martes, 28 de junio de 2016

The digital face of #Brexit

The UK's citizens have decided to leave the Union. Europe is facing an unprecedented situation. For the first time, the European Union is facing a shrinking process instead of a enlargement one. The procedures are of similar complexity, once the UK will ask oficially for the leaving there would be several sectoral negotiation tables to achieve a global arrangement.  Regarding the technological sector, there would be issues to be negotiated under the umbrella of different EU Council configurations.

Although the United Kingdom is not among the top five EU performers in the DESI, the Brexit will shake both the EU technological scene and the UK economy. As in many other economic sectors, both EU and UK will lose.

EU is losing an important force in its tech sector. According with the most recent OECD data, the ICT and subsectors contribution to UK GDP is 5,53%, the largest among the big five EU economies. Besides the UK current weight in the EU digital sector, UK has been a driving force in the inception of the Digital Single Market project currently under development. Furthermore, the now improbable UK presidency of the EU by the second semester of 2017 would have been a guarantee of a definitely push towards the conclusion of the negotiations of critical legislative proposals as the review of the audiovisual sector or the new rules for e-commerce (end of unjustified geoblocking, rules for online sales, regulation of cross-parcel delivery).

As for the UK, the Brexit will have a bigger impact on the ICT sector than in others. The last TechNation report noted that the UK digital economy grew a third faster than the UK economy as a whole and estimated that 1.56 million people were employed in digital companies in the UK. The access to the EU market has been a cornerstone of this thriving force. An important part of the human and financial capital needed to bulid the sector came from Europe. On one hand, there will be new barriers to inmigration and recruiting EU workers in a country that leads the number of forseen unfilled vacancies by 2020 in the ICT sector. On the other hand, there could be a decrease in financing funds to UK start ups as the European Investment Fund is the largest investor in UK venture capital firmsAfter two years competing head-to-head with London, it is more than probable that Berlin will definitely gain the post of the StartUp's European capital.

Establishing a new legal framework for the digital relationships between UK and EU will require to deal with a diverse and large set of issues. Some of them, as mobile roaming charges, will attract a huge attention. However, other more subtle will have a bigger impact. It is the case of the new data protection regulation that will not enter into effective force due to Brexit. EU is discovering the complexity of achieving an agreement with the US for the free flow of personal data between the two blocks. A similar difficulty could emerge between EU and UK, that could be extended to other fields where a strong level of trust is required, as cibersecurity.

We have in front of us a two year period of negotiations to make effective the brexit. Whatever the final result, it will be a bad result. Europe (including UK) will lost another two years of work deaing with the ICT face of brexit while their digital competitors  enlarge its advantage in this sector.

lunes, 27 de junio de 2016

#Skills #innovation Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (27/6/2016)

The impact of ICT on job quality: evidence from 12 job profiles

The European Commission has just published a report on the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on job quality. Looking at the evidence from 12 specific types of non-office jobs, the report found that the use of digital technologies is beginning to have a profound effect on the tasks carried out and the skills required for many jobs outside the traditional office.

Growing a Digital Social Innovation Ecosystem for Europe

The study focuses on the social innovation enabled by the "network effect" of the Internet and by new models for co-production and sharing of content, and open development of apps. It includes the analysis of how the open innovation ecosystems can be more fluid for new entrepreneurship and enterprise creation based on societal innovation. It involved entrepreneurs, academics, students and "geeks", NGO and volunteers, citizens.

miércoles, 22 de junio de 2016

An EU Digital Skills Agenda: Challenges and actions

There is a extended agreement on the need of digitising the society and the economy. It is not a matter where the countries have any room for maneuvering. Either they jump into the digitalisation wagon or they will perish in the platform of irrelevance. It is assumed that it is not possible to face the digital transformation without the previous deployment  of the right networking infrastructures. However, as important as having access to quality broadband connections is being able to reap its benefits. What is more, there is a vicious circle between the lack of digital competences and the lack of internet access, the former is the main reason given for not having internet at home.

Since 2013, the European Union is exploring different strategies to provide the right level of digital competences to the working population. The prioritisation of these efforts has been increased since the publication of the strategy for the completion of the Digital Single Market. To be more concrete, "a human capital ready for the digital transformation with the necessary skills" is considered one of the cornerstones of the roadmap for "Digitising European Industry - Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market".  Following the recommendations of the European Parliament, digital competences will be part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe to be published on the second half of 2016.

The first step to develop an EU digital skill agenda is reaching an agreement on the objective, on what is the definition for the digital competences that we would like that the population will have. An starting point could be the definition provided by the European Parliament in its 2006 recommendation

"Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet."

