The release of the European Commission's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is always a much-awaited moment, full of curiosity and attention. A detailed monitoring of the level of digitisation of individual states and their progresses. The DESI report identifies areas that require priority action by states, through the analysis of four macro-dimensions: connectivity, human capital, digital technology integration and public services. 

Unfortunately, the monitoring has never been particularly generous towards Italy. There is still a lot of work to be done as far as digitisation is concerned, and in fact the recently published DESI report 2022 places Italy 18th among the 27 EU Member States. A result, however, that should not discourage us, because significant progress is being observed: the share of companies using electronic invoicing is improving, for which Italy is first on the continent. There is also good performance on the adoption level of medium-high sophistication Cloud services (38% against the EU average of 26%). The share of SMEs with at least basic level of digital intensity is growing (we are, however, lagging far behind in the adoption of eCommerce). There is progress in terms of Broadband service deployment and network deployment. In the sub-dimension related to 5G, Italy manages to reach the podium, but there remain some major shortcomings in terms of coverage of very high-capacity networks.

Compared to the previous survey of 2021, with regard to the level of digitisation of the economy and society, Italy gains two positions, moving closer to the European average, with a score of 49.3 compared to 52.3 EU.

This is good, but we should not delude ourselves; attention is growing but the shortcomings are still considerable, considering that more than half of Italian citizens do not even have basic digital skills. The percentage of digital specialists in the Italian workforce is below the EU average, and prospects for the future are weakened by low enrolment and graduation rates in the ICT sector. We are third to last in Europe for population with at least basic digital skills (42%), against an EU average of 56%, and fourth to last for advanced digital skills (22%), against an EU average of 31%. The share of companies offering ICT training to their employees stands at 16%, against a European average of 20%. Italy is also last in the continent for the share of ICT graduates out of the total population with a university degree (1.3% compared to an EU value of 3.9%).

​Italy is making important progresses, but it is not enough: the percentage of digital specialists in the Italian workforce is lower than the EU average, and the share of companies that have offered ICT training to their employees stands at 16%. We are last in the continent for the share of ICT graduates in the total graduated population

Data on companies also gives us pause for thought. In fact, only 60% of Italian SMEs have reached at least a basic level of digital intensity, although the figure is growing; the use of Cloud services, in particular, is growing considerably, but the spread of technologies such as Big Data and AI is still very limited.

As far as digital services of the Public Administration are concerned, only 40% of Italian Internet users make use of digital public services, compared to an EU average of 65%, but this is a trend that has been growing strongly for a couple of years, registering a 10% increase between 2020 and 2022, in the face of an increasing digitisation of the PA and public services, starting with the publication of the Cloud Italia strategy.

In short, the road taken is the right one, but it is not enough: other countries are running, competitiveness comes without discounts. The PNRR put in place by Italy is a very important resource, not to be missed. 25.1% of the 191 billion allocated is earmarked precisely for digital transition: necessary investments, to be exploited to the full, while committing ourselves to achieving all the objectives on schedule.​