Digital economy and society statistics - enterprises
Data extracted in September 2020
Planned article update: January 2022
In 2019, 50 % of EU enterprises used social media.
In 2019, 92 % of EU enterprises used at least one ICT security measure.
During 2018, 1 in 5 EU enterprises made electronic sales (e-sales).
Between 2011 and 2019, the share of EU enterprises using internet connections of more than 100 Mb/s has tripled.
Enterprises using any social media, 2019
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 critical 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 their purpose and the adoption of e-business applications. Another important topic reflected in the article concerns the ICT security in enterprises. The widespread use of ICTs in the workplace has resulted in an increased demand for ICT specialists and the article also provides information pertaining to their recruitment, in particular the difficulties faced by some enterprises in filling these vacancies. The article closes with information on e-commerce.
Access and use of the internet
Enterprises connected to the internet via fixed broadband
In 2019, the vast majority (91 %) of EU enterprises with at least 10 persons employed used a fixed broadband connection to access the internet (see Figure 1). This share has remained between 91 % and 92 % since 2014, suggesting that at EU level the uptake of this technology has reached saturation. 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.
The share of enterprises using the fastest internet connections more than tripled between 2011 and 2019
In 2019, one sixth (16 %) of enterprises in the EU-27 had an internet connection speed that was within the range of ≥ 2 Mb/s but < 10 Mb/s, with a higher share (23 %) having a connection that was in the range of ≥ 10 Mb/s but < 30 Mb/s. More than one quarter (27 %) had a connection in the range of ≥ 30 Mb/s but < 100 Mb/s, while the fastest internet connections (at least 100 Mb/s) were enjoyed by more than one fifth (23 %) of enterprises in the EU-27. As can be seen from Figure 1, the share of enterprises using the slowest connection speeds (≥ 2 Mb/s but < 10 Mb/s) fell during successive years between 2011 and 2019 while the share using the two fastest connections (≥ 30 Mb/s) constantly increased.
In 2019, 77 % of EU enterprises had a website
The use of ICT has the potential to make significant changes to the way that 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 2019, more than three quarters (77 %) of enterprises in the EU-27 had a website, with a much higher share for large enterprises (94 %) compared with small enterprises (74 %). This share was 8 percentage points higher than it had been in 2011, when 69 % of enterprises had a website (see Eurostat datasource isoc_ci_web). The most popular functionality provided by enterprises’ websites was related to the description of goods and services and price lists as well as to links or references to the social media profiles of enterprises.
Social networks are used by almost half of EU enterprises
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 ( Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing); corporate blogs or microblogs such as Twitter; multimedia content-sharing websites (YouTube, Instagram, Flickr) and wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools.
As shown in Figure 3, half of EU enterprises used any type of social media in 2019, which represents an increase of more than 20 percentage points compared to 2013. Social networks were the most popular social media used by 48 % of the enterprises in the EU, followed by the multimedia content-sharing websites, which were used by 21 % of enterprises. Corporate blogs and wiki-based knowledge-sharing tools were less popular and were used by 10 % and respectively 6 % of EU enterprises. The use of these two types of social media recorded no significant increase between 2013 and 2019 (Figure 3).
In 2019, the share of large enterprises employing 250 or more people, which used any type of social media stood at 77 % and was almost 30 percentage points higher than the figure recorded for small enterprises employing 10 to 49 people (48 %). Three quarters of EU large enterprises (74 %) had an account and used some kind of social networks. By contrast, less half of small enterprises (46 %) used social networks. Multimedia content-sharing websites were used by 48 % of the large enterprises compared with 18 % of the small EU enterprises-businesses (Figure 4).
Figure 5 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 seven other EU Member States (Denmark, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Sweden, Belgium, Ireland and Finland) the recorded figures were higher than 70 %. The share of enterprises using social media was less than 40 % in Hungary (38 %), Poland (37 %), Bulgaria (34 %) and Romania (33 %).
