Bitkom warns of a “digital divide” in the economy

According to a survey by Bitkom, there are hardly any fundamental reservations about digitization in German companies. But sometimes there is a lack of implementation.

Bitkom President Achim Berg at a press conference in November 2019

Dhe digitization of the economy in Germany has gained in importance due to Corona, but almost every third company had to cut back investments in this area. That is the central result of a representative survey among companies with 20 or more employees from all industries on behalf of the digital association Bitkom. “The corona pandemic is clearly a driver of digitization for the German economy,” said Bitkom President Achim Berg on Monday. “The good news is that companies want to do something and drive digitization forward. The bad news: Not everyone is capable of this. “

There are no longer any fundamental reservations about digitization. 97 percent of companies currently see digitization primarily as an opportunity for their own company. More than 8 out of 10 companies (84 percent) state that the corona pandemic has made digitization more important for their own company.

With the concrete implementation of the digitization plans, the numbers no longer look so clear. 43 percent of the companies surveyed state that their investments in digitization have “increased significantly” (11 percent) or “somewhat increased” (32 percent) since Corona. Conversely, however, 30 percent complain that spending “tends to decrease” (27 percent) or “significantly decreased” (3 percent).

Biggest hurdle in data protection

The survey also shows differences depending on the size of the company. Only 10 percent of companies with 20 to 99 employees and 13 percent of companies with 100 to 499 employees have increased their investments significantly. For companies with 500 to 1999 employees, however, it was 24 percent, for those with 2000 employees or more 22 percent. “There is a risk that the digitization push caused by Corona will lead to an even deeper division in the German economy: in companies that are largely sticking to the analogue and in companies that are moving ahead with digitization at a rapid pace,” said Berg.

The companies cite data protection as the biggest hurdle for digitization (69 percent). This is followed by requirements for technical security (58 percent) and a lack of skilled workers (55 percent). Currently, 43 percent of companies cite a lack of financial resources as a hurdle, in April it was only 25 percent, in 2019 it was only 20 percent.

For many companies, the introduction of home office was at the top of the list of priorities. 55 percent have already implemented this, with a further 15 percent this is planned.

The Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) pointed out “a clearly positive effect of working from home” at the weekend. “Above all, the work of employees in many companies is visibly more digital than before the crisis,” said ZEW expert Daniel Erdsiek. The reason for this is likely to be the relocation of work from the office to the home office, he said.