The result on the DESI for Croatia, from 2017 to 2022, increased slightly more than the same for the entire Union, which certainly proves that it is a positive, but still insufficient, shift.
Analysts estimate, and we see this every day in conversations with companies and the public sector, that despite good results in digital skills, there is still a shortage of ICT specialists whose share in the workforce in Croatia is lower than the Union average. In public administration, the problem is salaries, so few decide to work in public administration because salaries are more than 30 percent lower than in the private sector.
The lack of specialists significantly affects the integration of digital technologies in companies, which is why companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, cannot fully use the potential of digital transformation. There is a problem in companies because many of them do not have IT specialists due to their size, but use the services of other companies when necessary. At the same time, it should be emphasized that there is still no awareness that IT solutions are not an expense but an investment in increasing productivity.
The DESI index also brings the fact that Croatia, when it comes to telecom services, according to analysts’ estimates, still has poor results when it comes to the penetration of internet speed services of 100 Mbps and more, very large capacity networks, but also 5G network coverage and the price index broadband access.
On the other hand, as we have already mentioned, although the share of ICT experts in the workforce in Croatia is lower than the EU average, the investments of companies in ICT training and the number of people with a diploma in ICT in Croatia are higher than reference values of the EU. This is very interesting information that shows that changes are slowly coming. Despite the measures already taken to boost digital skills for all, it is crucial to increase the country’s readiness in the field of digital skills more quickly in order for the EU to achieve the goal of a digital decade for ICT professionals, according to analysts.
Part of the DESI also refers to data, and according to this, Croatia has good results in terms of open data, but this is reduced by poor results in the field of digital public services, with a small number of users, infrequent use of pre-filled forms and limited provision of public services to citizens and to companies. It is expected that the acceleration of investments in digitization will lead to changes primarily from NPOO, however, it should be emphasized that analysts believe that it is necessary to continue making constant efforts in order to achieve the goal of the digital decade of 100 percent online provision of key public services for citizens and businesses .
When it comes to the use of digital technologies in the economy, among companies, the data shows that 35 percent of companies apply cloud solutions, 43 percent use e-invoices, i.e. exchange them primarily with the public administration in public procurement processes, much less with each other, and 9 percent uses technologies based on artificial intelligence.
Although these results are the basis of Croatia’s contribution to the goals of the digital decade for the digitization of companies, there is great potential for even better application of key technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence, analysts explain.
* The creation of the project “Impact of digital transformation on the development of public services in Croatia” was co-financed by the Agency for Electronic Media