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 17/12/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Data given in this domain are collected on a yearly basis by the National Statistical Institutes or Ministries and are based on the annual Eurostat Model Questionnaires on ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) usage and e-commerce in enterprises.

Large part of the data collected are used in the context of the follow up of the Digital Single Market process (Monitoring the Digital Economy & Society 2016-2021). This conceptual framework follows the 2011 - 2015 benchmarking framework, the i2010 Benchmarking Framework and the eEurope 2005 Action Plan.

The aim of the European ICT usage surveys is to collect and disseminate harmonised and comparable information on the use of Information and Communication Technologies in enterprises and e-commerce at European level.


The characteristics to be provided are drawn from the following list of subjects:

  • ICT systems and their usage in enterprises,
  • use of the Internet and other electronic networks by enterprises,
  • e-commerce,
  • e-business processes and organisational aspects,
  • ICT competence in the enterprise and the need for ICT skills,
  • barriers to the use of ICT, the Internet and other electronic networks, e-commerce and e-business processes,
  • ICT security and trust,
  • access to and use of the Internet and other network technologies for connecting objects and devices (Internet of Things),
  • access to and use of technologies providing the ability to connect to the Internet or other networks from anywhere at any time (ubiquitous connectivity).


  • by size class,
  • by NACE categories,
  • by region (until 2010)
3.2. Classification system


3.3. Coverage - sector

NACE Rev 2 (as of 2009, back-casting for the years 2003-2008)

C10-C18 Manufacture of products based on: food, beverages, tobacco, textile, leather, wood, pulp and paper; publishing and printing
C19-C23 Manufacture of petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, rubber, plastic products and of other non-metallic mineral products
C24-C25 Manufacture of basic metals and fabricated metal products, except machinery and equipment
C26-C33 Manufacture of computers, electric and optical products, electrical equipment, machinery and equipment n.e.c, motor vehicles, other transport equipment, furniture, other manufacturing, repair and installation of machinery and equipment
D35-E39 Production and distribution of electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning; water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities
F41-F43 Construction
G45-G47 Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles
H49-H53 Transport and storage
I55 Accommodation
I56 Food and beverage service activities
J58-J63 Information and communication
L68 Real estate activities
L69-M74 Professional, scientific and technical activities, except veterinary activities
N77-N82 Administrative and support service activities
N79 Travel agency; tour operator reservation service and related activities
S95.1 Repair of computers and communication equipment (added since 2010)

In 2010, NACE Rev 2 group S95.1 referring to "Repair of computers and communication equipment " was added to the scope for the enterprise survey and is hence included in the 2010 European aggregates (10_C10_S951_XK, total of all economic activities covered without financial sector). Group 95.1 was not included in EU aggregates of previous years (10_C10_N82_XK, total of all economic activities without financial sector and without group 95.1). Comparability of 2010 EU aggregates (10_C10_N82_XK, excluding the group 95.1) with previous years is limited due to confidential data that are not included when calculating the aggregates.

Optional 2011-2013, not covered starting from 2014
K64.19+K64.92+K65.1+K65.2+K66.12+K66.19 Other monetary intermediation, other credit granting, insurance, reinsurance, security and commodity contracts brokerage, other activities auxiliary to financial services, except insurance and pension funding

NACE Rev 1.1 (until 2009) 

DA + DB + DC + DD + DE Manufacture of products based on: food, beverages, tobacco, textile, leather, wood, pulp and paper; publishing and printing
DF + DG + DH Manufacture of coke, refined petroleum products, chemical products, man-made fibres, rubber and plastics
DI + DJ Manufacture of other non-metallic mineral products, basic metals and fabricated metal products
DK + DL + DM + DN Manufacture of machinery and electrical, optical and transport equipment and other manufacturing n.e.c.
45 Construction
50 Sale, maintenance and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; retail sale of automotive fuel
51 Wholesale trade and commission trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles
52 Retail trade and repair of personal and household goods
55.1 + 55.2 Hotels and other provision of short-stay accommodation
60 + 61 + 62 + 63 Transport and storage
64 Post and telecommunications
72 Computer and related activities
70 + 71 + 73 + 74 Real estate, renting and business activities except computer activities
92.1 + 92.2 Motion picture, video, radio and television activities
65.12 + 65.22 Monetary intermediation and other credit granting, except central banking
66.01 + 66.03 Insurance, except compulsory social security

