How an European country thrives with data-driven thinking. The Estonia Case. Re:Think:Analytics Takeaways 2020


How can control and freedom work hand in hand in a Society? 

Technology could be an answer. Data-driven thinking, transparent policies and inclusive decisions, education and trust.

We’ve learned that from Anett Numa, digital transformation adviser for e-Estonia. She has virtually visited us at the Re:Think:Analytics conference on October 15th, to share her country’s story. From where we stand, it sounds more like a dream than an actual reality. 

Estonia is presently a thriving economy, with an efficient administration and above all, a prosperous community of engaged citizens. They have managed to do that in some hard working years, on the strength of smart, transparent, reliable, secure and trusted use of data. 

Their Story

Estonia’s story could be defined as a classic fairytale, although Anett has mentioned from the very start of her speech that “we don’t believe in fairytales anymore”. Well, take one country that has been under Russian occupation for 48 years, give it a young group of politicians who want to make a difference, consider that their minds are open enough to radically and positively change the state of affairs and above all, give them free rein to use technology and partner with the private sector. 

Through data strategies that have reshaped the landscape of decision making in their country, Estonians are today proud to be called the very citizens of their own country. They trust their administration, partner with it and they individually and collectively shape it for a better, prosperous future. 

Data-Driven Decisions 

Estonians make decisions based on data at all state levels. Their public services are fully accessible and fully working online. Their government collects citizen data and the reason for that is to make better and more informed decisions. And the unbelievable part of their story is that their citizens TRUST their government, because it has never failed them since they gained their independence from Russia. 

Estonia has adopted data-driven thinking since it was just an abstract, overlooked concept. 

Their objective was to get rid of the problems, forget the past and manage the entire state with a very small amount of money. And they succeeded in a few, but radical and important steps: 


It took Estonia four years to learn about data-driven thinking, technological advancements and adoption of data strategies. Then, they progressively moved every bureaucratic process online. Now, Estonians have 99% of public services in digital format and 98% of people own an electronic ID card. All that with ZERO conspiracy theories.(sic) 


For the technological advancement to happen at all levels, they needed to cover the state with a very good internet connection. Finland and Sweden have helped them. Now, almost 100% of the people in Estonia have a good internet connection at home. 


Estonia has managed to create strong bonds between private and public sectors. It was clear for them that they needed one another to exchange knowledge, technology, impact, ideas of change and improvement through data and, of course, money. If one thrives, the other does as well. 


Estonians have three fundamental pillars that drive their actions: confidentiality, availability and integrity. The State guarantees all of the above and the citizens trust the State to make good decisions on their behalf. 

  1. In terms of availability, every time information is exchanged between state agencies, it receives encryption and a time stamp. 
  1. In terms of storage, state agencies don’t have the right to store any data, avoiding leakage, abuse and duplicates. 
  1. The administration works alongside and for the citizens and everyone minds their own business without fear or compromise. 

But these folks have come a long way. They believed in the good side of technology, adopted data-driven strategies, helped one another thrive and have managed to build the desirable idea of a country, by sharing information in a controlled, transparent, responsible manner: state and individual, state and private sector and now state and state, considering Anett Numa was here, in Romania, presenting to Romanians a country’s success story.

Estonians have gained their freedom and they are making the most of it. And most certainly they are not perfect. But the real point of the matter is the positive impact they achieved. In this particular case, with the help of data. 

What do we have to say about it? 

Re:Think:Analytics is here to present ways in which data can create a positive impact and change things for the better in terms of governments and businesses altogether. We are committed to bringing the best people in the world and help each other learn about the good way of thinking things with data and analytics. 

Share your thoughts and revisit Anett’s talk at the first Re:Think:Analytics conference. 

Hear what she has to say about what it takes for a country to become a trustful state administration and above all, what makes it. 

Together we are Rethinking the future with data. 

And if you wish to get to know more about Anett, visit her LinkedIn profile @anettnuma

About the author


Copywriter and content writer for almost 10 years. Brand storyteller that turns brands into both visual and narrative experiences. Event executive for Re:Think:Analytics, turning ideas into live broadcasts, for the moment.

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Copywriter and content writer for almost 10 years. Brand storyteller that turns brands into both visual and narrative experiences. Event executive for Re:Think:Analytics, turning ideas into live broadcasts, for the moment.

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