Monday, 15 September 2014

£11m plan will put health records on your own Facebook-style page

AN ambitious hi-tech £11m plan to allow any doctor or nurse to access a patient’s information from anywhere in the country is being launched by Islington health chiefs.

Patients will have their own Facebook-style  health page or app, detailing all of their information, which they will be able to invite other people to look at from anywhere from “Cornwall to Scotland”.

As a proposed solution eCulture certainly thinks it is the right way to go in so far as providing a patient consent based interface solution. The key will be however in what platform they build this to integrate with from an existing social network perspective. Or if they decide to establish their own, what additional functionality they would proposed to include beyond that concerning health to keep prospective clients engaged.

Other fundamental aspects of concern, build out of the core infrastructures, taking into account the information governance and cybersecurity requirements, with the need to build in capacity for growth, this is not cheap, even from a start-up perspective.

Opting for a predominantly open source approach will keep costs down, but there will always be an associated cost incurred on a user by user basis some from commercial off the shelf (COTS) technologies that cannot be displaced by open source alternatives and, subject to what functionality is provided associated increases in platform costs.

There is potential to offer certain services to clients on a subscription basis to cover this, but this is most easily addressed when the offering is from a commercial third party, not so easily implemented when the solution is being offered from an NHS body?

Affiliate revenues are another potential but considerable care and attention in how this is achieved has to be taken, i.e. if the solution is going to have in time an advertising affiliate revenue based model, then great care has to be taken in what it advertised, again more so of the solution is presented as a NHS solution.

Perhaps the business case at the end of the day can justify the investment and running costs be met by central government, on the basis of strong returns on investment achieved.

When they launch it will be interesting to see what fair processing notice comes with the launch, but if they do it right in terms of implementing the right patient consent / data access assurance model then the notice becomes much less of an issue.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

"eCulture" A New Mission

With a recent refresh of the website and refocusing of what eCulture Solutions was about I thought it was would be good to try and define succinctly a mission, for which I have arrived at...

“To facilitate the exploitation of digital innovation,
 supporting delivery of positive and inclusive
 social and business transformation.”

The pace of technology innovation and digital inclusion is increasing at a significant rate and societies the world over, are transitioning to an digitally orientated way of life as governments and institutions adopt digital ways of engaging in preference over existing methods. Societies are entering the “eCulture” digital age .

The measure of success in the development of eCulture, will come down to how well society manages to establish “mutually supporting communities” in a digital context.

It is early days, and so as organisations and business start out on their respective eCulture transitions I thought it would be helpful to offer some thoughts on key considerations.

eCulture Transition

Government, public sector and allied third party service transformation delivered by preference for engagement between service providers and users to becoming wherever possible, a digital process, is presently focused by the premise that this will deliver much needed efficiency gains and cost savings.
UK Government business case estimates presently suggest that transactions online can already be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than postal, and as much as 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.

Success however, will not be achieved with this focus alone. Efficiency gains and savings can only be realised by wide scale adoption, that in turn will only be secured by service redesign that delivers mutual benefits to service users, largely recognised by them as improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and / or quality of the service.

Digital Exclusion

There is however something that is fundamentally new in this evolution to eCulture status, on the basis that until now, any digital project concerning the engagement of service users, with notably these being largely commercial ventures, has qualified requirements and measures of success in business plans / profit and loss forecasts, on the basis of focusing engagement on a digitally “included” demographic.

By contrast a key distinguishing factor in the transition to the ‘eCulture’ age, is the social development focus on digital - for example job adverts and applications and critically public services, such as benefits and health and social care services, which for those that remain digitally “excluded”, the prospect of social exclusion and increasing poverty are of serious concern.

Digital exclusion is defined as: 
  1. Access - the inability to actually go online and connect
  2. Skills -  inability to use online solutions
  3. Motivation - not having a personal reason making use a good thing
  4. Trust - loss of privacy, or victim of online crime
Consequently overcoming the digital exclusion challenges is of greater concern to government, public sector and allied third party provider projects. Because the target demographic for online public services is the poor, elderly, frail and socially excluded, these representing the greatest proportion of citizens making most use of public and allied third party services, that unfortunately are also the greatest proportion that are ‘individually’ digitally excluded.

Additional Missed Business Opportunity

In the UK, recent research published by the BBC has found that 21% of UK’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the Internet.
Around a third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t have a website, and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs), a great many of which represent the allied third parties supporting public service provision, this figure rises to 50%.

Independent analysts estimate full digital take up could add £63 billion value to the UK economy alone!

Digital Inclusion

Of 7 billion people, around 40% of the world population has an Internet connection. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of Internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005, the second in 2010, the third will be reached by the end of 2014.