Although the definition need a refurbishment in order to update some of its wording, it is still a base good enough for starting the dialogue on the issue. For instance, "communication" is needed both at "work and leisure" so probably could be dropped from the definition.

As with any public policy, once we have reached an agreement on the final goal we need to identify both challenges and actions to tackle the challenges.

The main challenge of digital competence is its polyhedral nature. There are different set of skills and not all the digital skills are equally importance for all the population. The importance of a digital skill for a citizen is given by the environment where he is going to apply it. So the second challenge for policy-making on digital competences is identifying the different scenarios where the digital skills would be useful and which subset of skills are useful in that scenario. We can basically identify four scenarios (skills at work, skills for recovering a job, ICT specialist and leisure), but these scenarios could be refined. The third challenge is the identification of the causes for not having digital skills yet. This is a thorny issue, because it is not difficult to see that both the lack of opportunities as the lack of interest has an influence on why a citizen has not adquired digital skills. Last but not least, there is the challenge of funding. There is around 40% of the population that we need to provide with some kind of digital skills, so we are facing a challenge that is equivalent with the literacy process we faced at the begining of the XX century. In the current scenario of tight public budgets, it would be difficult to find an stable source of funding for this policy. And the source should be stable because we need to face both the short-term and long-term scenarios, providing skills at school and life-long learning.

The complexity of the challenges obliges to follow a multifaceted strategy. Each group has different causes for the lack of digital competences and they need different roadmaps for its adquisition. So we need to develop different catalogues of skills for the different groups, based on its demographic profile (age, gender, rural vs urban, social class, ...) and which is the purpose that is guiding them for achieving the skills (improving his working competences, finding a new job, being an ICT professional, leisure, ...). We also need to determine which should be the priority objectives of our capacity building actions. For this aim, we need to build new tools. One possibility is building heat maps based on data analytics that combine the population demographical profile with the causes for the lack of digital competences in order to identify the areas with the bigger risk of digital exclusion. To build the kind of tools described above, we need to deploy platforms for multistakeholder collaboration and a whole-of-government approach. As the ICT is a multipurpose technology and cross-sectoral, a single deprtament would not be able to face the challenges in an isolated manner. Finally, we need to face the funding issue. The basic skills are beginning to be include in the schools curricula, but the responsibility on the life-long learning should be taken by the companies as part of its corporate social responsibility. As for unemployed who are looking for a job, the main responsibility should be for governments, but there is also a room to promote patronage and public-private partnerships in order to decrease the public expenditure.

The case for a digital skills strategy is on the table. Both we need ICT specialists (there is a lack of 900.000 in Europe) and the rest of the workers need ICT skills for his job (90% of the jobs will need ICT skills in the medium term). Having the most advanced broadband network infrastructures would be useless without power-users.

miércoles, 15 de junio de 2016

Who oversees Google´s regulatory role?

Google is often looked suspiciously for his dominance of the Internet market. However, the criticisms usually focused only in the economical aspects of this supremacy or the effect on the market competition. But this dominion has as a collateral consequence a power as a regulator that sometimes is overlooked

The internet giant selects wisely the cases where it decides playing the regulatory role. There are causes that are popular among users and with few danger of arise discontent, and therefore without risk of leading to some kind of users' protest campaign. For instance, last year Google decided to promote mobile friendly websites through the promotion of this kind of websites in the results of its searching algorithm.The movement was the consequence of a research that showed that consumers want this kind of sites.

Google's regulatory role goes beyond imposing the characteristics of internet content. Recently, the Internet giant has decided to ban payday loan ads. It is not the first type of ads that google has banned, the company has an extended list of prohibited content for ads. However, it is the first case where the Internet giant has decided to ban ads of a legal product according with the government sectorial regulator. The uproar among the payday industry has been great because such decision could bring the end of this kind of businesses, but no significant protest has appeared from the consumer side.

The "de facto" Google's regulatory role has been aligned until now with the consumer interests and has not crashed with democratic principles. But this could not be the case in the long run. We should remember the accusations of political bias to Facebook. We have accumulated enough cases to think on establish regulators of Internet platforms decisions.

lunes, 13 de junio de 2016

#SharingEconomy #InternetTraffic Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (13/6/2016)

The Impact of the Collaborative Economy on the Labour Market

This paper analyses the direct and indirect impact of the collaborative economy on the labour market. The findings, based on a collection of empirical studies, suggest that most workers do not earn their main income through online platforms and they obtain earnings from different types of platforms. Earnings from physical/local services are, in general, substantially higher than virtual services that can potentially be delivered globally. The paper also assesses the conditions, number of hours worked and employment status, compared to the offline labour market, and finds shows large differences across types of workers, platforms, and countries.

