Statistics Explained

Digital economy and society statistics - enterprises

Data extracted in January 2022

Planned article update: January 2023

Highlights

In 2021, 59 % of EU enterprises used social media.

In 2021, 41 % of EU enterprises used cloud computing services.

During 2020, 1 in 5 EU enterprises made electronic sales (e-sales).

The share of EU enterprises using internet connections of more than 1 Gb/s was 10 % in 2021.

ICT POSTER 20-01-2022 resized.png

This article presents recent statistical data on several different aspects of the digital economy and society in the European Union (EU), focusing on the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) by enterprises.

Progress in the development of the digital economy is regarded as essential to improve the competitiveness of the EU’s economy. ICTs have quickly become an integral part of how enterprises function: indeed, their extensive use has had a profound impact on how businesses are run, touching upon a range of aspects such as how they organise their production or service provision processes and their internal or external communication.

This article presents recent statistics on the use of the internet by enterprises; the functionalities provided by enterprises’ websites; the types of social media used by enterprises and the use of e-business applications. Other important topics in the article reflect the adoption of some advanced technologies like cloud computing, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence by EU enterprises. The article closes with information on e-commerce.

Full article

Access and use of the internet

Enterprises connected to the internet via fixed broadband

In 2021, the vast majority (94 %) of EU enterprises with at least 10 employees and self-employed persons used a fixed broadband connection to access the internet (see Figure 1). The share was even higher for medium and large enterprises, where almost all enterprises reported to connect to the internet via fixed broadband.

Figure 1: Enterprises with fixed broadband connection, by size class and speed, EU, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ci_it_en2)

Almost one quarter of large enterprises used internet connections faster than 1Gb/s

With almost all enterprises connected to the internet via broadband, the speed of these connections still deserves attention, as the use of other more advanced technologies by the enterprises often relies on high speed of the internet. In 2021, 13 % of enterprises in the EU had an internet connection speed that was below 30 Mb/s, with a higher shares having a connection that was in the range of ≥ 30 Mb/s but < 100 Mb/s (29 %) and in the range of ≥ 100 Mb/s but < 500 Mb/s (also 29 %). One in eight enterprises (13 %) had a connection in the range of ≥ 500 Mb/s but < 1 Gb/s, while the fastest internet connections (at least 1 Gb/s) were used by a tenth (10 %) of enterprises in the EU. As can be seen from Figure 1, the share of large enterprises using the fastest connection speeds (≥ 1 Gb/s) was almost three times higher than the figure recorded for small enterprises.

In 2021, 78 % of EU enterprises had a website

The use of ICT has the potential to make significant changes to the way enterprises are run, the adoption of ICT-based solutions within business processes is often referred to using the generic term of ‘e-business’. Figure 2 presents information in relation to one of the most basic types of e-business that is used by enterprises, namely having a website. In 2021, more than three quarters (78 %) of enterprises in the EU had a website, with a much higher share for large enterprises (94 %) compared with small enterprises (75 %). The most popular functionality provided by enterprises’ websites was related to the description of goods and services and price lists (62 % of enterprises) as well as to links or references to the social media profiles of enterprises (41 %).

Figure 2: Enterprises having a website, by functionality and size class, EU, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ciweb)

Enterprises using social media

Enterprises use social media for image building or for marketing purposes, for gaining insights from customers or communicating within or outside the enterprise or for recruiting. The four most widely known categories of social media include: social networks (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing); corporate blogs or microblogs such as Twitter; multimedia content-sharing websites (e.g. YouTube, Instagram, Flickr) and wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools.

Social networks are used by more than half of EU enterprises

As shown in Figure 3, 59 % of EU enterprises used any type of social media in 2021. Social networks were the most popular social media used by 56 % of the enterprises in the EU, followed by the multimedia content-sharing websites, which were used by 28 % of enterprises. Corporate blogs and wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools were less popular and were used by 11 % and respectively 6 % of EU enterprises. In 2021, the share of large enterprises employing 250 or more people, which used any type of social media stood at 83 % and was almost 30 percentage points (pp) higher than the figure recorded for small enterprises employing 10 to 49 people (48 %). More than three quarters of EU large enterprises (83 %) had an account and used some kind of social networks. By contrast, slightly more than half of small enterprises (53 %) used social networks. Multimedia content-sharing websites were used by 55 % of the large enterprises compared with 25 % of the small EU enterprises (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Enterprises using social media, by type and size class, EU, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_cismt)

Figure 4 presents the use of social media by enterprises in the Member States. Social media was most popular among enterprises in Malta, where 84 % of enterprises reported to use any category of social media. In six other EU Member States (Denmark, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Sweden, Belgium and Finland) the recorded figures were higher than 70 %. The share of enterprises using social media was less than 40 % in Romania (36 %) and Bulgaria (39 %) .

