This year will see rapid growth in government spend on IT across Europe, according to research from IDC, as the deadlines for the eEurope Action Plan approach. For the public sector, the 2005 objective is that Europe should have "modern online public services".
In 2003, around 12 per cent of total spend on IT in government went towards making government services available electronically. The research outfit predicts that by 2008, Europe will spend $4.2bn each year on e-government projects. "Western European governments are moving toward integrated e-government, which will result in an average annual growth of 10.5% of IT service spending for e-government over the next five years," said Massimiliano Claps, an analyst in IDC's public sector group.
As well as tracking government IT spend, IDC has evaluated both the sophistication of the government service available online, and the readiness of the population to engage with those services.
The research reveals that a large portion of the population in Southern Europe doesn't have the technology to access the kinds of services the governments are offering, even when those services compare favourably with those on offer in the Northern European countries. Denmark and Sweden lead the pack in the terms of sophistication of the services available, and Italy is not far behind.
Norway, Sweden and the UK made the biggest improvements to services available between 2003 and 2004, IDC says, while Switzerland is trailing behind. IDC suggests this could be due to the decentralised structure of the Swiss government. ®