One of mankind’s greatest difficulties is accomplishing sustainable economic growth. The United Nations has encouraged a scholarly line centered on sustainable economic growth under the context of sustainability. As a result, this research concentrated on the company’s long-term economic growth, particularly advancement through innovation and digitalization. Academic scholars recognize the significance of digitalization for sustainable and economic development, although there is discussion in the literature about two conflicting viewpoints. On the one hand, some argue believe advances in Digital technology promote GDP growth, while others argue that there is no link between the variables. As a result, I undertook a study to determine whether the investment in ICT leads to long-term economic growth (as measured by Gross domestic product for each capita) in European companies. To explain the research, I employed Eurostat data using the partial least-squares (PLS) approach. As a result, this study found that investment in technology helps European companies achieve long-term economic growth. These businesses should concentrate their efforts on improving bandwidth in places where communications are lacking, and also teaching residents mostly in usage and advancement of digitalization to achieve greater growth through all these techniques and tools.
The integration of digital technology in business is integral for European countries as it helps in improving service delivery, customer experience, market expansion, and gaining a competitive advantage. The progressive adoption of digital technology in the European Union has significantly improved business processes and social relations. The development has improved the creation of connection networks between the value chains, products, and business models. The approach has improved the adoption of digital technologies that are considered autonomous, networked, and intelligent technologies with physical technologies such as robotics, the internet of things, 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles that create opportunities for business development and innovation in society. Digital technologies enable businesses to leverage new opportunities and promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and the development of sustainable technologies. The digital sovereignty of European countries relies on the capabilities to extract, store, and process data that guarantee security, safety, trust, and fundamental rights of the users. The European Commission DESI Report of 2021 showed that Denmark, Finland, and Sweden are among the countries embracing digital technologies while poor performers include Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. The majority of businesses in Europe are integrating digital technologies in their operations such as the use of big data analytics, cloud computing, social media, artificial intelligence, e-commerce, and electronic information sharing.
Digital technologies are critical for alleviating poverty, enhancing education and health services, as well as generating money for the poor. As a result, the purpose of all these digital technologies is to stimulate economic growth, social progress, as well as liberty, and democracy (Balocco et al., 2012). Digital technologies are increasingly playing a critical role in numerous businesses. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) use information and communication technology (ICT) to assist their processes to improve their services and goods. Because of their limited resources and the lack of digital technology expertise, SMEs require assistance from technological vendors during the implementation stage (Hapsari et al 2021). In professional and academic literary works, little consideration has been devoted to business practices and tactics of digital technology providers, as well as SMEs find it hard to understand the features of various technology suppliers.
In the European Union, the concepts of digital transformation and integration in business are considered a strategic area for development. The union has strived to establish itself as the most productive, innovative, and sustainable business environment; thus, the integration of digital technology is prioritized. There is continuous adoption of digital technology in business practices with increased access to the internet and digital technologies (Hapsari et al 2021). The digitalization of the economy of the European Union focuses on automation and robotization of production components which has opened opportunities for businesses. The holistic stance on digital transformations in the European Union considers how businesses, individuals, and the economies of the union operate (Balocco et al., 2012). The focus of adopting digital technologies is premised on the networking and integration of operational systems such as information technologies, digitally-controlled machines, and the integration of people into the use of the internet in their daily operations (Andreopoulou, 2012). The digital transformation has played an integral role in improving the computing power, the interaction of machines and people, increasing the amount of data available, and promoting connectivity. The approach has witnessed an increased improvement of digital instructions to the physical world as exemplified in 3D printing and advanced robotics. Consequently, the adoption of digital technologies in businesses has enhanced the economy, information systems, and the development of new technologies.
The mild sustainable approach is a tendency throughout the academia that promotes sustaining usage or income per capita which does not decline with time. Underneath this notion, several scholars have introduced the criteria of impartiality in allocation (Mason & Lee, 2018, June). This method, on the other hand, promotes maintaining the overall economic plan’s reproductive success to sustain real per capita GDP levels of growth. Anand and Sen (2000) agree with Solow’s viewpoint, which asserts that longevity is an issue of fair allocation, for example, disseminating well-being among present and future generations. The writers believe that maintaining production efficiency is not like leaving the world in its current state. As a result, we must protect future societies’ opportunities. The ecologically modified GDP, as per Hartwick (1990), is a good metric of sustainable growth. This is effective if all of the pieces are accurately priced but when it is updated with the latest economic condition. The evaluation is also appropriate for future projections that alleviate shortfalls shortly, as well as natural capital degradation is taken into account. If such value will not diminish, the economy is said to be sustainable.