In 2013 in the UK, 89% of young people now use a smartphone or tablet to go online, up from 43% in 2010. At the end of 2013, global smartphone penetration had exploded from 5% of the global population in 2009, to 22%. That's an increase of nearly 1.3 billion smartphones in four years.

Tablets are showing faster adoption rates than smartphones. It took smartphones nearly four years to reach 6% penetration from when the devices first started to register on a global level. Tablets accomplished this in just two years.

eCulture on a Mission

So in conclusion eCulture, is to help the organisations develop their digital skills and understanding of how technology innovation can be utilised operationally to increase the benefits they are able to deliver to their service users, and in the process of engagement help organisations to reach the digitally excluded through the many digitally included. 

After all almost everybody will have a family members, carers, friends or benevolent neighbours that are digitally included……

“their digital community”

A noble quest wouldn't you agree? 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

EU Scoreboard 2013 - Digital Agenda Europe (DAE) Progress

The European Commission (EC) Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) – Progress report for 2013

Executive Summary

In general, the results across the EU are positive.

·         Internet usage is increasing rapidly, an now stands at 72%, up from 60%. Progress has been even faster among disadvantaged groups.

·         Online shopping is doing well, too, arriving at 47% and 10 points up from the start of the DAE.

·         High-speed broadband is now available to 62% of the population, more than twice the 29% we had in 2010. Still, progress so far has been heavily concentrated in urban areas. Given the limited advancement in rural areas, it is thus too early to judge whether the 2020 broadband targets will be reached.

However, there are a few areas where progress is insufficient.

·         eGovernment take-up by citizens only added four points over four years, is growing more slowly than other online applications and is indeed stagnating in a number of countries. Clearly, neither the potential savings in administration costs nor the potential benefits to citizens are fully exploited.

·         A mere 14% of SMEs use the Internet as a sales channel, only two points up in four years. With such low rates, eCommerce can only be very limited tool for SMEs to grow and create jobs.

·         Public support for R&D in ICT is well below the annual growth needed to achieve a targeted doubling by 2020; budget deficit reductions have taken their toll.

·         Finally, cross-border shopping is growing only slowly.

Next Generation Access

Next Generation Access coverage: Fast broadband technologies capable of providing at least 30 Mbps are available to an average of 64% of the EU population, up from 54% a year ago.

In the UK access is available to over 92% of the population, up from 70% in 2012, well above the EU average and one of the larger leaps of progress of the member states.

Among the Next Generation Access technologies Docsis 3.0 for cable has the highest coverage (42%) followed by VDSL (32%) and FTTP (15%).

There are a number of Member states which have already coverage of 90% of homes or more. Most of these have cable and telecom networks competing for customers.

However, rural areas are lagging behind: only 16% of households are covered.

Every European Citizen Digital: consistent progress

Regular Internet use in the EU has increased by 11 percentage points since the launch of the Digital Agenda, from just above 60% to 72%.  Although growth is slowing somewhat, on current trends the target of 75% will be reached by 2015.

The UK is ranked 6th and above the EU average, and achieved and increase of approx. 10% between 2009 and 2013, taking percentage of the population use the Internet at least once a week to approx. 87%

Progress has been largest in countries with a low starting level, especially in Greece, Romania, Ireland, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Croatia. Nevertheless, even Luxemburg has managed to add 10 pp in four years from a very high baseline. Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Luxemburg have now crossed the 90pp threshold, showing that "Every European Digital" is possible in the not-so-distant future.

Conversely, the share of the population which has never used the Internet has declined by 10 points to reach 20%, making the achievement of the target in 2015 possible but not yet assured.

Frequent Internet usage, i.e. connecting at least daily, has risen by 14pp (as opposed to 11pp at least weekly for regular Internet usage), indicating a trend among regular users to more frequent use

Progress has been especially strong for disadvantaged groups, among which regular Internet use has now reached 57%, up from 41% four years ago. On current trends, this target of 60% will be reached even before 2015.

Online shopping is growing, but less so cross-border

The proportion of online shoppers continues to grow, up more than 10 points over the period 2009-2013 to 47% of citizens, advancing in a close parallel with the rate of Internet use.

The target of 50% by 2015 is likely to be achieved. While there appears to be no overall relationship between the rate of online shoppers in a country and the rate of increase in this rate over the period observed, the countries with the lowest rates of online shoppers (Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Estonia) have also seen least progress in increasing rates.

Cross-border online shopping has also increased somewhat over this period, up to 12% in 2013 (+4% over 2009), but this pace is too slow to achieve the target of 20% by 2015.  As could be expected, smaller member states have higher rates of cross-border shopping. However, they also exhibit higher growth. In Poland only 9% of online shoppers purchased cross-border, the lowest share of all member states by far.