Figure 4: Enterprises using any social media, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_cismt)

E-business integration

E-business integration refers to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) by enterprises to run, integrate and improve their business processes, share and exchange information internally, or communicate with business partners and customers.

The sharing and exchange of information electronically and automatically between different business functions within the enterprise is implemented using software applications for enterprise resource planning (ERP). Furthermore, the integration and management of interactions with customers is implemented by the use of customer relationship management (CRM) applications.

More than one in three enterprises use enterprise resource planning (ERP) software applications

The percentage of EU enterprises that used ERP software applications reached 38 % in 2021. The adoption of ERP software applications was in particular low for small enterprises with a share of 33 %, which was almost two times lower than the percentage recorded for medium (62 %) and more than two and half times lower than the percentage for large enterprises (81 %). Customer relationship management (CRM) applications were used by over one-third (35 %) of EU enterprises in 2021. The share of small enterprises using CRM applications stood at 31 % and was comparable to the use of ERP software. The adoption of CRM applications among large enterprises (65 %) was 16 percentage points lower compared to the use of ERP (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Adoption of e-business applications in enterprises, by size class, EU, 2021
(% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_iip)

In 2021, more than half of the enterprises in Belgium, Portugal and Denmark had an ERP software package to share information between different functional areas. On the other hand, ERP software was used by less than 20 % of enterprises in Romania (17 %) (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Enterprises having ERP software package, 2021
(% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_iip)

Figure 7 presents the adoption levels of CRM applications in the Member States. The highest share of enterprises using CRM was recorded in Belgium (54 %), the Netherlands (52 %), Austria and Finland (46 %). The adoption of CRM was at the lowest level in Hungary (15 %), Romania and Bulgaria (both 17 %), Czechia and Latvia (both 18 %).

Figure 7: Enterprises using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solutions, 2021
(% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_iip)

Cloud Computing

Instead of building or expanding their own IT infrastructure, enterprises can buy computing resources hosted by third parties on the internet. This pool of resources is most commonly known as ‘cloud computing’ and includes flexible, on demand access to services like software, computing power, storage capacity, etc.

Cloud computing services used by 41 % of enterprises in the EU

In 2021, 41 % of enterprises in the EU with more than 10 employees and self-employed persons reported that they used cloud computing services (see Figure 8). The adoption of cloud computing was at a very high level among large enterprises with a share of 72 % of enterprises. Almost one third of EU enterprises (32 %) relied on a cloud solution for their e-mail. More than one in four enterprises (27 %) used the cloud for storing files. 25 % reported using it for office software (e.g. word processors, spreadsheets) and 24 % for security software applications, while some 19 % used it to host their database.

Most importantly, via the cloud, enterprises have access to relatively more sophisticated end customer software applications, for finances/accounting (19 %), for managing information about their customers (customer relationship management – CRM) (11 %) and for planning their processes and resources (enterprise resource planning - ERP) (10 %). In addition, 9 % reported using the (usually high-performance) cloud computing platforms for computing power in order to run their own business software applications. One in ten enterprises (10 %) bought cloud computing services as computing platform providing a hosted environment for application development, testing or deployment.

Figure 8: Use of cloud computing services in enterprises, by type of cloud service and size class, EU, 2021
(% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_cicce_use)

In 2021, the use of cloud computing varied significantly among EU Member States. The highest shares were reported in Sweden and Finland (both 75 %), and the Netherlands and Denmark (both 65 %). On the other hand, cloud computing services were used by fewer than one in five enterprises in Bulgaria (13 %) and Romania (14 %) (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Enterprises using cloud computing services, 2021
(% enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_cicce_use)

Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to interconnected devices or systems, often called “smart” devices or systems. They collect and exchange data and can be monitored or remotely controlled via the internet.

Internet of Things devices used by almost half of large EU enterprises

In 2021, more than a quarter (29 %) of enterprises in the EU with more than 10 employees and self-employed persons used internet-connected devices or systems that can be monitored or controlled remotely via the internet. The share of large enterprises (48 %) reported using IoT devices or systems was higher compared with medium-sized enterprises (37 %) and small enterprises (26 %). IoT devices were mostly used for premises' security with 21 % of enterprises reported using interconnected devices or systems for this purpose. To a lesser extent, IoT devices were used for energy consumption management (9 % of enterprises) and for providing condition-based maintenance (7 %).