The United Nations formulated a series of “Sustainable Development Indicators” (United Nations, 2001) in this vein. European corporations discover an economic block inside these metrics, and even in this block, they discover the GDP per capita as a driver of sustainable growth. If corporations concentrate on GDP per capita, they should always state that current studies have found a correlation between GDP per capita and ICT. Therefore, as matter of fact, the impact of ICT deployment aids mostly in the promotion of economic growth, as well as some researcher’s state those ICT initiatives enhance productivity. Several current researches has used the neoclassical growth paradigm to investigate the impact of ICT on long-term growth in the economy (Durusu-Ciftci et al., 2017). Also, there is another school of thought that casts doubt on the favorable links connecting digital technology and economic growth. Even though the majority of work examining the relationship involving digital technology as well as economic expansion implies a warm relationship, several studies have confirmed null correlations (Bertschek et al., 2013). The outcomes are very far from uniform.
Based on the study difficulty created by academia’s lack of agreement mostly on the influence of ICT on economic progress (Mayer et al., 2020), as well as the necessity for long-term economic progress, I believe it is reasonable to offer the below research question: Can the integration of digital technology have a favorable impact on the economic growth of a company as measured by GDP per capita? To address this study topic, I examined the effect of digital technology on Output development in European firms.
The research used Eurostat tools to estimate the usage of ICT to achieve these objectives. I undertook a study to determine whether an investment in ICT leads to long-term economic growth (as measured by Gross domestic product for each capita) in European companies. This foundation is good to utilize for two main reasons. Firstly, because it contains a huge set of metrics, this not only allows for the verification of the validity of such an ICT correlation between economic developments but also allows for the organization of digital technology indicators which serve most to a company’s economic growth. This enabled the research to forecast if the five dimensions under consideration have an optimistic variance that was the most impressive outcome. According to the findings, “digital public services” seemed to have the biggest influence on real per capita GDP growth. As a result, it has the greatest effect on economic growth.
The study seeks to explore the adoption of digital technologies in enhancing the sustainability of businesses. As such, the study explored the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development’s notion (UNCSD) of sustainability, which defined sustainable growth as “development that meets present needs without jeopardizing future generations’ ability to satisfy their own needs” (United Nations, 2001). The most widely accepted definition of “sustainable development” is provided by the Brundtland Commission (Brundtland, 1985), which states that it is “progress that meets present demands without jeopardizing future generations’ capability to meet their own needs.” Furthermore, Costanza and Patten (1995) describe “sustainable development” as “the persistence of a system’s integrity and structure over time.” The crucial issue upon which the study focused, in my opinion, is indeed the “weak sustainability” approach proposed by Anand and Sen (2000), which states that “sustainable development” must not allow usage or income per capita to decrease dramatically, and that ingestion and income per capita should be distributed equally amongst the population (Mason & Lee, 2018). The Work Program on Sustainable Development Metrics was adopted by the UNCSD in 1995, as well as the outcome was the Sustainable Development Indicators Chart. The research identifies GDP per capita to become a Sustainable Development indicator under this review, about the Economic Activity sub-theme, which is part of the Economic Structure Theme and allows to focus the research on its development (United Nations, 2001).
The integration of digital transformation is an interdisciplinary field with varied definitions in the literature, both in broader and narrow terms. In the narrow term, the concept of digital transformation is explained as the organizational change in the business operations caused by the adoption of digital technologies (Hapsari et al 2021). On the other hand, the broader perspective considers digital transformation as a critical industrial and technological policy. The European Union encourages its members to embrace digital transformation to promote social and technological innovation (Taher, 2021). The approach is integral in shaping the digital economies and information society. The integration of digital technology in the European Union focuses on the ability of businesses to enhance e-commerce and digitalization of their services. Business digitalization considers five indicators that include Radio Frequency Identification, cloud solutions, e-invoices, electronic information sharing, and social media. To understand the integration of digital technologies, the use of e-commerce explores the percentage of businesses that adopts e-commerce in their operations, the business turnovers, and the cross-border transactions and business (Moure, 2019). The Digital Intensity Index in European Union considers the integration of digital technology by firms based on the availability of ICT specialists, mobile internet devices, use of websites, customer relationship management, supply chain networks, enterprise resource planning, and online turnovers. In European Union, Denmark is among the leading countries with the highest digital intensity index while low adoption of digital technology by Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Latvia, and France. Studies show that more than half of businesses in these countries have failed to embrace digital technologies in their operations. The companies that embraced digital technologies are those with computers and simple websites; however, their online footprints are missing. Studies show that digital transformation in European Union is enhanced by social media, fast broadband connections, and mobile applications.
Business Model Theory
The business model theory contends that business development is driven by the technology-based firms that appropriated and created economic value at unprecedented magnitude and pace, as well as the strategic management and entrepreneurship that fails to explain the value creation. When the Apple Company developed its iPhone products, the dominating theoretical basis was premised on resource-view and industry-based perspectives (Climent & Haftor, 2021). The view was that the mobile phone market was difficult to start owing to the high barriers of new entrants. The theoretical underpinnings such as the Schumpeterian innovation, strategic networks, transaction cost economics, and network externalities offer a slight opinion on how modern companies are powered by digital technologies (Andreopoulou, 2012). The theoretical and empirical forces encouraged the scholars to experiment with the two concepts that resulted in the basis for the business model theory. The business model theory plays an integral role in explaining how companies deliver, create, and appropriate value. The business model theory is criticized for its ambiguity since there is no consensus on the architecture of its delivery, creation, and capture mechanisms (Climent & Haftor, 2021). The architecture of business model theory contends that it spans the activities, actors, value exchanges, and transactions that are designed to develop systemic attributes in the current business environment.