SMEs are hardly exploiting the Internet for sales

The share of European SMEs selling online is growing at a glacial pace, reaching 14% in 2012, compared to a DAE baseline of 12%. Even in the best performing countries increases are marginal, and only the UK, the Czech Republic and Slovakia register rises of 5% and more. On current trends, not a single member state will even come close to achieving the EU average target of 33% by 2015.

The UK SME’s ranked 8th in of all member states with approximately 18% online sales >=1% of turnover and approx. 42% of online purchases >= 1% of turnover.

The share of SMEs purchasing online is generally much higher, and the EU average of 26% is much closer to the target. This relative success is partly due to a much higher starting point. Also, it is easy to purchase online (a credit card number is sufficient), but difficult to sell (a platform needs to be set up, with payment and delivery mechanism).

eGovernment: use by citizens increases, but too slowly

The use of eGovernment services by citizens has advanced over the last four years, but the most recent data indicates progress which is somewhat slower than the trajectory of the first years. As a result, overall progress of only four percentage points over four years is insufficient to achieve the 2015 target of 50%.

There has been considerable progress in a number of countries, but very slow change or even decrease in several large member states (Italy, Poland, United Kingdom, Germany) means that the EU average has moved with limited speed.

The variation of eGovernment uptake is much larger than for most other indicators. Even considering Romania as an outlier, the best-to-worst ratio of 4 is twice as high as for Internet use.

The share of citizens returning filled forms among those using eGovernment services is very stable across the EU at 50%, a share which is roughly valid for most countries as well. The UK comes in just under the EU member state average rank 14th

Among the key cross border public services which have been identified in the Connecting Europe Facility Guidelines, electronic ID, electronic signature, electronic delivery and electronic invoicing will be implemented in 2014.

Public R&D for ICT has stopped growing

After increasing for several years, in 2011 public R&D in ICT had managed to increase despite a fall in total public R&D. In 2012, it has followed the overall decrease and went down by 2.5%, a bit faster than the overall decline.

The target of doubling public R&D by 2020 requires an annual growth rate of 5.5%. Already last year actual performance was below the necessary trend line; now the gap is about 20%.
Link to an easy view of the EU DEA Progress Report

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

EU Scorebards 2013 - Broadband Markets

The European Commission (EC) Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) – Broadband Markets Scoreboard report for 2013

Broadband coverage: Basic broadband is available to everyone in the EU, while fixed technologies cover 97% leaving 6 million homes unconnected. Next Generation Access (NGA) covers 62%, up from 54% a year ago. Deployment of 4G mobile increased sharply. Rural coverage remains significantly lower, especially in NGA.

Basic broadband is available to all in the EU, when considering all major technologies (xDSL, Cable, Fibre to the Premises, WiMax, HSPA, LTE and Satellite). Taking only fixed, fixed wireless (WiMAX) and mobile wireless (HSPA and LTE) into account, the coverage goes down to 99.4%. Fixed and fixed-wireless technologies cover 97.2% of EU homes.

Next Generation Access technologies (VDSL, Cable Docsis 3.0 and FTTP) capable of delivering at least 30Mbps download are available to 62%.

Coverage in rural areas is substantially lower for fixed technologies (89.8%), and especially for NGA (18.1%).

Coverage of fixed broadband

Technologies continued to increase slightly with a focus on rural areas. In four Member States, all homes are covered by at least one fixed technology.

The UK ranked 4th in the table and achieved 99% coverage in rural areas.

Primary internet access at home is provided mainly by fixed technologies. Among these technologies, xDSL has the largest footprint (93.5%) followed by Cable (42.7%) and WiMAX (19.7%). Fixed coverage is the highest in the Member States with well-developed DSL infrastructures, and is over 90% in all but four Member States.

Overall coverage of fixed broadband increased by 2 percentage points in the last two years, but there was a remarkable progress in rural areas from 79.9% in 2011 to 89.8% in 2013.

Next Generation Access

Next Generation Access includes VDSL, Cable Docsis 3.0 and FTTP. At the end of 2013, Cable Docsis 3.0 had the largest NGA coverage at 41.2%, followed by VDSL (31.2%) and FTTP (14.5%). Developments until 2012 were dominated by the upgrade of cable networks, while VDSL coverage grew by more than 60% in the last two years. NGA networks are currently very much limited to urban areas: rural coverage is only 18.1%, coming mainly from VDSL.

The UK ranks 9th presently in the deployment of FTTP, VDSL and Docsis 3.0 cable, total coverage achieved is at 81% with 25% coverage extending into rural areas.

4G mobile broadband availability reached 59%, up from 27% a year ago. 4G has been commercially launched in all but three Member States.

In 2013, deployments of 4G (LTE) speeded up. Nevertheless, 4G coverage is still substantially below that of 3G (HSPA). As of October 2013, close to 60% of Mobile Network Operators in the EU offered 4G services on LTE networks.

