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The Survey on the Use of Information and Communication Technologies and E-Commerce in Companies (ETICCE) is an annual sample based survey conducted by the INE for the whole of Spain. On the basis of a collaboration agreement with the INE, Idescat extends on the results offered by this operation for Catalonia.

The ETICCE was conducted for the first time in 2002 (referring to 2001), using harmonised methodological criteria, both to draft the questionnaire and to estimate the variables. The methodology used is widely accepted internationally, which enables international comparison of the results obtained.

Regulation 808/2004 of the European Parliament and Council, of April 21, 2004, sought to establish a common framework for the production of Community statistics on the information society and for the production of indicators in this area. Every year, Eurostat produces a document that details the study area and variables for inclusion in the questionnaire to enable the collection of the statistical information necessary to produce the indicators on the implantation and use of ICT and e-commerce in the reference framework.

The main objectives of the survey are:

  • to show the implantation and use of ICT by companies with activity in the Spanish territory.
  • to show the use of e-commerce made by companies.
  • to obtain comparable information between autonomous communities, Spain and other countries.

1. Population scope

The target population for this study was made up of companies whose main activity is described in sections C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, section L, the divisions of 69 to 74 of section M, i section N and group 95.1 in accordance with the CCAE-2009.

Economic activity groups included in the EICTCE in accordance with the CCAE-2009

  • Industry (codes 10–39)

    Food; beverages; tobacco; textiles; dressmaking; leather and footwear; wood and cork; paper; graphic arts and reproduction on recorded media (codes 10–18)

    Oil refinery; pharmaceutical products; rubber and plastics; non-metallic mineral products (codes 19–23)

    Metallurgy; manufacture of metal production and steel production; (codes 24–25)

    Computer products, electronics and optics; electric material and equipment; mechanical machinery and equipment; motor vehicles; transport material; furniture; miscellaneous manufacturing industries; furniture and other manufacturing industries; repair of machinery and equipment (codes 26–33)

    Energy and water (codes 35–39)

  • Construction (codes 41–43)
  • Services (codes 45–63; 68–74 and 77–82; 95.1)

    Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorbikes (codes 45–47)

    Transport and storage (codes 49–53)

    Accommodation and food and beverage service activities (codes 55–56)

    Information and communications (codes 58–63)

    Property activities (code 68)

    Professional, scientific and technical activities (codes 69–74)

    Administrative activities and auxiliary services (codes 77–82)

    Repair of computers and communication systems (code 95.1)

2. Temporal scope

The ETICCE is an annual survey with a double time reference to guarantee the international comparability of the results. The reference period of the variables on infrastructures, equipment and use of ICT is the first quarter of the year in which information was collected (2018), while the period of reference for the variables of e-commerce, interaction with Public Administration, staff specialized in ICT, Big Data analysis, invoicing and data on general business information is the whole of 2017. The employment data is an annual average for 2017 and the economic data in relation to purchasing and sales refer to the whole of 2017.

3. Geographic scope

The Geographic scope of the research consists of the whole of the Spanish territory. However, the survey does offer some results for each of the autonomous communities.

The exploitation for Catalonia contains information on all of the statistical units located in Catalonia.

4. Statistical units

The statistical unit of analysis is the company with an economic activity that is included in the Population scope as described above. The company is also the informant unit.

A company is understood to be any legal entity that constitutes an organisational unit for the production of goods or services, and that enjoys certain autonomy in its decisions, mainly in terms of the assignation of the resources it possesses. A company can exercise one or more activities in one or more establishments.

The data contained in the questionnaire refers to the whole company, i.e. it includes all establishments that the company has in different places to its head offices.

5. Sample design

The population framework for the survey is the Central Company Directory (DIRCE). This is an organised registry of information that contains data on the identities, locations, territorial distribution and classification by size and economic activities of companies. This data is obtained from administrative sources (Tax agency, Social Security, etc) and is complemented with information provided by different INE statistical operations. The DIRCE is updated on an annual basis by incorporating new information.

For each Autonomous community, the population of EICTCE target companies is stratified by cross-comparing variables:

  • Size of company in terms of wage earning employees. The following intervals are considered:
    1. From 0 to 2
    2. From 3 to 9
    3. From 10 to 19
    4. From 20 to 49
    5. From 50 to 99
    6. From 100 to 199
    7. From 200 to 499
    8. From 500 or more
  • CCAE-2009 activity groups listed in the table in the Population scope section.

