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Vision of the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL) of Information Society in 2030: SMART ESTONIA

The vision paper: Smart Estonia

Estonia has made great progress in many aspects. The World Happiness Report ranks us 63rd on a global scale. From the perspective of the traditional indicators of economic development, such as GDP per capita, we rank 48th in the world. We have taken a significant step forward with respect to both of the indexes.
On the other hand, compared to other EU member states, Estonian GDP per capita based on purchasing power standard has remained the same in the last few years. This is supported by the fact that, based on the attractiveness of the business environment, Estonia is in the role of a chaser: the legislative process is slanted towards increasing the administrative load, the structure of the state is labour-intensive, and no attention has been paid to reducing the tax load of jobs that potentially create a lot of added value. 

The development of the ICT sector is more multi-layered than it appears at first sight. On the one hand, the percentage of the added value from the ICT sector in the economy as a whole has greatly increased, the share of e-services has improved at the national level, and large investments have been made in the development of digital skills. On the other hand, the low digitalisation and shortage of labour force in the private sector pose a serious problem.

In order to promote development, some large-scale and brave changes must be made. The second long-term vision paper of the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL) describes how brave changes can create better opportunities for everyone in Estonia.

The vision is supported by three pillars: 1) smart and brave economy; 2) smart people; and 3) smart state with a vision.

The smart and brave economy in 2030 is a cooperation-oriented and the most agile implementer of new solutions and outcomes of research and development in the world, and exporter of this experience. The first milestone is reaching a new level in the development of products. ‘Estonian product 4.0’ offers an increase in added value through servitisation and productisation. This is supported by applied research which forms an integral part of the value chain of the economy. Secondly, it is important to participate in production chains with a high value in which our businesses have a significant role. The third aspect of the powerful and smart economy is the ‘Real-time economy EE’ in which the Estonian private sector must be abruptly digitalised and automated, creating new possibilities for collecting and using data in real time. 

The smart people in 2030 is a singing technological nation, which is larger than its small numbers suggest due to the technology implemented in all fields of life and the development and use of smart labour force. In the education system of the future generations, development of technological skills will be ensured as an organic part of all levels of education. The prerequisites for this are acknowledging the work of our teachers by increasing their wages, as well as preparing teachers for implementing newer teaching methods, with employers being also part of the process. In order to overcome the labour shortage, foreigners who create a lot of added value will be involved, development centres of Estonian companies will be opened in other countries, and vacant job positions will be filled by automatisation and robotisation. 

The smart state with a vision is a state with the most convenient business and living environment and the most efficient organisation possible. Estonia 2030 is an ‘Innovative Estonia’ where the state is deliberately focused on promoting innovation and makes decisions accordingly. Estonia is not a country with cheap labour force, which is also reflected by smart foreign investments. The ‘e-governance 2030’ is not based on the presumption that a small state is expensive to maintain. The state only gets involved in case of market failures. E-services are based on convenient user experience and artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technologies are used to increase efficiency. A radical new procedure of tax distribution has been launched. The living environment in 2030 supports people with good e-healthcare services, simple administration, functioning infrastructure, and a safe and healthy living environment. 

This is smart Estonia.