The business model theory contends that the adoption of technology plays an integral role in an organization since it helps in promoting transaction, marketing, and governing activities. The businesses such as Uber and Airbnb have embraced the business model theory in their operations as they use technologies in their operations (Climent & Haftor, 2021). While the traditional companies operated brick and mortar, the current technology and digital-based firms lack physical locations. They operate online with a minimal physical presence, which is designed to reduce operational costs, efficiency, and better consumer experience. To understand the business model theory, Climent and Haftor (2021) considers the business model themes. Climent and Haftor (2021) say that “A business model theme is crucial because it explains variation in firm performance and thereby complements other factors that co-condition performance; namely, product-specific, firm-specific, industry-specific, and country-specific performance conditioners.” The business model themes propose efficiency, novelty, lock-in, and complementarity. The approach explains how companies integrate their operations, actors, transactions, activities, governance, and value exchanges to differentiate themselves in the market (Climent & Haftor, 2021). The efficient business model embraces an architecture that uses fewer resources and efforts to support business operations (Hilty & Aebischer, 2015). For instance, Spotify’s business model embraces efficiency as it is premised on the streaming of music content rather than downloading file formats. The adoption of digital integration in businesses is integral in enhancing performance and productivity.
The complementarity business model relates to the ability of an organization to synchronize its service providers such as providing goods and services, processes, activities, resources, and actors. The criterion for providing complementarity includes the realization of value creation (Climent & Haftor, 2021). The complementarities are effective in the travel agencies that offer consumers multiple products and services such as accommodation, transport, tour guides, travel insurance, recommendations, and financing. The approach seeks to ensure that consumers receive services that optimize their experience (Bieser & Hilty, 2018). The last model is the lock-in architecture that seeks to discourage actors in business models such as mediators, customers, suppliers, and partners from leaving, migrating, or switching to competitors or substitutes. The lock-in is a concept realized using several approaches that includes providing sunk costs for the actors such as adaptation of assets and investments in learning. Also, lock-in can be realized through indirect and direct market externalities that help in creating value through the business model networks, which means that providing more users with quality services enhances the value of a company (Moure, 2019). The value of a company plays a role in attracting and retaining customers; hence, increasing its value in society (Climent & Haftor, 2021). For instance, one mobile phone customers lack value but millions of customers create value. On the other hand, the indirect network relates to providing services that attract users and its providers such as more users in the Google Play and Apple App Store means an increase in the number of developers, new apps, better apps, and more users attracted.
The business model theory contends that firms adopt digital technologies since it offers economic value to the company, which explains why some firms are better than others in their performance. The theory is effective in describing why some companies perform better than others because they adopted digital technology. The theory contends that there are reasons for companies embracing digital technologies in their operations since it improves productivity, improves performance, reduces wastage and errors, as well as gains a competitive edge (Kostoska & Kocarev, 2019). In essence, the adoption of digital technology enables a company to improve efficiency, which makes it difficult for firms to imitate others owing to risk reduction and the inability to innovate. Also, the technology helps companies to improve efficiency and promote novelty that relates to the potentially disruptive effects of new technology (Hapsari et al 2021). It helps in providing complementarity, which relates to alternative approaches to innovation that reduces transaction costs and improve efficiency. The adoption of technology helps firms to improve efficiency and market disruption improves performance, profitability, and reduced costs. As aforementioned, companies such as Spotify stream their music online rather than distributing music physically as traditionally conducted.
Human Development and Economic Sustainability Theory
Human Development and Economic Sustainability theory show concern for human progress in the present and the future are both addressed in this essay. It uses the idea of ethical “universalism”—a fundamental requirement for the objectivity of claims—applied both within and between generations to make the case for sustainable human growth (Hapsari et al 2021). Intergenerational equity is frequently associated with economic sustainability; however, defining what should be sustained is not always clear-cut. The crucial issue upon which the study focused, in my opinion, is indeed the “weak sustainability” approach proposed by Anand and Sen (2000), which states that “sustainable development” must not allow usage or income per capita to decrease dramatically, and that ingestion and income per capita should be distributed equally amongst the population (Mason & Lee, 2018, June). The Work Program on Sustainable Development Metrics was adopted by the UNCSD in 1995, as well as the outcome was the Sustainable Development Indicators Chart. The research identifies GDP per capita to become a Sustainable Development indicator under this review, about the Economic Activity sub-theme, which is part of the Economic Structure Theme and allowing focusing the research on its development (United Nations, 2001).