The sample selected in Catalonia for this edition of the survey according to size of company was the following:

  • Companies with 0 to 9 employees: 1.018
  • Companies with 10 or more employees: 2.313

6. Data collection

The questionnaire used was sent to all companies in the sample (although the sub-population of companies with less than 10 employees is considered optional by Eurostat).

The questionnaire is structured in different blocks.

Block B includes questions on the use of computers and it also requests information on the use of open-source software.

The next block covers issues relating to specialist ICT workers, which are staff that, within a company, have a job related to ICT, such as ICT systems maintenance or their applications.

Block D contains questions on the access to and use of Internet by companies. It requests information on the different types of Internet connection (modem, XDSI, broadband and mobile telephone) and the maximum download speed contacted. It also asks about the availability the website and the services offered on the same and the use of electronic signatures. It includes questions in relation to the use of the web for interact with public administrations and the type of interactions made. This section is completed with questions about Internet mobile connections for business uses and payment for advertising on the Internet.

The next block refers to the use made by companies of social media such as social networks (Facebook, Linkedin, etc.), blogs or microblogs (Twitter, Blogger, etc.), websites that share multimedia content (YouTube, Flickr, etc.) or wiki-based tools for knowledge sharing.

Block F asks about the use of cloud computing services that are used for storing information, making back-up copies, etc.

The following two blocks are new this year and contain questions related to 3D printing and robotics.

Block I is assigned to big data analysis. In particular, it asks whether companies carry out this type of analysis and, if so, which sources they use and which personnel perform the analysis.

The following block includes questions on invoicing. It distinguishes between invoices which have a standard format for automatic processing (EDI, UBL, etc.) and those whose format is not suitable for automatic processing (PDF, scanned documents, etc.).

A brief block follows on the availability of measures and procedures applied to ICT systems to ensure the integrity, availability and confidentiality of the data and systems.

Block L contains information in relation to e-commerce and differentiates between purchases and sales. In the case of purchases, the data requested reflect the percentage of the total amount of the turnover they account for, while, in terms of sales, the percentage of the total amount of the turnover they account for is requested. Both purchases and sales are structured into two blocks: those made via the website and those made via electronic data exchange. The purchases are broken down by geographical areas (Spain, other countries in the EU and other countries) and the sales are broken down by type of customer (to other companies (B2B) and the public administration (B2G)) and by geographical areas.

The last two blocks seek to measure the expenditure companies have made on information technologies such as computers and peripheral equipment, programs and telecommunications services, hiring ICT equipment and the realization of internal R&D activities.

Data collection is done in the first quarter of 2018, by Internet and regular mail. Informants from companies are recommended to fill in the questionnaire using the Internet. However, those informants that prefer to receive a printed copy of the questionnaire can request this.

7. Concepts

Main economic activity of the company

Main economic activity is understood to mean that which generates the greatest value added. If the company does not have this data, the main activity is considered to be that which generates the greatest turnover, or if this information is also missing, that which employs the highest number of people.

Staff employed by the company

This is the number of people that work for the company, inside or outside of its buildings, and that are compensated for doing so. This includes both paid and unpaid workers

Paid employees

Those that are associated to the company by means of a permanent or temporary labour contract and that are paid by means of fixed or periodical amounts in the form of wages or salaries, payment in kind, etc. This includes paid owners, students with a formal commitment that contribute to the production process in return for payment and/or educational services, staff on strike or that are on short-term leave. Excluded from this category are workers associated to a temping agency and those that are on long-term leave.

Unpaid employees

Those that participate actively in the company without any kind of fixed payment or salary. This includes the owners, autonomous shareholders and family assistants. This does not include capital shareholders or the owners' relatives that do not play an active role in the company, or people that are on the payroll of another company that is the one where they perform their main activity.


Income invoiced by the company during the year of reference for the provision of services and the sale of goods (not included VAT) that are the object of the company's activity. This is accounted for in net terms while deducting refunds and sales discounts and not deducting cash discounts nor sales discount for immediate payment. Turnover does not include the sale of fixed assets or subsidies for the production of good and services.

Net purchases of goods and services

Represent the goods and services acquired during the year of reference. This includes merchandise, prime materials, other supplies, work done by other companies or professionals and expenses in the outsourcing account. The purchases are valued at the price of acquisition (without deductible VAT) and are accounted for in net terms while discounting purchasing discounts and discounts or refunds to suppliers derived from quality defects.

Integration of information in the company

The information in the company is integrated by being electronically and automatically shared by different areas, using one or several program tools for sharing information originating from a common database.


