CIOs at organizations in public and private sectors alike can expect to feel the impact of the Digital Agenda Europe's 2013 goals.
For starters, businesses using digital services across the European Union will have access to new providers they can use to potentially reduce IT costs. Proposed cloud-computing markets, for example, will encourage competition and will widen the array of vendors from which CIOs can choose. There are also talks about establishing pan-European networks for broadband and mobile services, which can help to unify the offering of data services across the EU.
One significant advantage will be the possibility for international corporations to deal with a single National Authority, in the country of their main place of business, without the need to seek regulatory approval in each EU market in which they operate. This will go a long way toward easing compliance burdens for IT.
At the same time, new regulations about privacy and transparency need to be taken into account as CIOs plan information security and compliance strategies.
Since the European Digital Agenda was launched three years ago, 15 million EU citizens have been able to access the Internet for the first time. Now, 68 percent of people in the EU are online regularly, according to the European Commission's Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2012.
Additionally, broadband is now available nearly everywhere, with 95 percent of Europeans having access to fixed broadband connections.
EU aims to close the digital gap in 2013
Such progress notwithstanding, the European Commission is making an aggressive push to close the gap so that all EU citizens can access digital services. The goal is to have a true Digital Europe emerge during 2013 that meets the needs of businesses, consumers and governments. In order to do that, the Commissioner for Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes is focusing on these key areas:
- Broadband access: Having 95 percent of Europeans with access to broadband connections is not enough. The commission's top priority is to create a new and stable broadband regulatory environment, focusing on non-discriminatory network access, net neutrality and universal service. In addition, the commission is looking to create a new pricing methodology for wholesale access to broadband networks, encouraging competition and cost reduction for subscribers.
- Services: New public digital services will fast track the roll out of government services over the Internet, including the use of Electronic IDs and eSignatures, business mobility, and Electronic Health Records.
- Skills and jobs: Through collaboration between public and private sectors, the aim of the Commission is to avoid the possibility of more than 1 million IT jobs going unfilled by 2015 because of a lack of skilled workers.
- Cybersecurity: The Commission is determined that Europe should offer the world's safest online environment. The privacy regulations are going to be aligned with a minimum level of preparedness at national levels, coordinated by the EU Cyber Security Agency.
- Digital single market: The Commission is preparing a comprehensive update of the EU Copyright Framework for this year, addressing the issues of accessing copyrighted materials from EU member states. These include TV shows, music, movies, e-books, etc. This would eliminate archaic regional distribution systems and different taxation for the same digital products.
- Cloud computing: The European Cloud Partnership (ECP) is set to make the biggest advances this year, aiming to establish a true European market for Cloud Services. The goal is to enable European businesses to shop with confidence for the best service providers, independently of their location within the Union.
The EU's ambitious goals for 2013 will go a long way toward improving access for citizens, government and public-sector organizations, and corporate enterprises. Any one of these goals -- and particularly the tasks of cybersecurity, updating copyright frameworks, creating jobs, and building a secure and reliable cloud computing marketplace -- seems daunting on its own. Taken together, they represent a steep hill to climb.
Which of the above goals would you most like to see accomplished? Is there one goal in particular that you think is most fraught with potential pitfalls? Which goal would offer the most immediate value to your business? Tell us about it in the comments field below.