International research* ordered by our Briefing Centre and conducted among 400+ respondents from 98 countries placed Estonia among the TOP3 most digitally advanced countries in the world. In addition, 30 digitalisation experts were surveyed, most of whom considered Estonia the most digitally advanced country.
The survey period landed on a difficult time slot – during the outburst of the Covid-19 pandemic – which also resulted in some data skewness, namely in an uneven distribution of respondents by country and by sector (public, private, media).
It isn´t all butterflies and rainbows
The study also highlighted the development of the reputation of the digital state. Although the e-Estonia brand is internationally known, knowledge about it is often superficial. More than two-thirds of the respondents could not name any Estonian technology company or e-solution.
“The goal of our center has been the same during our twelve years of operation – to shape and maintain the reputation of e-Estonia internationally and to create valuable business contacts for the Estonian ICT sector. As a result of the survey, we received confirmation that the reputation building work has fully justified itself and brought us a number of new private and public sector contacts to whom we offer our services, ”commented Ave Lauringson, the Managing Director of the e-Estonia Briefing Centre on the results of the reputation survey.
“This is the first study analyzing the international reputation of e-Estonia. One of our wishes was to find out whether it is a PR bubble or whether e-Estonia has a broader value for digitalisation experts, ”added Ave Lauringson. “The study shows that Estonia and e-Estonia’s reputation as the flagship of public sector digitisation go hand in hand, but there is still a lot of work to be done to raise the profile of Estonian companies.”
Experts chime in
As mentioned, the research included in-depth interviews with thirty digitalisation experts – among them Theo Blackwell, the Chief Digital Officer of London; Steven Brady, the CTO of the Barnes Foundation, Ger Baron, the CTO of Amsterdam, Thorsten Camin, the Corporate VP of Henkel to name a few.
The e-Estonia brand
The awareness of the e-Estonia brand among the respondents was following:
- 51% of survey respondents and 80% of the digitalisation experts had heard about the e-Estonia brand;
- 93% of survey respondents who are familiar with the brand feel positive about it;
- 80% of survey respondents who are familiar with the brand believe it is unique.
Dinis Guarda, the founder, and CEO at Ztudium said: “I think the e-Estonia brand is massive, especially for a small country with minimal resources and a tiny population. Just the fact that people like my friends from America move to Estonia or at least create a company there shows how big the brand is. I have huge respect for that.”
Our Briefing Centre and presentations
The e-Estonia Briefing Centre has operated for over twelve years now and is constantly hosting delegations consisting of heads of state, international corporate representatives, and well-known journalists. The most popular topics the delegations prefer to be briefed about are the X-Road, e-ID, cybersecurity, blockchain, and e-health.
A portion of the people was surveyed after attending our (online) briefings, and the praise we received almost made us blush:
“High-class discussions, very professional speakers and outlook.”
“The way Estonia is branding itself is just amazing.”
The overall openness of the respondents to cooperate with Estonia and its ICT sector was high before visiting the Briefing Centre – 81% respondents – and it grew even more after the visit – to 92%.
But as Theo Blackwell, the Chief Digital Officer of London put it: “It really depends on the political will and will to make things more transparent. To implement e-government solutions and digital transmission needs a charismatic leader, without it, it’s difficult.”
The most well-known Estonian tech companies and e-services
There are quite a few tech companies and even more, e-services that are associated with Estonia globally and these two word clouds demonstrate them really well. The e-Estonia story cannot be told without mentioning Skype, naturally, and nowadays two out of seven Estonian unicorns – Bolt and (Transfer)Wise – enjoy worldwide fame. But also two of our bigger e-governance powerhouses Cybernetica and Nortal got mentioned. From the most known Estonian e-services digital voting or i-voting took the lead, with e-residency and e-tax and e-health following closely.
Most sought-after e-services
The delegations visiting Estonia tend to seek out some services more than others – with the possible implementation in their respective countries in mind.
The survey respondents were posed with the question of which e-services would bring the greatest value to their home countries. There were some clear winners: e-Residency, i-Voting, with e-Tax, e-Identity, and e-Health named as the most essential.
Which countries have imported Estonian ICT services the most?
The largest countries importing Estonian ICT services (average 2014-2018):
The largest share of Estonian ICT services from total ICT services import (average 2014-2018):
- Malta (39.7%)
- Latvia (23.4%)
- Lithuania (14.4%)
- Cyprus (2.8%)
- Finland (1.7%)
- Ireland (0.7%)
- Sweden (0.6%)
The “e-Estonia international reputation survey” was carried out as part of the EU structural funds support scheme ‘Raising Public Awareness about the Information Society’ and was financed through the EU Regional Development Fund. You can access the full survey here.