Figure 10: Enterprises using IoT devices, by type and size class, EU, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_iot)

Among EU Member States, Austria recorded the highest share of enterprises (51 %) that used internet-connected devices or systems with remote monitoring or control via the internet in 2021, followed by Slovenia (49 %), Finland (40 %) and Sweden (40 %). In contrast, less than 20 % of enterprises in Romania (11 %), Bulgaria (15 %), Estonia (17 %) and Poland (19 %) used such internet-connected devices or systems.

Figure 11: Enterprises using IoT devices, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_iot)

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence refers to systems that use technologies such as: text mining, computer vision, speech recognition, natural language generation, machine learning, deep learning to gather and/or use data to predict, recommend or decide, with varying levels of autonomy, the best action to achieve specific goals. Artificial intelligence systems can be purely software based, or embedded in devices.

Less than 1 in 10 EU enterprises used AI technologies in 2021

In 2021, 8 % of of enterprises in the EU with more than 10 employees and self-employed persons reported using one or several of the following AI technologies:

  • AI technologies for performing analysis of written language
  • AI technologies for machine learning (e.g. deep learning)
  • AI technologies automating different workflows or assisting in decision making
  • AI technologies for converting spoken language into machine-readable format
  • AI technologies for identifying objects or persons based on images
  • AI technologies for generating written or spoken language
  • AI technologies enabling physical movement of machines via autonomous decisions based on observation of surroundings.

The share of large enterprises using these AI technologies stood at 28 % and was significantly higher than the value recorded for small enterprises (6 %). The difference might be explained by the complexity of the implementation of the AI technologies within the enterprise.

Although at a low level, EU enterprises used most AI technologies for performing analysis of written language, AI technologies for machine learning and AI technologies automating different workflows (all 3 %). Again, the share of large enterprises that reported using these types of AI technologies was 3 to 5 times higher reaching 15 % for the AI technologies for performing analysis of written language (Figure 12).

Figure 12: Enterprises using AI technologies, by type and size class, EU, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_ai)

Among EU Member States, AI technologies were used by 24 % of enterprises in Denmark and by more than 15 % of enterprises in Portugal (17 %) and Finland (16 %). The take up of AI technologies was at a low level in the majority of the other EU Member States with shares below 10 %. The lowest figures were recorded in Romania (1 %), Bulgaria, Estonia, Cyprus, Hungary and Poland (all 3 %).

Figure 13: Enterprises using AI technologies, 2021
(% of enterprises)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_eb_ai)

Enterprises engaged in e-commerce

E-commerce refers to the trading of goods or services over computer networks such as the internet. E-sales concern the receipt of orders by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving orders, either via electronic data interchange (EDI) or through websites or apps (web sales); orders received by way of manually typed e-mail messages are excluded.

More than 1 in 5 EU enterprises made e-sales in 2020

More than one-fifth (22%) of all enterprises in the EU made e-commerce sales in 2020. These e-sales accounted for 20% of the total turnover generated in 2020 (see Figure 14).

Figure 14: Enterprises making e-sales and turnover from e-sales, by size class, EU, 2020
(% of enterprises / % of total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2) and (isoc_ec_evaln2)

The share of turnover from EDI-type sales was greater than that from web sales

Enterprises which receive e-commerce orders may be divided into those making e-sales via a website or apps (web sales) and those making e-sales via EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). Although a higher proportion (19 %) of enterprises used websites and apps to make e-sales in 2018 than used EDI-type sales (6 %) (see Eurostat datasource isoc_ec_eseln2), the share of turnover from web sales in the total turnover generated by EU enterprises was relatively low, standing at 7 % in comparison with 13 % for the turnover from EDI-type sales (see Figure 15).

In relative terms, the split in turnover between that generated from e-sales via EDI-type messages and that generated by web sales was most pronounced in Czechia, Denmark and Slovenia, where EDI-type sales accounted for a share of total turnover that was more than twice as high as that recorded for web sales. By contrast, in Greece, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Cyprus the share of total turnover generated by web sales was higher than the share generated via EDI-type sales.

Figure 15: Turnover from e-sales, by type of order, 2020
(% of total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)

More turnover came from web sales to other businesses and public authorities than from business to consumer web sales

Across the EU, enterprises generated 7 % of their total turnover from web sales during 2020, consisting of sales via a website or apps. Figure 16 presents an analysis of how these sales were divided between different types of customer. 4 % of total turnover came from web sales to other businesses and government (B2BG), while 3 % of total turnover came from business to consumer web sales (B2C).

The Netherlands, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Romania were the EU Member States to report that a majority of their turnover from web sales in 2020 was derived from business to consumer sales. By contrast, the share of total turnover that was derived from web sales made through business to business and business to government web transactions was at least 2.5 times as high as the share from business to consumer web sales in Belgium, Slovenia and Hungary.