22 Publishing, printing and reproduction of recorded media
40 + 41 Electricity, gas and water supply
55.3 + 55.4 + 55.5 Restaurants, bars, canteens and catering
92.3 to 92.7 News agencies, sporting and libraries, archives, museums and other cultural and recreational activities
93 Textile washing and dry-cleaning, hairdressing and other beauty treatment, funeral activities, physical well-being activities, etc.
67.12 + 67.13 + 67.2 Activities auxiliary to financial intermediation, except administration of financial markets

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The model questionnaire on ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises provides a large variety of variables covering among others the following areas:

  • General information about ICT systems
  • Access to and use of the Internet
  • E-commerce and e-business
  • e-skills, the mobile use of the Internet, cloud computing, software as a service, Internet of things, Big data, etc.

All variables collected in the framework of this survey are published in the comprehensive database (ACCESS format) on the dedicated section Digital economy and society. An overview of all variables collected can be consulted and downloaded via the descriptive documents on the dedicated section of Digital economy and society at the end of the page.

See 3.6 for the definition of the statistical population.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit is the enterprise.

3.6. Statistical population

The survey population consists of enterprises with 10 or more persons employed (optionally covered: 1-9 persons employed until 2016, 0-9 persons employed since 2017). Size classes according to number of persons employed: 10-49 (small enterprises),  50-249 (medium enterprises),  250+ (large enterprises), 10+ (total).

3.7. Reference area

EU-Member States, Candidate countries, Iceland and Norway.

Data for the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Korea have been supplied via the OECD with no validation by Eurostat. Methodological differences are expected.

3.8. Coverage - Time

Time series (annual data) are available from 2002 onwards.

The contents of the model questionnaire (modules and questions) changes every year to measure the development of the use of ICT. The response burden for responding enterprises must not exceed a defined threshold. Consequently certain questions are asked only on a biennial or triennial basis; this explains why certain indicators do not have long time series.

An overview of the availability of variables per year is published on the dedicated section Digital economy and society under Related descriptive documents in the document Variables collected - ICT usage and e-Commerce in enterprises NACE Rev 2. 

3.9. Base period

Not applicable

4. Unit of measure Top

The most common units published are
% of enterprises, % of persons employed, % of turnover.

All units and breakdowns available are listed in the descriptive documents on the dedicated section of Digital economy and society at the end of the page.

5. Reference Period Top

In general, data refer to the current situation at survey period, or where specified to the calendar year prior to the survey period (e.g. variables relating to e-commerce or on ICT specialists). For details see Eurostat Model questionnaires and in case of deviations Country specific notes.

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Indicators from these surveys are among others used for benchmarking purposes (see under point 3.1). A set of benchmarking indicators using statistical information is to be provided through the ESS.

Regulation 808/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 concerning Community statistics on the information society. The objective of this framework regulation is to establish a common framework for the systematic production of Community statistics on the digital economy and society. Annual implementing regulations allow for some flexibility in the content of the surveys. All legal acts related to this data collection.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Data are transmitted via eDamis (encrypted) and delivered to a secure environment where these are treated. Only a restricted number of persons have access to this secure environment.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

The target is December of the survey year.

8.2. Release calendar access

The planned release dates will be announced some weeks in advance on the dedicated section Digital economy and society (after having informed the WG members).

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably. The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

Annual news releases online in December of the survey year or January of the following year, as well as news releases to specific occasions (eg Internet day)

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Statistics Explained articles, the digital publication and other general publications, see the dedicated section of Digital economy and society under Publications.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Please consult free data online (Eurobase tables)

See also below.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Only aggregated data are transmitted to Eurostat.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

All variables collected in the framework of this survey are available in the comprehensive database (ACCESS format) on the dedicated section Digital economy and society.

An overview of the variables collected can be consulted/downloaded from the dedicated section Digital economy and society, see 'Variables collected - ICT usage and e-Commerce in enterprises NACE Rev 2' and 'Variables collected - ICT usage and e-Commerce in enterprises NACE Rev 1'.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The Methodological Manual used for the survey on ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises is annually compiled by Eurostat in co-operation with Member States.  Definitions and explanations can also be found in the Glossary of the annual Eurostat Model questionnaires.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

National Statistical Institutes provide Eurostat with Quality reports comprising general methodological information of the survey, on statistical unit, target and frame population, sampling design, response and non-response, data processing and sampling errors. 

