On August 12, 2021, within the framework of the All-Russian Forum “Digital Evolution” in Kaluga, a round table was held on the concept of the National Index for the Digital Economy Development of the Russian Federation.
Yuri Zarubin, deputy director of the Department for Coordination of Programs and Projects of the Ministry of Digital Economy of the Russian Federation, spoke about general approaches to the development of the National Index for the Digital Economy Development of the Russian Federation. According to the speaker, the global goal of creating the index is to help various categories of stakeholders (federal and regional governments, business, scientific and expert community, citizens) make informed decisions that would contribute to digital transformation in the regions. In turn, this should lead to an increase in the quality of life and to ensure equal access to digital technologies.
The objectives of the index include, firstly, assessing, comparing and ranking Russian regions by the level of digital transformation. Secondly, the definition of the strengths and reserves for the growth of digital transformation in the constituent entities of Russia. Thirdly, the formation of an effective tool for making management decisions, as well as the determination of priority areas of state support in the field of digital transformation of regions. “Management decisions here can be very different – from making a decision on the need to allocate certain subsidies based on the gaps that the rating should identify, right up to the writing of important regulatory legal acts,” explained Yuri Zarubin.
To calculate the index, in addition to official statistics from Rosstat, federal authorities and sectoral autonomous non-profit organizations, it is planned to use data from telecom operators and the banking sector. For the formation of comparative analytics, a survey of representatives of regional authorities is additionally carried out. “All indicators <…> will be rechecked – the reliability of this rating will be very high,” the speaker noted.
At the moment, Lomonosov Moscow State University, who previously won a two-year contract for the development of this index. It is represented by the NTI Competence Center for Big Data Storage and Analytics at the Moscow University (NTI Center for Big Data at MSU), which is the direct developer of the index. MSU has finalized the concept of the index, updated the composition of the indicators included in it and the methodology for their calculation. The index will be elaborated annually. Tentatively, its first results are planned to be publicly presented in February-March 2022. Russian regions will be divided into three groups: leading regions, developing regions and regions that need support.
When developing the index, it is also planned to hold a series of discussions with experts and representatives of the regions in order to identify the reserves for increasing its effectiveness.
Oleg Karasev, vice-rector of Moscow State University, co-head of the commercialization area of the NTI Center for Big Data, during his presentation spoke about the methodological features of the future index and the indicators underlying the concept of its construction.
“This index is important from the point of view of supporting management decision-making processes not only at the state level, but also at the corporate one. And even at the level of citizens who consume certain digital services,” the speaker emphasized.
The conceptual basis of the digital transformation process adopted by the developers correlates with the long-term international practice of constructing the corresponding indices, the regulatory documents in force in Russia, as well as the theoretical works of leading world scientists. This methodological framework takes into account three components:
Factors (human capital, investment climate, institutional environment, digital infrastructure, science, technology and innovation);
Stakeholders (government sector, business sector, science and education sector, household sector);
Achieved social and economic effects.
According to Oleg Karasev, the structure of the index being created contains six main indicators, or sub-indices:
- Institutional environment (management of digital transformation of the region, regulatory environment);
- Infrastructure and access (network, information infrastructure);
- Digital transformation potential (investment climate, science, technology and innovation, human capital);
- Digital transformation of the public sector (public administration, healthcare, education, urban economy and construction, public transport);
- Digital transformation of business (integration of digital technologies into business processes);
- Digital transformation of society (digital consumption, digital security).
The indicators that are taken into account when calculating the index are grouped into the final integral value – from 0 to 100 points. “All indicators included in the rating are normalized accordingly. This is important for the consolidated presentation of indicators that are initially incomparable with each other, have different units of measurement and distribution laws,” said Oleg Karasev.
Based on the results of calculating the index for each region, a passport will be formed, which, in addition to information about the place in the rating, will also indicate the contribution of digitalization to GRP, the scale of the ICT sector, characteristics of the quality of regional policy in the field of digital development and specific recommendations that could positively affect to the level of digital transformation.
As part of the round table, it was noted that when calculating the National Index of the Digital Economy Development of the Russian Federation, the results of the rating of “digital maturity” of the regions will be taken into account.