LTE deployments in the UK has reached 63 in respect of total coverage by unfortunately none of those coverage has reached rural classified areas as of yet, this places UK ranking in 12th place overall.

There are 30 fixed broadband subscriptions per 100 people in the EU, which corresponds to a take-up of 76%* of homes. The number of subscriptions are still increasing, but the growth rate is low.

The fixed broadband subscriptions market is still on the increase. The growth in penetration stabilised between 1 to 1.3 percentage points per year. The market grew by 5.4 million subscriptions in the last twelve months.

The slowdown is caused by the saturation of the most advanced Member States, as well as a modest migration from fixed to mobile technologies.

Penetration in the EU is higher than in the OECD (27%), and the same as in the US.

Take-up by Member State varies greatly, from 19 to 41 subscriptions per 100 people. Denmark and the Netherlands are among the leaders worldwide, while Romania, Bulgaria and Poland are lagging behind.

Although still very large differences can be observed in take-up across Europe, the coefficient of variation measuring the dispersion among the Member States decreased from 38% in 2008 to 22% in 2014.

The UK ranks 6th in rate of take up with a subscription as a % of the population at 34%, by comparison to the top rated member state Denmark which has achieved 41%.

>30Mbps subscriptions are getting popular, while >100Mbps is still rare in the EU.

An estimated 15% of homes subscribe to fast or ultrafast broadband.

With the increasing availability of NGA networks, fast broadband subscriptions are getting more and more widespread in Europe. Currently there are 6.3 fast broadband subscriptions (offering a headline download speed of minimum 30 Mbps) per 100 people in the EU, up from 2.5 two years ago.

The UK ranked in 11th place with 9% penetration of subscriptions as a % of population involving fast broadband connections of at least 39Mbps. By comparison the top ranked country is Belgium at 23%.

Take-up of ultrafast (>100Mbps)

This remains marginal at 1.6 subscriptions per 100 people corresponding to 3% of homes.

Ultrafast connections represent only a fraction of fixed broadband subscriptions despite the fact that FTTH/B and Cable Docsis 3.0 networks are capable of delivering such a speed.

Sweden is by far the leader in this product category, with at least 10% penetration of the population using ultrafast broadband.

The UK ranking out of the member states is at 22, with less than 1% ultrafast broadband user population, this is also 9 places lower than the EU average.

The take up of fast broadband (at least 30 Mbps) falls well below the NGA coverage: NGA is available to 62% of homes in Europe, but only an estimated 15% subscribe to fast broadband.

Countries with higher NGA coverage tend to have higher high-speed broadband take-up, but very large differences can be seen across Member States.

Over 70% of subscriptions are xDSL, although xDSL is slightly losing market share. Cable is second with 18% of the market. Fibre to the Home/Building is emerging.

Although DSL is still the most widely used fixed broadband technology, its market share declined from 80% in 2009 to 72% in 2014. The main challenger, cable somewhat increased its share during the same time period, but most of the gains were posted by alternative technologies, especially FTTH/B. Net gains of DSL, cable FTTH/B were in the same magnitude over the last two years.


Incumbent operators are market leaders in almost all Member States, although their market share is decreasing. During the last eight years, new entrant operators always posted higher net gains then the incumbents. In the last six months, new entrants yielded 80% of the total net gain in the market. This, however, could not result in a large change in the overall market share of new entrants because of the low growth rate of the total market.

Market shares are calculated at the national level for the incumbents and new entrants. However, broadband markets are geographically fragmented suggesting that a large number of homes are served by only one provider (most likely by the incumbent operator in this case).

In the UK, the split has been calculated to be incumbents 33% of the market share with new entrants having the remaining 67% suggesting a perhaps somewhat healthy level of competition?

However new entrant subscriptions remain largely dependent on using incumbent infrastructure (69%) as opposed 31% that are utilising their own infrastructure, which placing the UK ranking 4th from bottom of the table in comparison to other member states, where greater proportions of new entrants have their own infrastructure.


Low speed fixed broadband subscriptions are getting marginal: only 3% of all subscriptions have lower than 2 Mbps advertised download speed as opposed to 36% six years ago. At least 10Mbps applies to two thirds of subscriptions, up from 9% in 2008.

Fast and ultrafast broadband subscriptions grew by 44% in twelve months. Despite the growth of fast and ultrafast subscriptions, they are still rare in the EU. In January 2014, only slightly more than one in five subscriptions were at least 30 Mbps and only 5.3% at least 100Mbps.

Speeds of broadband products are advertised as "up to a certain Mbit/s", but there are significant differences between the advertised speed and the actual speed that consumers receive. In the EU, the actual download speed is 76% of the advertised speed. DSL delivers only 63.8% of the advertised headline download speed, compared to 89.5% for cable and 82.7% for FTTx.