Image building or marketing products was the main purpose for social media use by enterprises in 2019
As shown in Figure 6, for 85 % of EU enterprises that used social media in 2019, the purpose was image building or marketing products. This purpose of the social media use was the most important for all enterprises regardless of their size, with shares ranging from 87 % for large enterprises, 85 % for medium, to 84 % for small enterprises. Furthermore, 55 % of enterprises reported using social media to obtain customer opinions or reviews, or to answer their questions, implying an effort to improve customer service. At the same time, 54 % of enterprises used social media to recruit employees. Recruiting was especially important for large enterprises using social media with 79 % reporting to use social media for that purpose. In addition, for 27 % of enterprises using social media the purpose was to exchange views and opinions within the enterprise. The same share of enterprises (27 %) used social media to involve customers in product development or innovation. The collaboration with other organizations was the reason for using social media for 26 % of enterprises.
ICT security in enterprises
ICT security refers to relevant incidents as well as measures, controls and procedures applied by enterprises in order to ensure integrity, confidentiality and availability of their data and ICT systems.
In 2019, 99 % of EU large enterprises used at least one ICT security measure
The recent data provide an undeniable evidence for the high importance of ICT security for EU enteprises. In 2019, 92 % of EU enterprises used at least one ICT security measure. Among large enterprises, the share stood even at 99 %. Around 61 % of EU enterprises made staff aware of their obligations in ICT security related issues, including more than half of small enterprises (57 %). One in three enterprises (33 %) reported having documents on measures, practices or procedures on ICT security concerning for example confidentiality of data, risk assessment, employees training or evaluation of ICT security incidents or measures. In one in four enterprises (24 %) these documents were defined or reviewed in the last 12 months (Figure 7).
The most common ICT security measure used by enterprises in 2019 was keeping their software or operating systems up-to-date
As shown in Figure 8, 92 % of EU enterprises used in 2019 any ICT security measure. The most common measure used was keeping the software or operating systems up-to-date (87 % of EU enterprises), followed by strong password authentication (76 %), data backup to a separate location or cloud (76 %) and network access control (65 %). Less than half of enterprises reported maintaining log files for analysis after security incidents (45 %) and use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) (42 %). Encryption techniques for data, documents or e-mails were used by 38 % of enterprises. ICT security tests (35 %) and ICT risk assessment (33 %) were used less frequently by EU enterprises. User identification and authentication via biometric methods were used by 10 % of enterprises.
61 % of EU enterprises make persons employed aware of their obligation in ICT security
EU enterprises used a wide range of measures to make persons employed aware of their obligation in ICT security such as voluntary training based on internally available information, compulsory training courses and references in the employment contracts. Figure 9 shows that 61 % of enterprises in the EU reported to make persons employed aware of their obligation in ICT security. Among all EU Member States, the share ranged from 76 % in both Czechia and Ireland followed by Italy (73 %) and Denmark (70 %) to 47 % in Croatia and 33 % in Greece. In 2019, 33 % of EU enterprises had documents on measures, practices or procedures on ICT security. More than a half of enterprises in Denmark (56 %), Ireland (54 %) and Sweden (52 %) reported having such documents while on the other hand, less than 20 % of the enterprises had documents on measures, practices or procedures on ICT security in Bulgaria (18 %), Hungary (17 %), Romania (17 %) and Greece (15 %) (Figure 9).
13 % of EU enterprises were affected by problems due to ICT related security incidents in 2018
In 2018, one in eight EU enterprises (13 %) experienced at least once problems due to ICT related security incidents. The most commonly reported problem caused by ICT security incidents was unavailability of ICT services, such as hardware or software failures (excl. mechanical failure and theft), denial of service attacks, ransomware attacks, affecting 10 % of enterprises. Large enterprises were more likely to be affected by problems due to ICT related incidents; 25 % of large enterprises experienced such problems during 2018, while this was the case for 18 % of medium and 12 % of small enterprises (Figure 10).
As shown in Figure 11, 21 % of the enterprises in the EU reported having insurance against ICT security incidents in 2019. The highest share was recorded in Denmark (56 %), followed by Ireland (39 %), France (39 %), Sweden (39 %) and Spain (33 %). By contrast, in Lithuania, Hungary, Slovenia and Bulgaria less than 5 % of the enterprises reported having insurance against ICT security incidents in 2019 (Figure 11).