Digital Technology and Environmental Sustainability
International organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) give digital technology a critical role in building a sustainable future, particularly in reducing poverty as well as fostering social equality and democratization (Balocco et al., 2012). From a much more scholarly standpoint, researchers that emphasize the role of digital technology in achieving long-term growth goals can be found. For instance, Bhujabal and Sethi (2020) give a list of Digital technology benefits, including worldwide integration, which allows emerging companies to adopt as well as gain from developed-country technologies. Also, digital technologies have the potential to conquer both cultural and geographical hurdles, promoting integration among sophisticated as well as non-advanced economic systems and transparency in government through reduced corruption. Bhujabal and Sethi (2020) content that population exposure to technology opportunities as well as information. Toader et al (2018) list several studies that demonstrate ICT’s favorable economic effects as a whole. Those that were closely related to long-term development for all of this research include the fact that it enhances funding by eliminating informational asymmetries and lowering the company’s costs, resulting in the more sustainable development of entrepreneurship especially micro and small firms (Chen et al., 2018). Despite regional disparities, there is a sense of cohesion (Pradhan et al., 2018). Digital technology plays an integral role in promoting integration, not just for economic operators, but for the entire society, convenient and simple accessibility to data is vital (Sepehrdoust & Ghorbanseresht, 2019). Teleworking provides access to human capital (Meijers, 2014). Corporate communication that is both fast and effective saves money and boosts productivity (Kim, 2018). It is also feasible to uncover examples that are not limited to typical metrics like economic progress. Kim’s (2018) work inside the realm of education stresses the ability of digital technology to alleviate educational inequities. In particular, the research demonstrated how using Technology might help narrow the gap between immigrant as well as non-immigrant pupils in America.
The Environment and Digitalization
Some researchers believe that digital technology plays a critical role in the environment. Such technological advances are crucial not just for economic progress but also for environmental sustainability because they can cut carbon emissions (Batool et al., 2019). It is indeed possible to safeguard the environment and improve ecological sustainability and regional sustainable growth by putting them into practice (Andreopoulou, 2012). Furthermore, “they have improved real people’s lives by allowing users a tremendous deal of freedom” (Hong & Thakuriah, 2018). Researches that have created specific theoretical perspectives on digitalization to achieve sustainable growth are an indication of the benefits that academics place on Technology in terms of sustainability (Kostoska & Kocarev, 2019). The influence of digitalization, on the other hand, is not entirely good. In this regard, some researchers believe that the environmental consequences of Technology can be classified in two ways. Direct as well as indirect impacts are possible (Bieser & Hilty, 2018). The direct impacts, also known as first-order implications, are linked to the need for energy and materials during a digital technology software life cycle (Schien et al., 2013). The direct impacts of digital technology products include resources consumed, the pollutants produced, as well as the consumption and disposal of digital technology items (Bieser & Hilty, 2018). Indirect impacts, also known as second-order impacts, are the results of using digital technology in other domains that require environmental changes, such as consumption changes (Hilty & Aebischer, 2015). Truby is such an example of a topic sparked by digitalization’s environmental effects where the writer focuses on Bitcoin technology.
There are empirical studies that emphasize the role of digitalization in terms of sustainability. Batool et al. (2019), for instance, suggest that digital technology aids in the near/long reduction of environmental deterioration in the South Korean economy. Ruth (2011) determined that it would have been reasonable to use Digital technologies to construct green surroundings, which might lead to lower carbon dioxide emissions, based on his studies on Digital technology as well as environmental conservation. This writer centered his research on the notion that the digital revolution is critical in industries such as waste treatment, smart networks, and big data technologies. Moyer and Hughes (2012) recommended developing digital technology infrastructure and services to decrease the price of renewable energy sources, with the predicted consequence being a reduction in emissions. As a result, they estimated that the total carbon pollution would indeed be lowered in the long run as a result of this approach. Jacob (2018) explored the correlation between urbanization, global warming, and digitalization. Different concepts linked to digital technology, such as smart logistics techniques, smart buildings, as well as smart delivery systems, were mentioned by this writer as important elements in emissions reduction. Shabanpour et al (2018) investigated the possibilities of working remotely in Chicago as well as concluded that this can become a valuable tool not just for congestion reduction but mostly for reducing car emissions. In a similar vein, Giovanis (2018) found that working remotely can become a method for reducing congestion levels and improving air quality in his Swiss study from 2002 through 2013. In a review of 44 nations in Sub-Saharan Africa from 2000 through 2012, Asongua et al. (2017) looked at the effects of Digitalization as well as Carbon dioxide emission on comprehensive human evolution. His studies suggest that digital technology can be used to reduce pollution in human evolution.
