lunes, 30 de mayo de 2016

#Index #Report Somewhere in #digital Europe .... (30/5/2016)

European Digital Progress Report

The European Commission has just released the European Digital Progress Report. It presents a set of horizontal chapters analysing developments in five different aspects (connectivity, digital skills, use of Internet, Integration of Digital Technology by businesses, Digital Public Services). It also contains country reports that shows the uneven development of the digital revolution in Europe.


International Digital Economy and Society Index

The I-DESI benchmarks the development of the digital economy and society in Europe against top world peers


miércoles, 25 de mayo de 2016

Reskilling politicians: Digital skills for policy makers



The society and the economy is more digitised as times goes by. It is happening at the same time in all the the developed countries. Take the case of Spain. While the Internet economy is equivalent to 4,4% of the Spanish GNP, the estimation of the share of total economic output derived from “digital” inputs is 20%. An immediate consequence of the growing usage of ICT in all the daily activities will be the need in the near future of some kind of digital skills in 90% of the jobs. 

Policy makers and regulators will certainly be among those who need an understanding a knowledge of the possibilities and effects of digital technologies. This need will not be restricted in the near future only to those in charge of the eGovernment services. Technology is pervasive and it is disrupting every sector, as we are seeing in the case of transport and lodging with the emerging of the shared economy services companies. 

We badly need to train our politicians in digital technologies. We cannot afford policy errors due to a lack of digital competence in a world in global competition. The Strategic Policy Forum on Digital Entrepreneurship, a working group established by the European Commission, suggests for the purpose of provided the politicians with digital competences  the creation of Digital Boot Camps for politicians.

Within one of the events organised by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Council, a pilot digital boot camp was held. The audience was composed mainly by labour and employment policy makers with a basic previous knowledge of digital technology. The policy makers debated on the economic and social impact of digital technologies with the background of six dynamic workshops. The practical sessions focused on smart cars, robots, software development, open and big data, 3d printing and cybersecurity set the right stage for a reflection on the consequences of digitalisation on employment.

However, digital boot camps as an isolated experience it is not enough. Besides this kind of immersive and inspiring experiences, it would be needed in-person training and online courses. Therefore, a trusted figure of a digital ambassador should be there to be the fellow travel of the policy makers towards the digital era. The digital ambassador would be also the key to bring together resources and facilitate the coordination with industry and academia for the purpose of policy makers digital capacitation. The central role of the digital ambassador demands independence from any vested interest or stakeholder group. In my opinion, a civil servant with a solid and extended digital knowledge would be the ideal person for this role.

The digital capacitation of the population looks as one of the main challenge for the forthcoming years. Among those who need this training, we need to pay special attention to policy makers in all the social and economic sectors. As the World Bank says in its last report"Technology amplifies the impact of good (and bad) policies, so any failure to reform means falling further behind those who do reform". The daunting task of the digital transformation of the society and the economy requires urgent and accurate policy measures. Either our politicians have the right tools for both or we will lose our future.


domingo, 22 de mayo de 2016

#DigitalSingleMarket #Connectivity Somewhere in #Digital Europe .... (22/5/2016)

A deepened Single market for labour and digital innovation

A policy paper published by the Jacques Delors Institut exploring how to reach higher productivity growth in EU. The author put forward the need to strengthen the single market in three areas: labour, finances and digital.


Connecting the world: Ten mechanisms for global inclusion

Global Internet growth is slowing down. Despite the ongoing digital revolution, some 56 percent of the world is still not online. The number of new Internet subscribers grew in single digits since 2013. The slowdown stems from barriers to Internet access that are created by deficiencies in the critical markets that deliver a meaningful Internet experience. This document describe some mechanisms so that the markets for connectivity, content creation, and retail remove these barriers to digital inclusion.

miércoles, 18 de mayo de 2016

The need of a new approach for the scalability of digital #privacy

Digital surveillance and the handling of personal data has been constantly in the papers since the Snowden revelations. The annoyance with the US authorities of the European governments and civil society have been growing since then. The more outstanding sign of this unrest was the annulment of the Safe Harbor agreement after the sentence of the Schrem case.

After hard negotiations, US and EU authorities have achieved an agreement for ensuring personal data privacy and establishing guarantees against undiscriminated surveillance on both sides of the Atlantic called Privacy Shield. The agreement try to reconcile the different cultures towards digital privacy in US and Europe. The cornerstone of the differences is the European view of privacy as a fundamental right. In spite of the efforts, it looks that the agreement will be challenged as soon as it will be approved and the European data protection watchdogs are in the front line of those who are pinpointing the shortcomings of the new agreement.

But let's imagine that everything goes right with the Privacy Shield. The agreement will be just a mutual guarantee for digital privacy of EU and US citizens. The citizens from other countries could still be under undiscriminated surveillance in US and EU. For instance, the smartphones of syrian refugees would still be hacked by EU custom authorities without any restriction. The extension of digital privacy guarantees to other countries' citizens will require new bilateral agreements. In case of Brexit, even the UK may need to establish its own privacy agreements with EU and US.

