Articles, People & Culture

Demographics and Digital Workplace Maturity

…… Part of The Basics series. First published in February 2016 ……

I’ve been asked at least a hundred times which countries are the strongest in digital workplace maturity. People always ask about their own country. Many assume that the US is more advanced than Europe, Northern Europe more than Southern Europe, and so on. I have always hesitated to give my opinion based on my firsthand experiences and decided it was time to look at some data and see if there are some answers or maybe just some points to think about. First I’ll start with some basics.

The larger the workforce, the more mature the digital workplace.

Organizations with a workforce of over 50,000 people have a much higher digital workplace score than those with fewer than 5,000 people.

The bigger you are, the more you need digital to reach and connect everyone. It is business critical.

I’ve seen this since the very first survey back in 2006.

The bigger the geographical footprint, the more mature the digital workplace.

The more countries the organization operates in, the more advanced the internal digital workplace is. This applies as well to smaller organizations with people located in many different countries. Again, how else can you connect?

Private beats public, sadly.

The private corporate sector has higher digital maturity than the non-private such as government and educational institutions. Unfortunately, education and government are least mature sectors in digital workplace matters. This may be because their focus is strongly towards external people ­— students, citizens, residents, etc. or there may be a deeper reason. Whatever the reason, it’s a sad state of affairs.

The very institutions that govern us and educate us (in theory) have fallen behind, digitally speaking.

National cultures?

The analysis below is based on the country where headquarters is located and not necessarily where there are the most employees. It is important to understand that many global companies have more employees outside than inside the HQ country. (Data collected in most recent survey, Q4 of 2014.)

Using digital workplace scores from the Foundational Framework, I have ranked the top 10 countries where a minimum of 15 organizations participated in the most recent survey. The exceptions are Sweden (12) and Canada (13) where fewer participated, but I decided to include them anyway.

Denmark holds the pole position followed by a close grouping of Canada and Germany.

They are followed by the UK, France and the Netherlands, then by the final grouping of the USA, Switzerland, Sweden and Australia. Denmark and Germany each moved up 5 positions between 2013 and 2014 data, with Denmark taking first place away from the USA who dropped 6 positions.

You can see detail on the spider chart below where certain countries stand out on specific dimensions of the framework. If you’re not familiar with the framework, read the definitions here.

Are certain countries stronger breeding grounds for internal digital initiatives? Criteria to consider:

  • Is there a digitally conducive eco-system of organizations, vendors, agencies and experts?
  • Are there government policies that encourage or discourage digital transformation?
  • Is there an economic context that favors or discourages investment in digital transformation?
  • Are there laws and regulations around privacy that encourage or hinder collaboration and sharing?