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 the communitarian 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 36 % in 2019. The adoption of ERP software applications was in particular low for small enterprises with a share of 30 %, which was two times lower than the percentage recorded for medium (60 %) and more than two and half times lower than the percentage for large enterprises (80 %). Customer relationship management (CRM) applications were used by one-third (33 %) of EU enterprises in 2019. The share of small enterprises using CRM applications stood at 30 % and was comparable to the use of ERP software. The adoption of CRM applications among large enterprises (62 %) was almost 20 percentage points lower compared to the use of ERP (Figure 12).
In 2019, more than half of the enterprises in Belgium and Denmark used an ERP software package to share information between different functional areas. On the other hand, ERP software was used by less than a quarter of enterprises in Bulgaria, Romania (each 23 %) and Hungary (14 %) (Figure 13).
Figure 14 presents the adoption levels of CRM applications in the Member States. The highest share of enterprises using CRM was recorded in the Netherlands (56 %), Belgium (46 %) and Germany (44 %). The adoption of CRM was at a low level in Croatia (19 %), Bulgaria (17 %), Latvia (16 %) and Hungary (12 %).
Recruitment of ICT specialists
Enterprises can rely on their own employees to develop, adapt, maintain or support IT systems (e.g. web solutions for enterprise websites and e-commerce; enterprise resource planning; supply chain management; customer relationship management applications; or the use of cloud computing services) or they can rely on external service providers. For large enterprises it has become increasingly common to have their own dedicated IT team or department. For the data presented in this chapter, ICT specialists are defined as people whose main job involves ICT and who are capable of dealing with a wide range of tasks concerning corporate IT systems.
In 2019, almost 1 in 5 EU enterprises employed ICT specialists; the percentage of large enterprises employing ICT specialists (75 %) is more than five times higher than that for small enterprises (14 %). During 2018, some 9 % of enterprises recruited or tried to recruit personnel for jobs requiring specialist ICT skills, while 5 % of enterprises reported that it was hard to fill those vacancies. These figures are heavily skewed by the large number of small and medium enterprises in the population of enterprises with at least 10 persons employed. More than two fifths (46 %) of large enterprises recruited or tried to recruit personnel for jobs requiring specialist ICT skills in 2018, while almost one third (30 %) of large enterprises reported that they had hard-to-fill vacancies for jobs requiring specialist ICT skills. By contrast, the corresponding shares for small enterprises were 6 % and 4 % respectively (see Figure 15).
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.
1 in 5 EU enterprises made e-sales in 2018
One fifth (20 %) of all enterprises in the EU-27 made e-commerce sales in 2018, reflecting a rise of 5 percentage points compared with 2009. These e-sales accounted for 18 % of the total turnover generated in 2018. Between 2009 and 2018, the share of e-sales in total turnover rose by 5 percentage points, as the share had been 13 % at the start of the period under consideration (see Figure 16).
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. Although a higher proportion (16 %) 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-27 enterprises was relatively low, standing at 6 % in comparison with 12 % for the turnover from EDI-type sales (see Figure 17).
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 Slovenia, where the share of EDI-type sales was almost eight times as high as the one of web sales in 2018. In Italy, Czechia, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Finland, France, Denmark and Germany 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 the Netherlands, Lithuania, Greece and Cyprus the share of total turnover generated by web sales was higher than the share generated via EDI-type sales.
More turnover came from web sales to other businesses and public authorities than from business to consumer web sales
Across the EU-27, enterprises generated 6 % of their total turnover from web sales during 2018, consisting of sales via a website or apps. Figure 18 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 2 % of total turnover came from business to consumer web sales (B2C).
In 2018, Lithuania, Cyprus, Romania, Greece and Latvia were the EU Member States to report that a majority of their turnover from web sales 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 2.6 times as high as the share from business to consumer web sales in Slovakia, Belgium and Estonia.
