A closer look at the survey findings reveals the discrepancy between the two sectors regarding their range of offerings, business processes and innovation activities: Indeed, approximately 43 per cent of companies in the information economy estimate that their range of offerings boasts a high level of digitalisation, whereas a much lower share of just under 26 per cent of companies in the manufacturing sector (excluding the ICT hardware sector) claim the same for themselves. While the difference may not be as pronounced for business processes at 48.6 per cent against 34.7 per cent, the digitalisation gap is also considerable for innovation activities with the respective levels being at 40.0 per cent and 18.1 per cent.
Innovative companies ahead in terms of digitalisation level
The information economy is composed of information and communications technology (ICT) firms, media service providers and knowledge-intensive service providers. Between the three sub-sectors of the information economy, too, the digitalisation level varies considerably. Unsurprisingly, the ICT sector is notably ahead of the other two in terms of its level of digitalisation. Both the range of offerings and innovation activities are highly digitised in almost two thirds of ICT firms. Among knowledge-intensive service providers, the focus is particularly on the digitalisation of business processes. Almost two thirds of companies in this sub-sector (which includes legal, tax and business consultants, architecture and engineering firms as well as advertising and market research companies) estimate the degree to which their business processes are digitised to be high. Where media service providers are concerned, digitalisation efforts are mainly centred on their respective range of offerings, with 44 per cent of companies estimating the level of digitalisation to be high in this area.
“Overall, we have identified a tendency for those information economy companies that are innovative to perform particularly well in terms of their digitalisation level,” says Dr. Daniel Erdsiek, a researcher in ZEW’s “Digital Economy” Department and project head of the ZEW Business Survey in the Information Economy. Approximately one in two of these innovative companies boasts a high level of digitalisation in their range of offerings, their business processes and their innovation activities. In comparison, non-innovative companies are lagging far behind.