As for the xDSL being the most widely used technology in Europe, there are large differences across Member States: 90% of the advertised download speed is attained in Poland, but only 45% in France and 50% in the UK and Ireland.

The UK achieves on average better speeds overall that a good number of other member states, with 17% achieving speeds between 2Mbps and 10Mbps and a decent 83% benefiting from speeds above 10Mbps.

Mobile Broadband

There are 62 active mobile broadband SIM cards per 100 people in the EU, up from 26 three years ago. The growth in subscriptions somewhat slowed down in the last twelve months.

Mobile broadband represents the fastest growing segment of the broadband market, although the growth somewhat slowed down in the last twelve months in terms of active subscriptions. Take-up increased by 15% in 2013 compared to 18% in 2012. 

In the Nordic countries, there are already more than 100 subscriptions per 100 people, while in Hungary, Greece and Portugal the take-up rate is still below 40%. Most of the mobile broadband subscriptions are used on smartphones rather than on tablets or notebooks.

Mobile broadband is mainly used a complementary connection rather than a substitute to fixed broadband.

The correlation between fixed and mobile broadband take-up remains rather weak in the EU. More than 30% of homes with internet access use mobile broadband, up from 16% in 2010. However, in most of the cases, mobile broadband does not substitute a fixed connection: only 8% of homes with internet access rely purely on mobile technology.

Broadband and Bundle Prices

Prices of high speed broadband access across the EU Member States tend to decrease over time but remain dispersed across Member States.

Broadband access prices remain dispersed across Europe: the median prices (calculated on Purchasing Power Parity) vary between €22 and €102 for a standalone offer with a download speed between 30 and 100 Mbps.

The UK retail prices (EUR PPP) on standalone offers came in under the EU average for 12-30Mbps at €28.63 by comparison tom the average at €36.65 and over the average for 20-100Mbps at €40.29 against the average of €33.99.

Prices of triple play bundles including broadband access, fixed telephony and television has come down considerably since 2009.

The median prices of triple play bundles including broadband access (with a download speed between 30 and 100 Mbps), fixed telephony and television vary between €38 and €90 in the EU.

The UK retail price (EUR PPP) for bundles including broadband, fixed telephony and television average at €62 in line with the overall EU average.

Broadband take-up tends to be lower in countries where the cost of broadband access accounts for a higher share of income.

The correlation between fixed broadband take-up and the relative price of broadband access is negative (-66%), so broadband take-up tends to be lower in countries where the cost of broadband access represents a higher share of the income.

26% of those households without internet access considers the broadband access prices a barrier to take-up, while for 30% the required equipment is not affordable.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

EU Scoreboard 2013 - eGovernment

The European Commission (EC) Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) – eGoverment Scoreboard reports for 2013

In 2013 eGovernment services have been used by 41% of the EU28 population, down from 44% in 2012 and almost at the same level as in 2011. This set against a target of 50% of the population to be using eGovernment by 2015.

Currently only 9 out of 28 countries are above the 2015 target and only 7 countries have seen usage increasing in 2013.

The UK is ranked 14th at a little over 40% just under the EU average in 13th place. Unfortunately the UK was one of the 7 countries that experienced a decrease in the use of eGovernment between 2012 and 2013.

eGovernment Use

Internet-savvy citizens often use the Internet to contact public administrations, but less so to conclude more complex interactions.

Almost three quarters (73.3%) of Internet users (in the last 12 months) who needed to contact a public authority (or to use a public service) did so online in 2013.

A quarter of these used exclusively the Internet, while the others used also other channels of interaction. 26.7% of the internet users contacted their public administrations without using the Internet at all. The preferred offline channels of interaction were personal visits (54%), telephone (50%), email (25%) and other methods (e.g. SMS, post, 20%).

However, when more advanced interaction is required, Internet users are less likely to carry this out online. In 2013, among Internet users who needed to submit official forms to public authorities, only 52% did so via Internet, down from 53% in the previous year


Users of eGovernment services are in general satisfied, while the main reason for non-use is a lack of trust.

Once citizens start to use online public services, they generally find the experience highly satisfying (75%), with only a minority feeling very disappointed (8%). The most appreciated feature is the usefulness of information (87% mainly satisfied), followed by the ease of finding information (84%), the ease of using online services (79%) and the transparency/follow-up (75%).

Lack of trust seems to be the main source of non-use. It comes in several forms:

·         a preference for personal contact (41%),

·         higher trust for paper submissions (30%),

·         concern about personal data (19%),

·         and a lack of immediate feedback (16%).

Other main factors of non-use are a lack of skills and an incomplete digitalization of government services.