Summaries of these annual reports are published in the Country specific notes and overview tables in the Methodological manual.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

The Methodological Manual provides guidelines and standards for the implementation of the surveys in the Member States. It is updated every year according to the changed contents of the model questionnaires.

Furthermore, the use of the Eurostat model questionnaire improves comparability of the results of these ICT usage surveys.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

ICT usage statistics have overall good quality. The surveys are considered being a reliable source applying high standards with regard to the methodology. Like other surveys, the ICT usage surveys are based on a sample of the population. The results are therefore subject to the usual types of errors associated with random sampling.

Since the beginning of the surveys, National Statistical Institutes provide annual Quality reports describing the general and some more specific methodological characteristics related to the various stages of the national surveys in the enterprises (e.g. survey type, statistical units and target population, stratification and sampling design, information on item and unit non-response, grossing-up procedures, standard error calculations, etc). These reports are survey execution reports and allow to assess the survey carried out and to detect possible points for improvement.

Furthermore, since the 2011 survey the EU standard error is calculated for a selection of variables and breakdowns (see 13.2).

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

Users are considered to be the most important, who make most use of the data and contribute most to identifying/defining the topics to be covered. Hence, main users are consulted regularly (hearings and task forces with Commission services) for their needs already at a very early stage; also informal contacts with relevant users take place. User needs are taken into account throughout the whole discussion process of the model questionnaires.

Large part of the data collected are used in the context of the 2016 - 2021 benchmarking framework (endorsed by Digital Agenda High Level Group in December 2015) for the Digital Agenda Scoreboard, Europe's strategy for a flourishing digital economy by 2020.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

Well established contacts within the Commission and with the OECD allow us a clear picture about the key users' satisfaction as to the following quality aspects: good accuracy and reliability of results, very good timeliness and punctuality, satisfactory accessibility, good clarity and comparability over time and between countries, very good completeness and relevance.

See also the Rolling Review of the Information society statistics published in 2011

12.3. Completeness

Completeness is assesses annually in the legal compliance assessment. Very good completeness of variables and breakdowns. Incomplete data tables may be due to biennial or triennial questions in the Model questionnaire (MQ) or the optionality of question (response burden).

Changes of questions in the MQ are required by the evolving situation of information and communication technologies. Changed questions require changing the indicator codes, which break the time series and let tables appear incomplete.

A selection of ICT usage results are released in Eurobase tables. All results are disseminated in the comprehensive databases on the dedicated section Digital economy and society on the Eurostat website.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

In general good accuracy and reliability of the results. Standard errors are calculated and reported for a selection of indicators and breakdowns (see below).

For accuracy measures see also Methodological Manual, for example in chapter about Sampling design or Data processing.

13.2. Sampling error

The National Statistical Institutes provide Eurostat with the estimated standard error for a selection of indicators and breakdowns: three long term indicators for all detailed breakdowns, several indicators related to new and other important subjects (both groups weighted by number of enterprises) and three indicators weighted by persons employed or turnover.

Based on these national standard errors, Eurostat calculates and publishes the European standard errors.

13.3. Non-sampling error

National Statistical Institutes report in the annual execution reports about sampling and non-sampling errors and methods used for their treatment; overviews of non-response patterns are available in the Methodological Manual (see Unit non-response).  

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data are delivered to Eurostat in the fourth quarter of the survey year and are released before the end of the same year (week 49-50).

14.2. Punctuality

Release dates are published on the dedicated website after the October Working group. In the last years, ICT usage results have been released as announced in the publised dates.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

The model questionnaire is generally used in the Member States. Occasionally, due to (small) differences in translation, in reference periods, in the used survey vehicle, in non-response treatment or different routing through the questionnaire, some results for some countries may be of reduced comparability. In these cases, notes are added in the metadata in the Variable specific notes (link in Annexes). 

15.2. Comparability - over time

For some indicators very good comparability over time is achieved (e.g. internet access) since 2003 while for others it is satisfactory (e.g. e-commerce). Restricted comparability over time is also a consequence of necessary changes in definitions in order to measure the development of ICT.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Coherence with business statistics (SBS):

The coverage of SBS in terms of economic activities is broader as it covers B to N and S95, while the ICT usage survey covers sections C - N, except section K and M75 veterinary activities, and from S95 only S95.1. In terms of size classes, the ICT usage survey covers enterprises with at least 10 persons employed, enterprises with less than 10 persons employed are optional. These size classes are available from SBS at that detailed level for comparison.

