The unstoppable growth of the digital market in Italy

The Italian digital market recorded a growth of 2.1% in 2023, reaching a total value of 78.7 billion euros. This is an increase higher than the growth of the national GDP in real terms (+0.9%). Data that show how the progress of the PNRR projects and the 4.0 and 5.0 tax credits, in addition to the adoption of the main enabling technologies of digital, are increasing, and will increase, investments in the sector.

“If the global scenario of 2023 was marked by great uncertainty and numerous risks, which largely remain today, the certainty of how innovation is making large and rapid strides forward to offer opportunities to businesses and citizens has never failed. Seizing the potential that technology is offering us, making all the actors involved – public and private – talk to each other is the challenge that must be placed at the top of our priorities. Training, research, cooperation, regulation, investments, each of these and many other aspects is necessary for digital and technology to make their important contribution to improving people’s lives”. This is what Massimo Dal Checco, President of Anitec-Assinform, the Confindustria Association that brings together the main ICT companies, said in commenting on the annual publication on the progress of digital in Italy, conducted in collaboration with NetConsulting cube and presented today in Milan.

In 2023, the general trend of the digital market was positive, recording a growth of 2.1%. However, the different segments that make up this market had different trends. While on the one hand, ICT Services recorded the most significant variation (+9% and 16.2 billion euros), on the other, the Devices and Systems market showed a significant decline (-4.8%), while particularly positive trends also characterized the ICT Software and Solutions segments (+5.8% and 9.1 billion euros) and Digital Content and Advertising (+5.5% and 15.2 billion euros). TLC Network Services, on the other hand, had a minimal variation (+0.2%), reversing however the negative trends that have characterized them in recent years.

“The importance of digital is not only economic – continues Dal Checco – but also social and we can realize this simply by looking at how digital is now pervading our daily lives. However, what we are experiencing now is perhaps more relevant than what has happened in recent years. Incredible availability of data, new computing architectures, intelligent algorithms are just some of the aspects that show us how perhaps, without wanting to be rhetorical, we are entering a new era. And if the complexity and the still limited adoption of some innovations may not make many people aware, the increasingly widespread use of Artificial Intelligence is there for all to see and can open up scenarios some of which are difficult to imagine”.

The digital market is expected to continue its positive path in the coming years, with an average annual growth (2023-2027) of 3.9%. The driver of this trend will continue to be Digital Enablers and Digital Transformers, with an average annual growth rate (2023-2027) of 11.1%. The market value of Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Computing solutions is expected to triple in the period under consideration, thanks to their growing adoption by companies and the increase in use cases across all major economic sectors. But technological innovations – as explained in an in-depth monographic study contained in this edition of the report “Digital in Italy” – are also at the center of one of the most relevant issues characterizing our days: environmental sustainability. In this context, digital plays a critical role. On the one hand, it can have a negative environmental impact, even if the distribution of emissions from the different digital segments varies from country to country and mainly depends on their position in the sector’s value chain. On the other hand, it offers positive opportunities for progress, encouraging the diffusion of energy-efficient hardware and software and the provision of services.

“In recent years – concludes Dal Checco – the acceleration of digitalization has led to an overall increase in the environmental impact of ICT. Despite significant progress in the innovation of increasingly ‘green’ digital technologies, the widespread digital transformation of processes and products still inevitably brings with it a negative net balance, even if improving. The awareness that more needs to be done to balance digital innovation with environmental responsibility is no longer sufficient. To improve the prospects in terms of ‘zero emissions’, a pervasive change of pace is needed, which makes the environmental sustainability of digital evolve from a ‘regulatory scope’ to a true ‘strategic tool’ for organizations and for industrial policy itself. In this sense, several initiatives are possible and desirable. And our Report explores them in depth”.