The measurement of eGovernment supply, some methodological notes

The supply side of eGovernment is measured through a user journey approach. This is undertaken by researchers acting as mystery shoppers, that is, by posing as ordinary users of eGovernment services. The mystery shoppers simulate an event in the life of the citizen/entrepreneur requiring administrative action from the government (e.g. a marriage) and then go through public authorities websites in order to fulfil the related administrative requirements through the online channel when possible.

Seven of these life events are analysed in the course of two years (the first complete measurement is from 2012-2013) in different government domains:

·         losing/finding a job

·         enrolling to university

·         moving

·         starting a small claim procedure

·         buying/owning a car

·         starting a business

·         regular business operations

Different aspects of service provision are examined in this new methodology, but the two examined here are the following: User-centric eGovernment and Transparent eGovernment. The User-Centric eGovernment indicator measures the availability of eGovernment services, their connectedness and their user-friendliness. The Transparent eGovernment indicator measures the online transparency of governments on the different aspects of online service delivery, treatment of citizens' personal data and activities of the public administrations. Both indicators range from 0 (complete absence of required features) to 100 (all features included).

The source for the eGovernment supply data is the eGovernment Benchmark Report (see

Link to an easy view of the EU eGovernment Report

Thursday, 12 June 2014

EU Scoreboard 2013 - Internet Use

The European Commission (EC) Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) – Internet Use Scoreboard reports for 2013

There are some really interesting profiles developing not least in respect of the maturing App market place and transitioning that appears to be occurring between Apple and the Android platforms.


The diversification index* measuring the mean number of online activities undertaken by internet users has grown continuously of the past few years, from 5.1 in 2009 to 6.2 in 2013

This showing that as people become more experienced and confident online, they not only increase their frequency of use but also the diversity of the activities they perform.

This process takes time, and while leading countries such as Denmark and Sweden are about 4 years ahead of the EU average, internet users in lagging countries such as Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Poland are 4 years behind the average.

The UK comes in a respectable rank of 6th which is above the EU average ranked itself in 9th place.

Online shopping is growing, but less so cross-border.

The proportion of online shoppers continues to grow, up more than 10 percentage points over the period 2009-2013 to 47% of citizens, advancing in a close parallel with the rate of internet use. As such the Digital Agenda target of 50% by 2015 is likely to be achieved.

Cross-border online shopping has also increased somewhat over this period, up to 12% in 2013 (+4 percentage point over 2009), but this pace is too slow to achieve the target of 20% by 2015.

The UK is second in the table behind Germany and one of only 9 member states that have succeeded in exceeding the EU target. In the UK over 75% of Internet users shop online.

Europeans increasingly download Apps.

App Economy continues solid growth both in Europe and worldwide.

In 2013, total App downloads from all platforms reached 90bn worldwide and 20bn in Europe. The number of downloads grew a staggering 80% worldwide in 2013. Europe showed a 68% growth, and the USA grew at a rate of 36%.

However, growth is slowing and forecasts for 2014 point to an increase of 44% in downloads worldwide, 36% in Europe and 17% in the USA.

In 2013, App revenues (downloads and In- App purchases) reached EUR 12bn worldwide and EUR 2.75bn in Europe. Worldwide App revenue has roughly doubled in 2013 (97% growth). In Europe it grew 59% and 43% in the USA. Revenue growth is slowing down and in 2014 it is expected to grow 32% worldwide, 31% in Europe and 19% in the USA.

China's App economy "woke up" only recently. From nearly no downloads until 2010, China has surpassed both Europe and the USA in 2013 with a total of 23bn downloads and a growth rate of 135% for that year. However, revenues have not yet caught up. While China accounted for 26% of worldwide App downloads in 2013, it accounted for a mere 8% of revenue.

Apple App Store and Google Play are the main App platforms.

Google Play becomes leader in App downloads.

Apple App Store remains ahead in total revenues.

Google Play and the Apple App store are the two main platforms for App distribution worldwide. In 2013 they accounted together for three quarters of worldwide App downloads and about 90% of revenue from App purchases (App downloads plus In-App purchases).

Concerning App downloads, Google Play is in the lead with 38bn downloads in 2013 versus 28bn for the Apple App Store. In terms of revenue, Apple's App Store generated over EUR 7bn in 2013, almost the double of the EUR 3.8bn generated by Google Play.

Both platforms are in rapid expansion, whether measured in terms of App downloads or in revenues therefrom. The Apple App Store grew 45% in terms of downloads and 75% in terms of revenues in 2013. Google Play nearly doubled in number of downloads and saw a near 4-fold increase in revenue.

In-App Purchases have become the preferred App business model.

Games generate more revenue than all other Application types together.

Looking at the breakdown of revenue from the Apple App Store in Europe reveals preferred business models and types of content.

In-App purchases are the preferred App business model, over Pay per Download. In-App purchases account for close to 90% of App Store revenues in Europe in 2013. This and increase from less than 5% in 2008.

