Hand with smartphone; Source: iStock.com/Georgijevic

© iStock.com/Georgijevic

At a convention held at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 23 January 2018, experts presented the 2017/2018 D21 Digital Index. The figures show that Germany is making progress on digitisation, particularly where mobile internet use is concerned.

Said State Secretary Machnig: “It’s a good sign for Germany’s future that our citizens are using the internet for an increasing range of purposes and that a majority of people in Germany are open to digital developments. Digitisation is making our everyday lives easier and giving our companies new opportunities. However, innovative and increasingly complex digital technologies also mean that individuals need to acquire new skills. This applies to business and the workplace and also to our private lives. If we want to harness the full potential of digitisation, we will therefore need to invest more in digital skills. This will be a key task for policy-makers and businesses in the coming years.”

The current index showed that four in five Germans are now using the internet. The digitisation rate for our society has risen by two points to 53 out of 100. An increasing share of people is using mobile devices to connect to the internet. Around 70 per cent use a smartphone in their everyday lives.

For the first time, the index also looked at smart devices and artificial intelligence. Digital assistants and smart meters are just some of the smart devices that are moving into our homes. It is true that these technologies have yet to make a true breakthrough and that Germans tend to be quite reticent when it comes to adopting them. Overall, however, society has opened up more to digitisation, and skills levels in this field are also rising. A majority of people in Germany are able to use standard applications. There is, however, a great deal of potential for Germans to learn more complex digital skills, with only 13 per cent of Germans having some coding skills at present. It is therefore important to ensure that this type of digital skill is taught systemically, both at school and in the workplace.

The index also showed that one in five people in Germany do not use the internet. The main reasons cited for this are a lack of interest, the complexity of navigating the internet, and security concerns. The older generation is much more likely to be offline than younger people. There is also an educational divide.

The D21 e.V. initiative, which is supported by Kantar TNS and a number of partners, has created the digital index to provide an annual update on the degree to which German society has opened up to digital technologies. Indicators include access, skills, openness, and diversity of use cases. For the first time, the research for the study involved people being interviewed in person in addition to the traditional survey by phone.

You can find the study here (in german).