“Denmark was rather brave in its early adoption of digital technologies”: an interview with DI Digital’s new Director Rikke Zeberg
Rikke Zeberg was recently named Director of DI Digital, one of DIGITALEUROPE’s national trade association members. We spoke to Rikke about her new role, what Denmark and Europe are doing right when it comes to digital, and how DI Digital and DIGITALEUROPE can join forces to accelerate Europe’s and Denmark’s digital transformation.
DI Digital is a Danish national association that brings together Denmark’s digital technology companies. The association focuses on promoting the digitisation of Denmark’s industry as well as society as a whole, with the goal of maintaining the country at the forefront of digital progress. Rikke herself has over 20 years of industry experience and is one of Europe’s leading voices for digitalisation of key services, from healthcare to the public sector.
Rikke Zeberg, Director of DI Digital
DIGITALEUROPE: Rikke, thank you for speaking to us, and congratulations for your new appointment! Tell us about yourself: what drew you to the digital sector?
Rikke: I started working with digitalisation when I was at Denmark’s Ministry of Finance as part of its Digital Task Force. I have always been interested in the possibilities that digitalisation can open up for society. For instance, digitalisation can help us improve our sustainability through new and innovative solutions. Furthermore, digital transformation has made the private and public sectors more efficient, for example by developing new ways of data storage and work procedures, which also creates increased wealth in our society as well as for our companies. The fascinating possibilities related to digitalisation have truly been shown during the Covid-19 pandemic, where we in Denmark have been able to adjust many of our work procedures rapidly due to a solid digital foundation.
DIGITALEUROPE: What do you see as the biggest opportunities and challenges in your new role as Director of DI Digital?
Rikke: I see a great opportunity to make a difference for our members. All our members should think of new ways of using technology and data, in order to increase their competitiveness and value of their business. A key objective for us at DI Digital is to strengthen the association’s digital capabilities, so we can support our members to better understand what digital opportunities are out there. This includes knowledge about IT security, which is important.
One of the biggest challenges we are facing is the major demand for workforce in the ICT and technology sectors. Currently, this is a demand we are not meeting, which is why I see a need for increased education of more electronic engineers, for example. In this way we would be able to create a sufficient workforce with the qualifications we need, in order for us to stay competitive in the ICT industry.
We would also like for more women to choose a career in the ICT industry. We have not been good enough at getting women to undertake an engineering degree in the ICT area. Therefore, this is a challenge, but I am certain that we will be able to find a good solution which will create even more qualified engineers for the ICT industry in the future.
DIGITALEUROPE: What is Denmark doing right when it comes to the digital sector that could be of inspiration to the rest of the EU? On the other hand, what lessons could Denmark learn from Europe and the other Member States?
Rikke: Denmark was rather brave in its early adoption of digital technologies in the public sector, including consistent use of mandatory digital communication between government and citizens. This meant, on the one hand, that the public sector has pushed digital transformation, causing some resistance in society, but on the other hand it gave a jump start to digitalisation. I believe in terms of lessons learned that one should be ready to make a head start in digitalisation but at the same time also be ready to make mistakes.
Denmark has a lot to learn from the EU and other Member States, especially from the legislation being put forward right now. We have to make major systemic changes, which is something a small country is not the best at, on areas such as data, cybersecurity, digital competences, cloud infrastructure, artificial intelligence etc. This is not something any country can do alone but rather together.
And we do have the opportunity to work with other countries to create better digital solutions and attract new ideas that are valuable for us, but at the same time helping other countries too. Collaboration with foreign countries is very important, so that we have access to new solutions and technologies which can strengthen our own digital development.
DIGITALEUROPE: How do you see DI Digital and DIGITALEUROPE’s collaboration moving forward?
Rikke: DIGITALEUROPE is an important platform for DI Digital. First of all, DIGITALEUROPE is a great help in delivering the information we need to advise our members, and secondly, it is an important platform to interact with other national associations.
Going forward we would hope to see increased focus on key digital issues, for instance, data and cybersecurity, which would enable us to deliver more value as DIGITALEUROPE member, and perhaps strengthen DIGITALEUROPE’s own advocacy work.
DIGITALEUROPE: What is the top digital priority for Europe, in your opinion?
Rikke: Fostering a data economy that actually works and creates innovation and new business models – not just for the digital sector but throughout the economy.
DIGITALEUROPE: Member States have a big role in ensuring Europe’s Digital Decade lives up to its name. How can national associations help achieve this goal? What are DI Digital’s key priorities at the national level?
Rikke: Some issues are well handled at the national level, where associations should play a major role. Issues such as digital transformation, digital competences, infrastructure and digitisation of public services will be key priorities for DI Digital.