The adoption of digital technology helps to promote long-term development. Several studies discussed various methods wherein digitization promotes sustainability including the use of information systems (Elliot, 2007), big data software solutions (Van Heddeghem, et al., 2014); power efficiency, as well as waste treatment (Houghton, 2009), smart and sustainable metro areas (Kramers et al., 2014), zero emissions (Lee & Brahmasrene, 2014), global warming education, are some of the topics covered (Alexandru et al., 2013). Digital technology promotes the sustainability of business processes, integration of information, and practices that promote business growth and expansion. Andreopoulou (2012), highlighted four components within which digital technology promotes ecological sustainability: first, emissions reduction via Digital technologies which optimizes energy consumption; second, increased awareness of environmental issues via dissemination of information, mentoring, as well as schooling. The third was clear communication for green initiatives and channels; and, finally, ecologically sustainable oversight. This idea encourages citizens to participate in decision-making, while also encouraging administrations to become more accountable, open, as well as effective.
Digital technology and Growth Concepts
The deployment of digital technology plays an integral role in propagating long-term economic growth (measured by the GDP per capita). As a result, it can be argued that digital technology enhances economic growth; however, scholars have used the Exogenous Model to relate Digital technologies and economic expansion throughout this paradigm (Jorgenson et al., 2008). The existing research discusses the various ways wherein Digital technology affects economic growth as well as emphasizes the direct implications, that typically refer to gains in productivity, which result directly from Technology adoption (Moure, 2019). In the clear contrast, several scholars dispute if there is a link connecting Digital technologies and economic progress (Andreopoulou, 2012; Moure, 2019). The European Commission measures digital technologies using the 5 dimensions that include interconnection, human resources, technology use, technology integration, and public utilities. Studies show that digital technologies, networking, and economic growth have causative and good relationships. The European Commission underscores the essence of strengthening the digital capabilities and interconnectedness in the region to promote good relations (Taher, 2021. The approach enhances communication and dissemination of information that promotes cohesion and integration. Also, studies contend that there is a relationship between digital technology integration, human capital, and economic growth, which propagates a causative and beneficial relationship (Andreopoulou, 2012; Moure, 2019; and Taher, 2021). The European Commission focuses on promoting digital integration to enhance business continuity, expansion, and growth. This use of digital technologies and economic growth have a correlational and beneficial link. The businesses operating in the European Union underscore the essence of using digital technologies such as social media platforms, blogging, and websites for marketing and corporate communications (Alexandru et al., 2013)). Studies affirm that science and technology unification and economic growth have a fundamental and healthy link; thus, the need to promote the adoption of digital technologies to foster economic prosperity and productive relationship.
Methodology and Research Framework
The study uses a quantitative technique to establish the correlation between the use of digital technologies and business performance in the European Union in promoting sustainability. The quantitative technique is instrumental as the data can be checked and tested, which makes it easy to replicate and generalize the study findings. The use of complex data analysis and statistical tools helped provide unique and valuable insights on the impact of integrating technology in companies’ business operations. The study underscores the value of using secondary data collected from reputable sources and scientific approaches. The goal was to enhance the credibility of the study findings as statistical analysis offers an in-depth review of data. The data was collected from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI, 2018 & 2019) which published data through the European Commission on the integration of digital technology.
The study used the Vector Error Correction Model to test the study findings and results. The model contends that when the variables in a study are known, cointegrating the vectors is effectively analyzed using the VECM model since it adjusts the short-run changes in study variables and establishes the deviations from equilibrium. The short-run effects are described in the individual coefficients of the differentiated terms, which means that it captures the impact coefficients. The VECM variables that include the information about the past values of variables impact the values in the current study; thus, the statistic a significance and size of the coefficient of the error correction measure and term the tendency of the variables that return to equilibrium. A significant coefficient means that beyond the equilibrium errors helps in establishing whether the study captured the current outcomes with the long-run effect.
Sources of Data and Econometric Models
The integration of digital technology with business is very essential for the growth and expansion of commercial companies in the European Market. The integration of digital technology also promotes economic growth and enhances the sustainability of companies in their operations in the European business market. The digital technology integration also provides a collection of data that is improved and it enhances centralized dashboards which help in the analytics of the business. Therefore, the data which is obtained from the integration of digital technology with businesses is very useful in supporting the initiatives of the companies such as product development, improved customer service, and also in the marketing of the company services (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). The integration of digital technology improves the engagement of the businesses with their clients thus enhancing customer experience in their service delivery. The European companies which have appreciated the value of integrating their businesses with digital technology have achieved greater innovation and are creative and collaborative in their products and services. The companies take a shorter time in marketing their products and services and have a reliability of digital presence in their operations (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). Moreover, the companies are more resilient and agile in their business conduct and are capable of managing their resources in a better and more economical way through technology. There is also increased efficiency and improved productivity through the integration of digital technology with their businesses.