The revenue from In-App purchases was over EUR 1.4bn in Europe, versus less than EUR 200m from App paid downloads.

Games generate the largest share of App revenues, more so than all other Applications together. Games account for over 70% of App Store revenues in Europe in 2013. The revenue from Games reached about EUR1.2bn in Europe, whereas other Applications generated only over EUR 400m.

Advertising revenues are in slow recovery after the financial crisis.

Online + Mobile advertising are growing much faster than the advertising sector as a whole.

Online advertising is overtaking traditionally dominant segments in terms of revenue share.

After the severe dip due to the financial crisis and the ensuing period of near stagnation, advertising revenues have slowly started to recover. Total advertising revenues** reached EUR 75.593bn in 2013, which still represents only 87% of the 2007 pre-crisis peak value.

Revenue for the whole advertising industry returned to positive growth of 1% in 2013 (+EUR 0.5bn) largely due to the Online + Mobile segments. In 2013, revenue from traditional segments decreased 5% (-EUR 2.9bn), while the Online + Mobile segments grew 18% (+EUR 3.4bn).

Online + Mobile advertising revenue shares have grown steadily since 2005. At EUR 23bn in 2013, they accounted for over 30% of total advertising revenue. By contrast, the revenue shares of the Print and TV segments have been declining, and are about to be overtaken by the online segment.

Germany, the UK and France account for over 60% of advertising revenue in the EU. The UK accounts for the largest share of online revenues.

The largest European countries also generate the most advertising revenues: Germany (23.5%), the UK (22.9%) and France (14%). The share of online revenue in total advertising revenue varies significantly across countries. The UK accounts for the largest share of online revenues (45%), followed by Denmark (39%) and the Netherlands (34.5%).

Both the UK and Germany showed growth in total advertising revenues in 2013 (UK: 9.5%, DE: 4.3%), as well as in the online segment (UK: 24%, DE: 33%). France showed some growth in the online segment (6%), but a decline in total revenues (- 1.2%). Due to the revenue from the Online segment, the UK is expected to overtake Germany as the biggest advertising revenue generator in 2014, with a forecast EUR 18.5bn in total revenue.

eCulture Conclusion for the UK


The UK continues to make solid progress in the diversification and use of internet services amongst its existing use population.


The UK’s position as the leader in securing online revenues from advertising is a marked success to be maintained going forward.

Perhaps an area for investment focus is development of revenues from Apps and development of a strong app development community here in the UK. Critically to this however will be the need to address the UK ICT skills gap that is forecasted form the UK flagged in a previous blog article on the EU Digital Inclusions and Skills Scoreboard.
*The Diversification Index is calculated for individuals that used the Internet in the previous 3 months, and is computed as the number of activities performed out of the following 12 selected activities:
sending/receiving e-mails  - browsing for information about goods and services - reading online newspapers/news  - looking for information on travel/accommodation services - posting messages to social media  -interacting with public authorities - internet banking - telephoning or video calls - selling goods or services - purchasing content (films, music, software) - purchasing goods - purchasing services


Saturday, 7 June 2014

EU Scoreboard 2013 - Digital Inclusion and Skills

The European Commission (EC) Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE) – Digital Inclusion and Skills Scoreboard reports for 2013 have flagged some interesting concerns with potential to quite significantly impact broader EU digital aspirations.

And critically, the UK is singled out as a contender likely to be adversely affected alongside Germany and Italy.

eCulture, summarises UK progress on this scoreboard to date and explores the potential impact a skills gap could have.

Access to the full version of the EC report published is available at the end of this article.

Internet User and Usage Growth

The EC reports that the number of internet users in the population continues to increase, with 72% of the EU population reporting that they used the internet at least weekly in 2013.

More than half of the EU citizens (62%) reporting using the Internet daily in 2013. Use by disadvantaged people also continues to rise; with 57% reporting using the internet at least weekly in 2013. In both cases the rate represents a continuance of the ongoing upward trend since 2009.

Across Europe, rates of weekly internet use remain dispersed and the rankings of countries with the highest and lowest rates have changed very little over time.

In the UK, 80% of Internet users (including disadvantaged users) access the Internet at least weekly, a fairly respectable 8th place, ahead of Belgium, Germany, Austria, Estonia and France perhaps surprisingly in 14th place. The EU28 average ranks in at 16.

The highest rates of weekly internet use continue to be found in the Nordic countries, where rates are around 90% or more, with Iceland top of the league, followed by Norway, Luxemberg, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Finland.

At the other end of the scale, countries with the lowest rates of weekly internet use (Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Turkey) is limited to around half of their respective populations.

Interestingly the report flags that convergence is taking place; with, generally speaking, larger annual increases in rates of weekly use of the internet in counties with the most catching up to do.