More than twice as many enterprises used their own websites or apps than e-commerce marketplaces for their web sales
Figure 19 presents the breakdown by sales channel used by enterprises that made web sales in 2018. 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 2018, 89 % of enterprises in the EU-27 with web sales used their own website or apps for sales, while 40 % used an e-commerce marketplace. The highest percentages of enterprises with web sales via their own website or apps were recorded in Slovakia (98 %), Estonia (97 %) and Romania (97 %). The lowest shares were registered in Slovenia (71 %), Luxembourg (75 %) and Italy (76 %).
The share of enterprises with web sales via e-commerce marketplaces peaked at 61 % in Italy, Germany (51 %) and Austria (50 %); none of the remaining Member States recorded shares above one half. By contrast, just 13 % of enterprises with web sales in Finland and Romania sold via e-commerce marketplaces, while this share was also less than one fifth of all enterprises with web sales in Denmark (18 %), Czechia (17 %) and Croatia (15 %) (Figure 19).
Source data for tables and graphs
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, big data analysis and 3D printing).
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 persons employed.
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 persons employed), with information presented for small enterprises (10-49 persons employed), medium enterprises (50-249 persons employed) and large enterprises (250 or more persons employed).
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 recruiting ICT specialists and on e-commerce refer to the calendar year preceding the survey (in other words, to 2018 for the 2019 survey).
Broadband technologies are considered to be important when measuring access to and use of the internet, as they offer users the possibility to rapidly transfer large volumes of data and keep access lines open. Indeed, the take-up of high-speed and superfast broadband are considered as key indicators within the domain of ICT policymaking. While digital subscriber lines (DSL) remain the main form of delivery for broadband technology in the EU, alternatives such as cable, satellite, fibre optics and wireless local loops are becoming more widespread.
In May 2015, the European Commission adopted a digital single market strategy (COM(2015) 192 final) as one of its top 10 political priorities for the period 2015-2019. The digital single market strategy had 16 initiatives that covered three broad pillars: promoting better online access to goods and services across Europe; designing an optimal environment for digital networks and services to develop; ensuring that the European economy and industry takes full advantage of the digital economy as a potential driver for growth. In the European Commission’s work programme for 2017 Delivering a Europe that protects, empowers and defends (COM(2016) 710), the European Commission proposed to advance swiftly on proposals that had already been put forward and to undertake a review of the progress made towards completing the digital single market. In May 2017, the European Commission published a mid-term review of its digital single market strategy (COM(2017) 228 final), which took stock of the situation, while outlining actions in relation to online platforms, the data economy and cybersecurity .
The European Commission is working on a number of initiatives to boost ICT skills in the workforce, as part of a broader agenda for better skills upgrading, anticipating skills demand and matching skills supply to demand. In order to increase the supply of ICT specialists, the European Commission has launched a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs, an EU-wide partnership that seeks to use European structural and investment funds to alleviate difficulties related to the recruitment of ICT specialists.
On 10 June 2016, the European Commission adopted a new Skills Agenda for Europe which seeks to promote a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support is made available to people in the EU so that they are equipped with skills that are needed in a modern working environment, including the promotion of digital skills.
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:
- A European strategy for data (COM(2020) 66 final) which seeks to promote the EU as a leading role model for a society empowered by data to make better decisions — in business and the public sector; and
- a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence — A European approach to excellence and trust (COM(2020) 65 final) which supports a regulatory and investment oriented approach with the twin objectives of promoting the uptake of artificial intelligence and addressing the risks associated with certain uses of this new technology.
- E-commerce statistics
- Cloud computing - statistics on the use by enterprises
- E-business integration
- ICT specialists - statistics on hard-to-fill vacancies in enterprises
- Social media - statistics on the use by enterprises
- Internet advertising of businesses - statistics on usage of ads
- ICT security in enterprises
- Digital society statistics at regional level
- Digital economy and society statistics - households and individuals
- 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)
- ICT usage and e-commerce in enterprises (ESMS metadata file — isoc_e_esms)
- Methodological manuals for statistics on the information society