The study collected the data from main sources such as the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI, 2018 & 2019) which published data through the European Commission on Integration of Digital Technology for companies in the European market that have integrated the digital technology into their business operation (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). According to Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI, 2018), on the integration of digital technology, seven countries were ranked in terms of business digital technology integration and it was found that Denmark had the highest score followed by Finland and then Ireland and Sweden. In this ranking of country adoption of integration of digital technology with business, those countries which had a low ranking were Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The business integration was assessed based on five indicators; Electronic information sharing, Radio Frequency Identification, social media presence, and cloud solutions (Lucero et al., 2020). It was observed that northern countries were the leaders in the integration of digital technology in their businesses (Lucero Ortiz et al 2020).
Some of the key indicators of tracking digital business processes include the presence of a company website or homepage, use of social media for marketing, use of computers and the internet by the company employees. Others are the presence of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software for information sharing, use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and exploitation of Business to Customer (B2C) eCommerce (Hapsari et al 2021). According to Digital Economy Society Index (DESI, 2019), the index summary was aimed at tracking the progress of European Union member states in the integration of digital technology and the dimensions used by the DESI are; Connectivity, Human Capital, Internet use, Integration of digital technology and digital public services. Connectivity relates to the availability of mobile and fixed broadbands, ultrafast and fast broadbands, and affordable and easy access to internet services (Kramers et al., 2014). On the other hand, internet use relates to the use of online platforms to access government services, the promotion of online transactions and communication, as well as the use of online content. Human capital relates to providing people with training and education on the use of the internet with a focus on internet use, basic skills, and advanced knowledge on online communication and transactions (Van Heddeghem, et al., 2014). The integration of technology relates to the use of online learning, e-commerce, and business digitalization. On Integration of digital technology in the 2019 DESI report, it was established that Ireland had the highest score followed by Netherlands and Denmark. The lowest-performing countries were Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). There is need to enhance digital integration to countries in European Union that have less investment in current technologies such as ecommerce.
Therefore, the study exploited the use of the Johansen Co-integration and Vector Error Correlation Model (VECM) to investigate the positive relationship between the integration of digital technology with the business for economic and sustainable growth in the European Union Member State companies. The study, therefore, has used Johansen co-integration and VECM for econometric analysis which shows the results of the series in the integration of digital technology for business (Lucero Ortiz et al 2020).
The study, therefore, forms the equation as follows;
LD=f (LT, LY)
L forms the logarithm form; D is digital technology denotes internet use for integration of digital technology, and Y is the Gross Domestic Product of the EU member states which measures the economic growth as a result of the integration of digital technology. Therefore, the functional form of the VECM can be expressed as follows;
Whereby α0 is the intercept and β1 and β2 are the coefficients indicating time and ε is the error of the correlation model of the study.
The following is the descriptive analysis of the characteristics of the data which was performed to avoid multi-collinearity of the series.
Variable Observation Mean Std.Dev Min Max
LD 7 2.8984 0.4312 2.5614 3.4510
LT 7 2.9201 4.9312 9.1045 3.6514
LY 7 23.4507 0.6211 22.8907 24.8615
(Source: Author’s Work)
The statistics show that the mean and maximum of digital technology are 2.8984 and 3.4510 while the mean and maximum for LT are 2.9201 and 3.6514 and the mean and maximum for LY are 23.4507 and 24.8615. The study then checked the unit root test with the use of the Dickey and Fuller Unit root test to fix the error from the regression results of the series (Rath & Akram, 2021). The study also conducted a vector autoregressive estimator to find the optimal lag length. The study runs the Johansen co-integration test to establish the lag and relationship between the variables. Lastly, the study used VECM for both long and short analysis with the use of serial correlation, heteroscedasticity, and CUSUM square roots to identify the robustness of the VECM model process.
ADF Unit Root Test
At Level First Difference
Variable T-Statistics Probability Value T-Statistic Probability V
LD -0.103 0.9312 -3.824 0.0012*
LT -1.341 0.4501 -2.4312 0.4213**
LY -5.413 1.0100 -2.1561 0.0520***
A significant of1% is denoted by * while ** denotes a significance of 5% and *** is a 10% level of significance (Source: Author’s Work).
The results show that technological efficiency and business have convergence with economic development and the integration of digital technology promotes economic growth. The above table shows stationarity in all variables and therefore they meet the restriction of Johansen co-integration and estimator of VECM (ANDREI et al 2021). The following table shows the Vector Autoregressive model with optimal lag being 4 and then the study applied lag length by AIC (Akaike Information Criterion) to run Johansen co-integration and VECM estimator and it should be noted that appropriate lag is important in running regression analysis to provide the most accurate results.
Lag Length Criterion
Lag LogL LR FPE AIC SC HQ
0 -12.1312 .000642 1.67451 1.54328 1.67541
1 123.671 276.41 2.4e-08 -7.6542 -7.8942 -7.5429
2 130.673 12.784 2.7e-08 -8.4320 -8.4329 -8.4276
3 140.452 14.411 3.1e-8 -9.4215 -8.5401 -8.4892
4 150.411 21.413 3.4e-8 -9.4864 -8.5108 -8.7614
(Source: Author’s Work)
The study then employs the Johansen co-integration in ranking the test. The following table below shows the test rank where Trace and maximum eigenvalue shows that there is one co-integrating equation in the series and therefore Johansen co-integration shows that all variables are co-integrated in the long run.
