Guest Blog: Standing out, not stalling out, in the digital age

As revealed by EY 2018 European Attractiveness Survey, business leaders are steadfast in their view that the digital economy will be the dominant driver of growth in Europe in years to come. According to them, Europe’s economic future will be significantly shaped by the tidal wave of digitalization that is transforming the way we live, work and play.

This is positive news for the region based on latest FDI performance results in the digital sector. The Nordic countries collectively achieved 75% growth in digital FDI projects in 2017. An impressive feat and over double the growth witnessed across Europe as a whole. In addition, the Nordics’ share of European inbound digital projects increased to 8.2% in 2017, up from 6.2% in 2016 and 4.3% in 2015. The figures leave little room for doubt of the region’s digital status and attractiveness. Government initiatives including the ambition to lead 5G deployment and initiation of “regulatory sandboxes” — testing grounds for new business models that are not protected by current regulation — will only strengthen this appeal further.

While there is clearly much to celebrate, there is also a creeping sentiment that the Nordic region’s digital leadership and momentum is in danger of stalling out. Put another way, the Nordic countries’ biggest threat in digital is more likely from themselves than competitors. To avoid the pitfalls of a digital plateau and to truly get ahead of the transformations impacting every industry will require a greater sense of urgency. The word “disruption” is concededly overused, but the potential to disrupt or be disrupted is a clear and present risk for the region. Digital is an increasingly competitive landscape and there is everything to play for. Changes that could disrupt the Nordics’ digital growth are happening now, so public and private decision-makers need to instill an organizational mindset that helps anticipate and respond to these changes.


Terje Andersen

EY EMEIA Digital Leader