Figure 16: Turnover from web sales, by type of customer, 2020
(% of total turnover)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_evaln2)

More than twice as many enterprises used their own websites or apps than e-commerce marketplaces for their web sales

Figure 17 presents the breakdown by sales channel used by enterprises that made web sales in 2020. The information is split between those enterprises that made web sales via their own website or apps and those enterprises that made web sales via e-commerce marketplaces. During 2020, 17 % of enterprises in the EU used their own website or apps for sales, while 8 % used an e-commerce marketplace. More than 95 % of enterprises with web sales, sold online via their own website or apps in Czechia (98 %), Finland (98 %), Denmark (96 %) and the Netherlands (96 %). The lowest share was registered in Lithuania (47 %), where enterprises with web sales preferred to sell via e-commerce marketplaces (66 %). High shares of enterprises with web sales selling via e-commerce marketplaces were also recorded in Italy (63 %), Germany (58 %) and Poland (55 %). By contrast, just 19 % of enterprises with web sales in Finland sold via e-commerce marketplaces, while this share was also less than one fifth of all enterprises with web sales in Czechia (21 %) and Denmark (24 %).


Figure 17: Enterprises with web sales, by type of sales, 2020
(% of enterprises with web sales)
Source: Eurostat (isoc_ec_eseln2)

Data sources

Rapid technological changes in areas related to the internet and other new applications of ICTs pose challenges for statistics. As such, this area of statistics changes at a relatively rapid pace, compared with most other official statistics. Indeed, statistical tools are adapted to satisfy new demands for data and the ICT survey is reassessed on an annual basis in order to reflect the rapid pace of technological change.

The information presented in this article is based on the results of a Community survey on ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises. The statistics were obtained from enterprise surveys conducted by national statistical authorities. The results of this annual survey are used to benchmark ICT-driven developments, both by following developments for core variables over time and by looking in greater depth at other aspects at a specific point in time.

While the survey on ICT usage in enterprises initially concentrated on e-commerce, internet access and connectivity issues, its scope has subsequently been extended to cover a wider variety of subjects (for example, cloud computing, social media, mobile connections to the internet, the use of e-business solutions, ICT specialists, the outsourcing of ICT functions, the use of IoT and Artificial intelligence, data analysis and 3D printing).

Coverage

The statistical observation unit is the enterprise, as defined in Regulation (EEC) No 696/93. Note that the annual survey on ICT usage in enterprises covers enterprises that have at least 10 employees and self-employed persons.

The activity coverage of the survey is restricted to those enterprises whose principal activity is within NACE Rev. 2 Sections C to N excluding Section K and Division 75, but including Group 95.1: manufacturing; electricity, gas, steam and water supply, sewerage and waste management; construction; wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles; transportation and storage; accommodation and food service activities; information and communication; real estate; professional, scientific and technical activities (excluding veterinary activities); administrative and support activities; and the repair of computers and communication equipment.

The data collected can be analysed according to enterprise size classes (defined in terms of employees and self-employed persons), with information presented for small enterprises (10-49 employees and self-employed persons), medium enterprises (50-249 employees and self-employed persons) and large enterprises (250 or more employees and self-employed persons).

The data are organised in Eurostat’s online database according to the year in which the survey was conducted. Most data refer to the situation during the early part of the same year as the survey. However, data on e-commerce refer to the calendar year preceding the survey (in other words, to 2020 for the 2021 survey).

Context

In 2019, the new European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, described how she wanted the EU to grasp the opportunities presented by the digital age. Indeed, A Europe fit for the digital age is one of six Commission priorities for the period 2019-2024. Such a digital transformation is based on the premise that digital technologies and solutions should: open up new opportunities for businesses; boost the development of trustworthy technology; foster an open and democratic society; enable a vibrant and sustainable economy; help fight climate change. With this in mind, during February 2020 the European Commission adopted an overarching presentation of the Commission’s ideas and actions for Shaping Europe’s Digital Future, as well as specific proposals in relation to:

In 2021, the Digital Compass for the EU's Digital Decade (COM(2021)118 final, set the EU’s digital targets for 2030 by the evolving around four cardinal points: skills, digital transformation of businesses, secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, and digitalization of public services.

Direct access to

Other articles
Tables
Database
Dedicated section
Publications
Methodology
Visualisations





ICT usage in enterprises (t_isoc_e)
Digital skills (t_isoc_sk)
ICT sector (t_isoc_se)


ICT usage in enterprises (isoc_e)
Summary of EU aggregates (isoc_ci_eu_en2)
E-commerce (isoc_ec)
Connection to the internet (isoc_ci)
Websites and use of social media (isoc-cism)
E-business (isoc_eb)
Digital skills (isoc_sk)