Johansen Co-Integration Test (Trace Test)
Max Rank LL Eigen Value Trace Statistic 5% Critical Value
0 138.4516 29.5642 30.23
1 150.4213 0.43289 12.7861 14.42
2 149.1167 0.32901 2.9127 2.90
3 150.5614 0.07561
Johansen Co-Integration Test (Maximum Eigen Test)
Maximum Eigen Test
Max Rank LL Eigen Value Max Eigen Statistic 5% Critical Value
0 138.4516 29.5642 29.28
1 150.4213 0.43289 12.7861 13.32
2 149.1167 0.32901 2.9127 2.78
3 150.5614 0.07561
(Source: Author’s Work)
Johansen co-integration shows that Trace and Maximum eigenvalue shows 1 as the co-integrating equation. Therefore, the following table shows that the integration of digital technology (LD) leads to higher economic growth and sustainability of business in European Union Member state companies in the long run.
(Source: Author’s Work)
Since ECM is negative; (1.319), it is therefore statistically significant which implies that there is higher economic growth as a result of the integration of digital technology in best-performing countries such as Ireland and Denmark according to DESI, 2018 and 2019 respectively. With the VECM long-run equation (LDt=α0+β1LTt+β2LYt+εt), an increase in digital technology leads to an increase in the economic growth of the country and this is a result of the expansion and growth of companies that have integrated digital technology in their business operations (Asongua et al., 2017). In the short run, there exists a relationship between the integration of digital technology and the economic growth of EU member countries.
The study shows that digital technologies play an integral role in enhancing the competitive advantage of companies, improving product and service provision, enhancing market expansion, and creating new opportunities for businesses. The integration of digital technology is critical in the business operations of companies in the European Union as it promotes the dissemination of information, improves business practices, and promotes competitiveness (Giovanis, 2018). The technologies create a conducive business environment that encourages innovation, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. Digital transformation is among the priorities of the European Union as the organization has developed and shaped policies that seek to improve its capabilities in enhancing digital transformations, supporting green transitions, promoting sustainability, and creating new opportunities for consumers and businesses (Hapsari et al 2021). The union has focused on promoting the adoption of digital technology by training people on current technologies, disseminating information on digital skills, and guaranteeing that governments respect the basic values and rights of people. The European Commission has helped to address the challenges in the adoption of digital technology in business, highlighting the opportunities for the digital market, supporting digital skills and innovation, enhancing the use of artificial intelligence, and leveraging innovation (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). The digital business transformation seeks to adopt the internet of things, digital platforms, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing in business operations.
The adoption of digital technologies enables companies to reduce emission, eliminate wastage, optimize production, enhances the competitiveness of companies, and encourage the development of new products and services. The digital platforms enable companies to increase their innovation and support growth, as well as foster competitiveness (Hilty & Aebischer, 2015). The European Union has developed policies and regulations that seek to promote the integration of digital technologies in companies and government operations. Some laws seek to tackle illegal content, promotion of democracy and press freedom, protect free speech, foster competitiveness, and boost online security. There are increased concerns about cybersecurity with numerous claims of hacking of government facilities and individual consumers (Schien et al., 2013). The physical and digital spaces are increasingly intertwined creating new dangers and posing security issues; hence, the need for promoting cyber security. The goal is to promote consumer safety while searching for information, storing data, and accessing services. Also, cyber security is integral in businesses since it promotes the normal operation of water, hospital, and power supplies (Bieser & Hilty, 2018). There European Union has enhanced common defense capabilities for cybersecurity to eliminate security challenges including the dissemination of terrorism content. Effective regulations and policies are critical in promoting the integration of digital technologies in the European Union.
The European Union underscores the essence of developing data strategy and adoption of artificial intelligence. The adoption of artificial intelligence helps in enhancing healthcare services, making care safer, and tailoring the services to meet the changing business environment (Kostoska & Kocarev, 2019). The approach enhances the competitive advantage of businesses, and enjoys strong positions, promoting a circular economy, green energy, and a modern business environment (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). The member of the European Parliament underscored the essence of developing human-centric artificial intelligence legislation. The success of artificial intelligence is integral in supporting business growth and development in the European Union (Hapsari et al 2021). Also, the European Commission should focus on enhancing the digital education and skills of its population, which will help people leverage technological advancements.
Data Analysis and Results Interpretation
From the descriptive analysis of the study, the mean value of 23.4507 shows that the integration of digital technology with businesses has a great impact on the economic growth of the country and therefore there is a need for the European member countries to embrace the use of digital transformation in business conducts and it is also encouraged that those poor performing countries such as Hungary should enhance the integration of digital technology with commerce (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). From the ADF Unit root test of the data, there are negative t-values of the data for all variables which indicates that there is no bearing on the significance of the difference between the variables under study to determine how the integration of digital technology for sustainable economic growth of the country. The lag length criterion by use of AIC has been used to show the correlation of the variables under study and an HQ of 1.6754 shows that there is no sign of the difference between the groups in determining the integration of digital technology for sustainable economic growth of the European Union countries (Lucero Ortiz et al 2020).