VNI report

The yearly forecast of Internet traffic published by Cisco. Main predictions this year are the triplication of Internet traffic by 2020 and the growth from 2.2 per capita in 2015 to 3.4 devices and connections for every human on the planet.

miércoles, 8 de junio de 2016

#TTIPleaks and the #DigitalSingleMarket

On May 1st, Greenpeace published a collection of documents allegedly coming from TTIP negotiations. The European Commission brought down its value as outdated and the mere reflection of negotiation positions, but did not deny the verity of the documents. The press release that accompanied the leak was focused in the parts of the documents related with the environment and climate protection and consumer safety. However, TTIP aims to contain provisions regarding to the many faces of the trade relationships between US and UE and the leak contains hints about the negotiations of some of them.

Regarding the digital economy, the set of leaked documents contains a text regarding "Electronic Communications" and some interesting references in the document called "Tactical State of the Play". Furthermore, perhaps the paragraphs that mention digital issues in the latter are more valuable to draw conclusions than the former.

The "Electronic Communications" document only reflects the proposals from both negotiation side without any element to judge which has been or will be the option finally chosen. We can only infer that there is a intention to conciliate the different concepts and provisions of the Telecommunication Legal Framework at both sides of the Atlantic. The main question that one could pose on the table is which is going to be in the next future the relationship between the discreet negotiation of this chapter and the ordinary legislative process for the reform of the EU Telecommunications  Framework foreseen in the Digital Single Market Strategy.

The "Tactical State of the Play" is a much more interesting document, although it must be highlighted that reflects the results of the 12th round and the last round held was the 13th. From a global perspective, the document is a more ample and precise dossier of the state of the negotiations that the official report of the 12th round. Regarding the digital economy area, it reflects clearly the importance of the free-flow of data issue for US, which appears as one of the main roadblocks of the negotiation ("The US signaled that progress on these key EU interests might be accelerated if discussions on data flows and computing facilities also advanced faster"). Again, it will be interested to have a clear view of the conection between the free-flow of data negotiations within TTIP and the free-flow of data initiative for the Digital Single Market that the EC has announced it will present by the end of 2016 (see the communication on "Digitising European Industry").

It is difficult to say how the TTIP will conditionate in the future the regulation capacity of the UE on the field of the digital economy. However, there are elements that certainly will conditionate the near future, particularly the development of the legislative proposals for completing the Digital Single Market. Some clarity on how TTIP negotiations and the legislative process for this initiatives are going to be reconciliate would be useful.

miércoles, 1 de junio de 2016

Digitalisation is reinforcing unbalanced growth

Digital globalisation is beginning to show its socioeconomic effects. In spite of its global positive effects, there are signs of a growing divide within and between nations. Digitalisation looks as the source of growth of the enlargement of traditional economic divides. Beyond neoludism, it is time to review some facts and analysis that corroborate this hypothesis.

Let´s start with the digital divide within nations. Both in the developed and developing countries, exclusion is highly linked with unemployment. According with a recent article of the Harvard Business Review, the future will not bring us the end of work but an evolution of the labour market. The less-skilled jobs will be replaced by digital-skilled jobs. Therefore, the digital divide will enlarge the divide between the upper and lower social classes, between those who have more chances of retraining and acquiring digital skills and those who not. The growth of job in some professions based on computer usage come at expenses of other occupations. And the job losses will appear in those professions traditionally occupied by lower social classes.

A similar enlargement of traditional divides is beginning to happen between countries. Just when offshoring and outsourcing were beginning to help developing countries to fuel its economies, digital globalisation is starting to change the rules. Smart manufacturing and data analytics are reducing the business advantage of offshoring jobs. The labour cost of a machine will be always lower than the cost of the cheaper worker. As a consequence, we can expect that some manufacturing activities will return to developed countries at the cost of developed countries. As within nations, the digital divide will enlarge the divide that already exists between rich and poor nations. Economic growth is highly dependent of data flows, and the vortex of data is the developed world.

In spite of the above landscape, few international commitments to fight the digital divide that have been made. Fortunately, it looks there is a change on trends. Only just a few months the UN declaration on the review of the implementation of the outcomes of the WSIS has recognised the importance of bridging any kind of digital divide and the link between digital and sustainable development.

An unbalanced growth has been in the past the source of tensions within and between nations. Digitalisation could be either a lever for harmonised growth or the tool for the enlargement of the legacy divides. Unfortunately, it looks the later is the path we have chosen.

palyginti kainas