Digital development requires the support of a functional digital environment that not only feeds new ideas and business possibilities but also attracts investments. The development and construction of digital infrastructure, such as faster and more secure connections and service channels, play a key role in the utilisation of the potential being formed and enabling the development generated by digitalisation.
In the public sector, many factors are encouraging the utilisation of digitalisation, such as financial pressures, structural reform, development of service accessibility and diversification of service producers. In the 2010s, an increasing number of people have started to use Internet services when dealing with the authorities and the public sector. In Western Finland, 65% of the population used the Internet to deal with the public sector in 2011; in 2016, the electronic services of the authorities were already being used by 80% of the population. On one hand, this is a sign that the public sector has digitalised its services and, on the other hand, that citizens have become their users.
Tampere – innovation and smart services
A new-age, smart service city is being built with great enthusiasm in Tampere. A smart city promotes the competitiveness of its enterprises and supports the smooth progress of the everyday life of its inhabitants. Today, Tampere has excellent preconditions for building a smart city. New development targets, such as the tramline, Central Deck and Arena as well as the Hiedanranta City District, serve as development platforms of new innovation. The Smart Tampere program provides companies with opportunities to experiment and different methods of joint development. The international networks of the program will open the global smart city market to the region’s companies. Read more in Tuija Telen’s article.
Fast and high-quality network connections are essential factors, among other things, in view of a functional and developing service structure, as an increasing number of functions and services require a smooth two-way network connection. More detailed information is becoming continuously available on the development and availability of network connections. The specification of data collection, however, makes the chronological and systematic comparison of data difficult.
According to information reported by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, 65% of the households in the Tampere Region had the possibility of acquiring a fixed broadband of at least 30 Mbps in 2016. Broadband of 100 Mbps was on offer to half of the households. There are still significant differences between the municipalities of the Tampere Region. The availability of 100-Mbps broadband is the best in Tampere; the weakest availability is in the smallest municipalities of the region. On a national level, the availability is the best in Helsinki-Uusimaa and Ostrobothnia.
Along with the digitally led structural change, the relative importance of, for example, industry and ICT manufacture in the economy has decreased and the significance of the different information-intensive services has increased. For example, exports of ICT services constitute the majority of service exports. Digitalisation, however, also plays a key role in the reform of more traditional fields and in maintaining competitiveness. The status of digital services (TOL 61-63) improved in 2015 in comparison with the previous year. There was growth in locations (+5.4%), turnover (+7.3%) and in personnel (+7.2%). The turnover of the field reached record heights. Companies of the field are also very well represented among the growth companies and start-ups. Because of this, the impact of digitalisation is also reaching the reform of the business sector, increasing the number of, for example, new entrepreneurs.
The share of digital services in Tekes funding granted to the Tampere Region increased in comparison to the previous year. In 2016, Tekes funding granted to digital services totalled EUR 14.3 million. This constitutes 28.4% of all the Tekes funding granted to the Tampere Region and covers 14% of all Tekes funding granted to digital services. This is significantly more than in 2015, when the share of the Tampere Region was 10%. Digitalism as a means to reform businesses is one of Tekes’ strategic areas of emphasis and it is also evident in the contents of the programmes promoting the strategy (incl. 5G, IoT), and thereby in the allocation of funding to be distributed.
In the Tampere Region, the competence base and abilities for the utilisation of digitalisation are high but, for example, the much-discussed shortage of digital experts is challenging the ability of organisations to respond to the requirements of digitalisation. When the need for digital experts is examined through the number of vacancies in digital services, it can be seen that the number of vacancies has steadily increased in the 2010s. It must be noted, however, that the majority of recruitments in the field also take place via direct recruitment and headhunting. The need for digital experts is also increasing in other fields, so a significant portion of demand in the sector may be excluded from these statistics.