Therefore, the Johansen Co-integration results imply that the integration of digital technology for sustainable economic development is largely related and this means that, integrating digital technology with businesses enhances the economic growth of a country due to ease of doing the business (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). The study uses Johansen co-integration and VECM estimator in its econometric analysis to show the robust results of the series. The economic growth and integration of digital technology have conversed in the short run and long run and the results show that integration of digital technology can stimulate economic growth and sustainability in business in EU member countries (Gregori & Holzmann, 2020). The study also revealed that business growth through integrated digital technologies leads to improved economic growth. There is, therefore, a need for researchers and the EU member countries, especially those that are ranked low to support the integration of digital technology for businesses in their countries which largely contributed to the economic growth of the countries.
The study showed that the business transformation is integral as it helps in changing the processes, system, culture, and workflow. Businesses need to leverage advanced processing and workflow automation such as the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence that explore consumer behavior (Moure, 2019). Also, the digital transformation enables businesses to enhance data collection, which can be analyzed to develop business strategies. The digital transformation enhances data collection and improves business intelligence that helps businesses to improve the operations of the functional units. The approach enables a company to effectively translate the raw data into critical insights that enhance customer experience, business opportunities, and improved performance (Taher, 2021). It is integral to understand how the data is collected, analyzed, stored, and shared owing to security concerns and ethical issues regarding customer information. The customers are concerned and aware of their data security; hence, the need to protect consumer data (Hapsari et al 2021). Also, digital technologies enable companies to enhance stronger resource management as it integrates the databases, applications, and software that improves business intelligence. The approach ensures that businesses have data-driven insights about customers
Limitations of the study
This study was faced with some challenges and especially in identifying the sample country to be used in analyzing data on the integration of digital technology in EU member state countries. However, with the help of the Digital Economy and Society Index, the study identified the ranking of the 7 countries of the European Union member state which was ranked from the top-performing country to less performing country in the year 2018 and 2019 respectively in the integration of digital technology for sustainable economic growth (Hapsari et al 2021). The selection of the listed countries as per the DESI report does not mean that other countries in the European member countries are not embracing the integration of digital technology in enhancing sustainable economic growth in European countries.
Integration of digital technology with businesses requires a defined strategy and where it lacks as was witnessed in those poor performing countries, integration of the digital technology cannot be achieved (Hapsari et al 2021). Further still, the study did not gather sufficient information because the customer needs are evolving daily and therefore there is a need for companies in European Union member states to advance with the current technological changes in business technology to address the ever-changing customer needs through technology. There was also the challenge of ineffective data management which is also applicable to countries of the European Union member states therefore there is a need to ensure that there is proper data management which concerns business integration to customers through digital technology to ensure that it is sustainable to the economic growth of the country (Hapsari et al 2021). Lastly, the other limitation of this study is the use of VECM in analyzing data on the integration of digital technology for sustainable economic growth. Sometimes it might not be possible to determine how to lag the lengths and therefore a researcher may end up with a model which has numerous variables with varying signs which may affect the degree of freedom.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Based on the literature review, digital transformation plays an integral role in the economy as it supports business expansion, accelerating efficiency workflows, modernizing processes, increasing profitability, and strengthening security. The adoption of digital technology in the European Union is integral in supporting business sustainability as it promotes efficient use of renewable energy, optimizes performance and productivity, and continuity. The use of digital technologies such as the use of social media, cloud computing, e-commerce, enterprise resource planning, big data analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence play an integral role in business growth. Companies in the European Union should endeavor to adopt the current technologies to support performance and productivity since some countries lag in the use of digital technologies. The governments and businesses have failed to offer online services owing to a lack of training and education on digital technologies, as well as security concerns. The availability of the internet and digital devices is a concern that forces companies to continue operating offline rather than use online platforms to reduce operational costs, improve efficiency, and optimize profitability. Companies need to leverage digital transformation by optimizing their processes and system to guarantee that they are flexible and interoperable, which enhances the ability of businesses to offer business intelligence that is robust and addresses current and future challenges.
Underwriting the above discussion, the study recommends:
The European Union should embrace digital technology integration in government and business sectors to help enhance its security, defend its values, and foster digital market in the region.
Establish strong digital alliance with countries with similar interest such as the US, Brazil or Australia. It is imperative that the region seeks convergence with the Western allies and offer the global south a good substitute route to the adoption of digital development.
Develop digital laws that are attractive for investments and support the integration of the technology in the region. The laws should protect the interest of investors, innovators, and promote innovation rather than stifling growth.
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