The digital globalisation show the limits of bilateral guarantees in the field of privacy. The scenario of a mesh of bilateral agreements looks as a unavoidable nightmare. Only a new approach based on an international global agreement would restore the trust on digital services in a global scale. And the only truth is that without trust the digital economy would not be able to survive as the driver of growth and well-being.

miércoles, 11 de mayo de 2016

#Fintech : The final disruption

Although digitalisation is changing things  around us, we have not seen the big disruption yet. We have seen how the transport or entertainment have passed through radical changes, but those and other cases are isolated sectors and many other activities are still being developed like 20 or 30 years ago. The point of no return in digital transformation would be a digital disruption with transversal impact in all the social and economic activities. This great disruption is under development and it is called fintech.  

Fintech will be something more than the digital disruption of the financial sector. Firstly, all our activities have in the base the access to capital and money is the main payment method for acquiring products and services. Fintech startups are making easier both at the same time and, therefore, they have the potential to change how we are developing all our activities. 

Secondly, the announced end of work, the replacement of workers by machine and algorithms, will have the digitalisation of the financial sector as one of its main sources. Let´s take only the banking subsector, one of the main source of stable work posts. It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of retail banking employees are doing manual-processing-driven jobs. The consequence of digitalisation on the banking sector jobs will be the disappearance of more than 1/3 of its posts in 10 years.

Lastly, the spillover of financial sector digitization will bring the reduction on the demand of many services. To begin with, there will be a significant decrease in the number of branches. This will mean pressure on real estate activities in every corner of our cities and all the world services and retail commerce that flourish around the bank branches.

Fintech has the potential to be the final disruption for the pre-digital society. It will change how we develop all our activities, it could be the model for the transition to a society scarce of jobs and it will have an unpredictable spillover on other physical activities. The ingredients are now on the pot.


miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2016

#DigitalSingleMarket : A year on

On May 6th 2015 the European Commission presented the communication containing its strategy to complete the Digital Single Market. Achieving the Digital Single Market was among the ten priorities listed by Jean Claude Juncker in his government programme and it is considered the logical update of the European Internal Market in the digital era. One year after, it is time to review the work that has been done and the outlook for the future.

According with the better regulation principles, the last six months of 2015 the Commission published a serie of public consultations (that continued in 2016). A total of sixteen consultations have been developed following a not defined pattern. Some of the measures included in the communication were the object of several consultations (e.g. copyright or telco) while others were measures share the public consultation (e.g. cloud & platforms). 

The first half of 2016 (and the last month of 2015) has been the period for the first serie of legislative and non legislative packets. The European Commission has published this proposals as thematic packages. The Commission have presented a copyright package accompanied by a online contract rules package, a proposal for the usage of the 700 MHz band and package for the digitalisation of industry and public services which includes also cloud and ICT standards initiatives.

Some of the packets have fulfilled the expectations, but other have been a dissapointment. Among the latter, I include the copyright package. While everyone was expected a full review of the copyright framework, the European Commission presented only a tiny piece of regulation for digital content and a new roadmap for the never delivered copyright reform. The copyright package gives the impression that the EC is too cautious with the thorny issues. The impression could be consolidated if the leak of the communication on platforms is confirmed by the end of the month.

The DSM strategy was initially planned for the years 2015-2016. Therefore, all the actions planned should have been finished within six months. It should be noted that this does not mean that the DSM will be completed by the end of 2016. It only means that the EC would have put on the table all the ideas for completing the DSM. It should not be expected that any legislative proposal could be approval before the end of 2018. Even the smaller tiny piece of legislation will be complex to approve. For instance, the decission for the usage of the 700 MHz band was expected to be approved in six months (during the Netherlands Presidency) and right now we do not have a date for the vote in the Parliament. 

But even it is hardly to expect that all the proposals for completing the DSM would be on the table before the end of 2016. Some of the package already contains reference of measures to be developed in 2017. Furthermore, some of the initiatives presented have been published with delay. 

To sum up, we should recognise the efforts done by the EC but a realistic review  could not overlook some signs of alert. First, the delay the implementation of the communication. Secondly, the long process of approval of an EU legislation (3,6 years on average) that will extend the real development of the DSM strategy until 2020 (at least). Now the question is if EU would be able to accelerate the process and deliver on time.

lunes, 2 de mayo de 2016

#TTIP #DigitalSingleMarket Somewhere in #digital Europe ... (2/5/2016)

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – State of Play

A report publishes by the European Commission which presents a break-down of progress made in the ongoing negotiation of a trade agreement between the EU and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The eCommerce and Telco areas are under consolidation according with the report


Reducing Costs and Barriers for Businesses in the Single Market

The study publishes by the European Parliament points that reducing business costs and regulatory and market barriers is necessary to complete the Single Market. However, monitoring of barriers and costs in the EU is piecemeal and unsystematic, quantification and clear identification of barriers and costs is lacking, which makes prioritisation of policy actions difficult. Resulting costs of slow reform process and vague initiatives with uncertain time horizons in the area of e-commerce alone amount to €748 billion.
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