The ETICCE used the broad definition of e-commerce as considered by the OCDE. An electronic transaction is the purchase or sale of products (goods or services), between companies, homes, individuals, administration or other public or private organisations, by means of telematic networks. Payment for the goods or services acquired by e-commerce can be made by means of these same networks or by other means. Orders made by telephone, fax or manually written e-mails are not considered e-commerce.

Web-based sales or purchases

Sales made via an online store or using forms on the company website or extranet.

EDI-based sales or purchases

Sales made via electronic data exchange messages, the term EDI being understood generally to define the sending or receiving of sales information in an agreed format that can be treated automatically (EDIFACT, UBL, XML, etc.).

On-line Payment

Financial transaction made using a telematic network (e.g. Internet), with incorporated order form.

Mobile Internet connection for business use

Internet connection with laptops or mobile devices (laptops, or other devices such as Smartphone, PDA phone, etc.) with Internet access through cellular networks fully or partially paid by the company. Not considered the only devices that connect via Wi-Fi.

Targeted Advertising

Advertisements that vary depending on people's online behavior.

Social media

The use of social media refers to the use by the company of applications based on Internet technologies or communication platforms for connecting, creating or exchanging online content with clients, suppliers/partners, or within the company. It is considered that companies that use social media are those that have a user profile, account or user license, depending on the requirements and type of social media used.

Cloud computing

Technological model that enables adapted and on demand online access from anywhere to a shared collection of configurable IT resources (e.g. networks, servers, storage, applications and services that can be provided quickly and launched with the minimum management effort or interaction with the supplier of the services); examples of cloud computing solutions include Dropbox, Google Apps, MicrosoftAzure, etc.

Big Data Analysis

Use of techniques, technologies and software tools to analyse data generated from activities carried out electronically and from machine to machine (M2M) communications (data generated from social media activities, processes, etc.). This type of data has the following characteristics: significant size (large quantity of data generated over time), variety (different complex data formats) and speed (generation speed, availability and variation in time).


Electronic document containing information in relation to the invoice. A differentiation is made between two types of e-invoice:

  • Those in standard format that can be used for automatic processing, i.e. the data that they contain can be read and processed automatically without the need for human intervention or an optic character-recognition program. These invoices can be exchanged between suppliers and clients, via service operators or by electronic banking systems.
  • Those in an electronic format that cannot be processed automatically (e.g. emails with invoices included as PDF or scanned attachments).
CRM (customer relationship management)

IT tools used for the integrated management of customer information. These applications enable the storage and organisation of this information until it is integrated, processed and analysed. There are two generic types:

  • Operational CRM: Enables processing and integration of information on transactions performed by customers.
  • Analytic CRM: Enables analysis (generally using data mining techniques) of information on customers in order to provide in-depth details of customers and their needs.
ERP (enterprise resource planning)

Set of IT tools used for the integrated management of the processes and information corresponding to the different areas of business of a company. An ERP system generally integrates the management of such areas as planning, supplies, logistics, sales, marketing, customer relations, finance and human resources.

Digital signature

Coded information that identifies the author of an electronic document and that authenticates their identity. Like manual signatures, it is unique and specific to a user or computer.

Free/Open Source Code systems

Program developed using an open source code licence. These licences enable the code to be modified or redistributed under certain conditions without having to pay the original author.

3D printing

Use of special printers for the creation of three-dimensional physical objects using digital technologies already used by the company or provided by other companies' 3D printing services.


Depending on the purpose of their application, robots may be industrial or service-related.

  • Industrial robots: automatic, reprogrammable and multi-purpose control machines with three or more fixed or mobile programmable axes for use in industrial automation applications.
  • Service robots: machines which have a degree of autonomy and are able to operate in complex and dynamic environments requiring interaction with people, objects and other devices; their use in industrial automation applications is excluded.

8. Tabulation and publication of results

Idescat undertakes a tabulation of the EICTCE survey that expands on the results offered by the INE for its autonomous community.

In order for the published data to be comparable with that which is offered by the INE and other official statistics bodies, the results are structured into two sections:

  • Companies with 10 or more employees
  • Companies with less than 10 employees

The published results have been obtained in consideration of all of the activity groups included in the population area of the survey, apart from the divisions 56 and 64 to 66 and group 95.1.

In the tables that present the results for companies with 10 or more employees, the information is presented disaggregated by the following characteristics:

  • Number of employees
    1. From 10 to 49
    2. From 50 to 249
    3. From 250 or more
  • Activity sector
    1. Industry
    2. Construction
    3. Services

The results for the companies with less than 10 employees are only disaggregated by activity sector.

In the Research · Technology section of the Idescat website the information on these statistics can be consulted for other years.