The speakers with reports were also:
- Vasily Slyshkin, director of the Department of Digital Transformation and Coordination of Budgetary Expenditures of the Ministry of Finance;
- Yuri Hohlov, chairman of the Board of directors of the Institute of the Information Society;
- Alexander Zorin, director for Regional policy, ANO “Digital Economy”;
- Sofia Pavlova, head of the Digital transformation leader program, Center for Training Leaders and Teams of Digital Transformation, RANEPA;
- Pavel Shilyaev, director of the Project office for integration solutions, PJSC Rostelecom.
Experts of the event were:
- Galina Ermilova, independent expert;
- Alexander Shvetsov, deputy director of the Federal Research Center “Informatics and Management” of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Yuri Hohlov, speaking, expressed not only his personal opinion, but also the position of the expert group “Architecture of digital government” of the working group “Digital public administration of ANO “Digital Economy”, which he leads.
He noted that questions are often asked whether such an index is needed at all, what it serves and what tasks it solves. This is not a new exercise: the history of rating Russian regions on the use of ICT for development dates back to the beginning of the 2000s. Such a rating is definitely needed, since it contributes to the solution of the task set in the Strategy for the Information Society Development in the Russian Federation (2008), namely, overcoming the information / digital divide between the regions. In accordance with the Strategy, the differences between the regions in terms of integral indicators of digital development should not exceed 2 times. This task was previously solved within the framework of the federal target program “Electronic Russia” and the state program “Information Society”, and now – within the framework of individual federal projects of the national program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation”. But there is no need to simply rank the regions, one should assess the difference in the level of digital maturity between the lagging regions and the leading regions and move towards providing all citizens of the country with equal opportunities through the use of digital technologies.
To what extent does the proposed Index serve this social problem? At this stage, we must first of all focus on goal-setting, which Alexander Shvetsov spoke about in his speech, and on the corresponding set of indicators. We need to highlight and explicitly present those indicators that characterize the achievement of socio-economic effects due to digital transformation:
- What is the contribution of digital transformation to GRP?
- How is the quality of services growing? How satisfied are our citizens and organizations with these services? How much time is shortened for the provision of public services? How convenient are public services?
- What changes are taking place in the sphere of social services, in the labor market? Etc.
In characterizing digital maturity, according to Yu. Hohlov, we need to look more not at the quantitative indicators that we have learned to measure, but at the effects. So far, Rosstat and other authorities are collecting statistics related to the previous stage of the information society development, when we were simply glad that we connected more schools or medical organizations, installed more computers, and got more Internet users in the country. But we did not look at what socio-economic benefits are derived from all this, which should be at the forefront of the formation of the National Index, when characterizing digital maturity. By itself, it (digital maturity) is hardly needed. This is the first and foremost message that developers should be guided by.
The second problem is that we do not have this knowledge of digital transformation. We do not have data on radical, disruptive changes that digital technologies bring with them, we do not know how to collect them using federal statistical observation. Therefore, we must devote a significant part of our efforts and resources to collecting data for new indicators and learn how to calculate them. Many expert groups in the world have already started doing this. For example, within the G20 framework, a working group on measuring the digital economy has been operating for several years and formulates recommendations on what to look for. So far, this is not taken into account when constructing the National Index of the Digital Economy Development in the Russian Federation.
His third thesis Yu. Hohlov addressed by to the Ministry of Digital Development and other authorities: we must very clearly build the decomposition of indicators from the federal level to the regional one. We must proceed from national goals, and not only from the point of view of digital development. Speaking about the lower, minimum acceptable level of digital maturity, it is proposed not to reason in the project paradigm. We need to talk about how certain digital technologies are used, and they can be used in different projects. We must measure how digital technologies affect a particular sector. A very important point is the production and implementation of these technologies both at the national and regional levels. If there are no companies in the region that are able to at least modify the proposed standard solutions, then this means that this region will have to pay not to its developers, but to strangers, and the money will go to the economies of other regions (or other countries). Therefore, it is necessary to support the digital sector of the economy in the regions. This is also a very important factor in digital development that needs to be measured and taken into account.
According to Yuri Hohlov, in monitoring the digital economy development in the country, it is necessary to make another “approach to the weight”, to revise the system of indicators, especially for the level of digital maturity of industries. This should be done within the framework of a broad discussion with the involvement of all stakeholders: government at all levels, business, the scientific and educational community, and civil society. Now is not the time to discuss individual indicators of the proposed Index, until a conceptual framework has been formed that takes into account the effects of digital transformation.
Sources: NTI Center for Big Data at MSU, IIS