Digital maturity in Sweden

The on-going digitalisation of the economy holds many promises to spur innovation, generate efficiencies and improve services, thereby boosting productivity and economic growth. However, these benefits are accompanied by disruptions. Digitalisation transforms the way companies do business and it changes the nature and structure of organisations and markets, raising important issues around digital maturity.

Digitalisation has transformed the world of business in the last 15 years. New internet-based businesses have been born, such as the internet-based communications company Skype or the music streaming service Spotify. However, the transformation encompasses much more than the traditional ICT-producing sector. The new technology is transforming many existing industries, including manufacturing, industry supporting services, transport and retail.

Advances in digital technologies are embedded in all sectors of the economy and contri­bute to:

  • improving productivity
  • reaching new markets
  • reducing costs
  • changing business processes
  • creating new business opportunities and new jobs.

Digital technologies can raise productivity but the technologies are diverse and they are being adopted and diffused at different rates. Today, technological changes are made in a time span that is highly compressed compared with the rate of change in the past. New technologies develop and mature, much faster and more profoundly than they used to. The rapidly developing digital technologies – among them the social media, internet of things, big data analytics and cloud storage – enable unprecedented levels of connectivity for busi­nesses worldwide. To prosper in this new connected environment, new capabilities are required that challenge established norms and blur organisational boundaries.

The transition towards a digital economy changes the way companies do business. Execu­tives in every sector face a large array of digital opportunities. To understand the structural impact of digital technologies and the changing nature of competition in the digital econo­my, it is important to consider the digitalisation journey that Swedish industry has em­barked on. To better understand the deepening impact of digital technologies, the Swedish Agency for Growth Policy Analysis (Growth Analysis) suggests a digital maturity indi­cator.

A new digital maturity indicator to measure the on-going digitalisation of the Swedish economy

There is a need to develop indicators that can show how far businesses in different sectors have progressed in the digital transformation journey, i.e. how digitally mature they are.

This report represents the first attempt to measure the ongoing digitalisation of the Swedish economy at sector level and with regard to business size. The digital maturity indicator combines four components to provide a comprehensive picture of how digitally mature Swedish companies are.

The four components are:

  • systems for enterprise resource planning
  • systems for customer resource management
  • social media
  • market and integration (systems for e-invoice, e-sales and supply chain).

It reveals which parts of the economy are surging ahead and which could be part of the next wave of growth. ICT, retail, other services and manufacturing have achieved a higher level of digital maturity while sectors such as construction, real estate and transport are less mature.

  • ICT: This sector is unique in its broad use of digital technology and growing impor­tance for all sectors across the economy. The benefit of a strong ICT sector is that digital competence can spill over to ICT-using sectors. The ICT sector is one of the fastest growing sectors which create quality improvements, efficiency gains and structural transformation throughout the economy as well as in the public sector.
  • Retail: This sector is dynamic and developing fast. Digitalisation creates new forms of trade and underpins trade facilitation. E-trade is growing and wholesale trade is seeing efficiency gains. In addition, the lines between the different stages of trade are be­coming increasingly blurred.
  • Other services: The weight of the service sector contribution to the economy is sub­stantial. It is in this sector that most new jobs are created. The digital maturity of this sector is quite high despite its heterogeneity, covering advanced knowledge intensive services as well non-technological activities in cleaning companies.
  • Manufacturing: The global competition in this sector has intensified in recent years and advanced manufacturing is becoming a strategic priority. Digitalisation underpins trade facilitation and global value chains. It enables products or value creation to be stored or conducted nearly anywhere, raising issues about the global nature of pro­duction. In addition, new technologies are reshaping the characteristics of the manu­facturing of goods and services, and in addition, production processes and customer relations are being digitalised.

Managing digital transformation

There is a need to complement the quantitative indicator with case studies to gain a deeper understanding of how far different businesses have progressed on their digital transformation journey, i.e. how digitally mature they are. Digital maturity is a combination of two separate but related dimensions. The first dimension is the previously presented digital intensity indicator that shows ICT-usage in companies. Companies maturing in the second dimension, transformation management intensity, create the leadership capabilities necessary to drive digital transformation. Transformation intensity of consists of a) how organisations implement technology based change, b) the strategies used to shape digital business and c) the new digital competence needed to drive change. Digitally mature organisations understand how to drive value with digital transformation. They combine a transformative strategies and careful governance with sufficient investment in new opportunities. However, in many companies, these elements are overly slow or conservative, preventing the company from investing in innovative opportunities.

The cases show digital business is not just something that the organisations talk about in their strategies. The informants describe how the digital transformation affects all aspects of the operation.

The organisations change:

  • ERP-systems digitise and connect processes for purchase, production and sales
  • Physical good are connected to the internet and combined with services
  • New digital business models challenge the predominant business models

Drawing on the new case study evidence it is clear that digital technologies are fundamentally transforming business strategies, business processes, and organisational capabilities. We observe how a number of companies embed their digital strategy into their overall business strategy. Dawning on the cases we see three type of connection between digital strategy and the overall business strategy. The connection is either obvious, intensifying or limited.

The results extend existing literature on digital competence. The cases highlight that digital business requires new combinations of competences that extend beyond the technology related competences described by OECD in chapter 1. The Husqvarna case illustrate the need for agile competences that are less about technology and more about capabilities to organise and drive processes for rapid change. Sometimes change takes time in traditional sectors and SKF describe the new type competences needed to connect different organisational functions. Broad competences are needed to connect the managing, operational and supporting processes required to understand how to drive value with digital transformation. The goal is not only to connect all machines in production but to offer services to manage the customers operation remotely.

Learning from digital leaders is important. In many companies transformation management is slow or conservative, preventing the company from investing in innovative digital business opportunities.

Digital maturity in Sweden

Serial number: Report 2017:02

Reference number: 2016/011

Download the report in Swedish Pdf, 2.7 MB.

A partial study of the project:


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