EC Digital Excluded

The report highlights that of those identified to be digitally excluded the biggest barriers were:

·         Not having a need for access (49%)

·         Lack of skills and ability (37%)

·         And cost, with equipment (30%) and access (26%)

Interestingly all of the three reasons have become increasingly significant over time, it is cost issues that have gained substantially in significance amongst households with children and those on low incomes.

The EU target set in 2009 was for halve the digitally excluded from 30% to 15% by 2015. With the ratio down to 20% in 2013 the report suggests EU members are on schedule to achieve the target.

However, the margin of improvement between 2012 and 2013 was just 2%, so this will have to be slightly improved upon going forward.

The biggest improvements were made in Croatia, Greece, Romania, Slovenia, Cyprus, Estonia and Italy, but it was noted that number of countries (Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland and Malta) with above average rates of non-users had struggled to make improvement since 2012.

Digital Skills Mix

The EC report adopts the newly constructed Digital Skills Indicator*, based on the Digital Competence Framework** (developed by DG EAC and IPTS on-going).

Across the EC the variation of skills ranges from 6% in Sweden with no digital skills to 50% in Romania. In ten countries (Malta, Lithuania, Portugal, Poland, Croatia, Cyprus, Italy, Hellenic Republic, Bulgaria and Romania) 30% or more of the population have no digital skills.

In four countries (Italy, Hellenic Republic, Bulgaria and Romania) rates are 40% or more. In Italy, with its large population, this equates to almost 18 million people without digital skills. In the worst cases Bulgaria (81%) and Romania (85%) most of the population does not have the digital skills they need.

Considering that to function effectively in the digital society one needs more than low level skills, almost half the EU population (47%) can be considered as insufficiently digitally skilled (having either low or no digital skills).***

The EU assessment of the UK Digital Skills rankings identifies approx.

·         11% of the population has no skill

·         31% low skills

·         27% have basic skills

·         31% are considered “Above Basic”

That means according to the EC standard described here, approx. 42% of the UK population has insufficient skills to function effectively in a digital society.

Disadvantaged People

Disadvantaged people are defined as individuals belonging to at least one of the following three groups: aged 55-74, low educated or unemployed, retired or inactive.

In the EU28 38% of disadvantaged people have no digital skills at all.

In the UK approx. 24% of the population falling into the disadvantaged class have no skills, with a further 38% identified to have low skills, making if 62% of the disadvantaged population having insufficient skills to function effectively in a digital society.

Digital Skills Amongst The Workforce

Rates of digital skills for this category fare much better as expected, with rates on average higher than for the average population rates in the EU review earlier.

In the UK the rates are approx. 5% with no skills and an additional 30% with low skills, thus 35% with insufficient skills to function in a digital society.

In respect of information communication and technology specialist employment across the EU on average growth in the specialist skilled population has grown 4% a year since 2000.

The UK increased its share of ICT specialist employment by 4.2% to position itself 3rd in the leaders group, behind Sweden 4.8%, Finland 4.7%.

Despite this growth since 2000 the report flags the employment potential of ICT remains underexploited, with evidence showing a growing gap emerging between supply and demand.

The report goes on the highlight that the largest ICT professional skills gap to be found in Germany, with forecasts suggesting that over the period up to 2020 the ICT professional skills gap will be severely aggravated in the UK and Italy in particular. This due insufficient production of ICT graduates to keep up with strong demand.

eCulture Conclusions for UK

Of key concern will be the fact that the UK has an emerging problem with the production of ICT skilled graduates, for which a call out for assistance from the private sector for help on resolving this issue.

This approach is shared across the EU, under a proposal for the private sector to support the formation of a “Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs”.

The skills gap issue has the potential to increase in severity as the government pushes ahead with development of eGovernment, success of which is highly dependent on availability of ICT skills.

As eGovernment is especially concerned with the digitally excluded, the being for the most part primary users of government managed services such as health, social care and benefits, set to be transitioned to digital engagement models.

The digitally excluded will need assistance to become engaged, likely adding to the increase in demand for ICT skilled specialists, especially in education and training in particular.

With austerity still very much a focus in the private sector as well as the public sector, there has to be a concern that if not sufficient support and assistance is secure to address the growing ICT skills gap, a much broader and negative impact is going to be felt across other programmes of work designed to increased our capabilities to contribute and compete in an eCulture orientated world.


** Ferrari, A. (2013), DIGCOMP: A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe, JRC Scientific and Policy Reports.

*** To be classified as “Low Skilled” an individual has to have carried out activities from only one of the four Digital Competence domains included in the index (information, communication, content-creation and problem-solving). To have “Basic Skills”, an individual has to have basic in at least one domain. To be classified “Above Basic” the individual has to score above basic in each of the four domains.