The source for the frame populations for the ICT usage surveys is generally the Business register. A snapshot is usually taken in the last months preceeding the ICT survey. Following the feedback from responding enterprises, this snapshot of the frame population is generally updated (for deaths of enterprises or changed economic activities)  during the survey. Population data of Structural Business statistics are published only 18 months after the reference period while ICT results are published in the year of the ICT survey. Coherence calculations have been carried out in 2013 for the background variables population (number of enterprises), number of persons employed and turnover for 2010. Turnover used in the ICT survey refers to the previous calendar year, like the other questions referring to e-commerce. Some NSI report preliminary turnover data which may be revised as soon as SBS turnover becomes available.

The mentioned background variables are used in the ICT survey as denominators for the calculation of ratios, only ratios are disseminated for the ICT usage survey.

15.4. Coherence - internal

Coherence between related questions of the model questionnaire is checked through detailed validation rules after data have been transmitted to Eurostat. If inconsistencies in data are detected, reporting countries may be asked to verify and revise their results (sometimes also for previous periods).

16. Cost and Burden Top

During the negotiation of the model questionnaires with data providers and users, the number of questions and response burden are considered. 

In the 2010 survey one optional question on response burden ("Time needed to fill out the questionnaire") was included. On the basis of 19 countries that had asked this question, it took on average 40 minutes to fill out this questionnaire (ranging from less than 20 to more than 80 minutes).

143000 enterprises out of 1.5 million enterprises in the EU participated in the survey (2012).

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

EU aggregates are compiled when the available countries represent 60% of the population and 55% of the number of countries defining the aggregate.  When further national data become available they are automatically included in the existing aggregate. Hence Eurostat aggregates may change due to the arrival of further data over and above the 60%/55% rule.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Data transmitted by the reporting countries to Eurostat undergo detailed verifications by applying automated validation procedures at the level of variables and breakdowns. The second step of data verification consists in the time series checks. Before dissemination, results for the main indicators (for example the benchmarking indicators) or of new questions are compared across countries.

If after these verifications and acceptance and publication of data inconsistencies should be found, reporting countries are asked to verify and revise their results. Users are informed about revisions (recent updates in comprehensive databases, more detailed information in the Excel file attached to the ACCESS database).

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Data on ICT usage and e-commerce collected by EEA countries and candidate countries are based on surveys.  Data are collected by National Statistical Institutes based on Eurostat's annual model questionnaires. 

Sampling characteristics per country are presented in overview tables in the Methodological manual (annex). The sampling method is generally stratified random sampling which allows to obtain representative results for the necessary NACE and size groupings.

Details on national surveys (per country) are published in Country specific notes Enterprise and on indicators in Variable specific notes.

Data for the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Korea have been supplied via the OECD in ratio format with no validation by Eurostat.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Data are collected by NSIs based on Eurostat's model questionnaire on an annual basis.

18.3. Data collection

Data are generally collected through self-administered mail surveys or online web questionnaires (see overview of data collection methods in the Methodological Manual).

18.4. Data validation

Data transmitted by the reporting countries to Eurostat undergo detailed verifications by applying automated validation procedures at the level of variables and breakdowns. The second step of data verification consists in the time series checks. Before dissemination, results for the main indicators (for example the benchmarking indicators) are compared across countries.

18.5. Data compilation

On the basis of aggregated survey data transmitted by NSIs, Eurostat computes ratios. Only ratios are disseminated.

Results are generally weighted by the number of enterprises. Turnover/purchases weighting is used for turnover/purchases related questions. Employment weighting is used for questions on persons employed and in addition to enterprise weighting for certain questions concerning general information about ICT systems, the use of the internet as well as for some questions relating to e-commerce.

EU aggregates are compiled when the available countries represent 60% of the population and 55% of the number of countries defining the aggregate. National data flagged confidential are not included in EU aggregates. Aggregates are only calculated using available data. No estimates are  made for missing data except if provided by reporting countries.

18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable

19. Comment Top

see annexes

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
Legal basis
Methodological Manuals
Model questionnaires
Country specific information
Standard errors for EU aggregates
Metadata_reference population of enterprises
Where to find which indicator in database tables on Eurobase
Digital Intensity Index description
Footnotes to enterprise survey results NACE rev2