79 billion Australia’s digital economy grows and grows

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$79 billion: Australia’s digital economy grows and grows

Rapidly changing face of Australian businesses, economy

25 March 2015: Australia’s rapidly growing digital economy has been valued at $79 billion, and 5.1% of GDP – bigger than traditional industry sectors such as agriculture, retail and transport.

When Deloitte Access Economics first calculated the size of the internet economy for Google in its landmark The Connected Continent report in 2011, the $50 billion figure was forecast to grow to $70 billion by 2016.

But this has been well and truly passed. Using the latest, although not strictly comparable, methodology for 2013-14, The Connected Continent II report finds that the digital economy is growing in significance, and is 50% larger in real terms than the 2011 estimate.

And not only is it growing, but it’s rapidly changing how businesses and the Australian economy operate.

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Other report findings include:

  • $139 billion – the forecast value of the digital economy by 2020 (7.3% of GDP)
  • $45 billion – additional size of the Australian economy in 2013, including the positive impact of digital technologies on productivity
  • $75 billion – consumer benefits in terms of greater choice and convenience driven by digital
  • 450,000 – information and communications technology (ICT) specialists employed in organisations across Australia (4% of total employment)
  • 2.5 million – employees in the OECD’s ‘broad’ definition of ICT workers, which also includes intensive users of ICTs (22% of the workforce).

Managing Director of Google Australia and New Zealand Maile Carnegie said: “The internet could have been purpose-built for Australia. It has connected us with the world, given us new opportunities to export our smarts, and now it's helping our businesses transform to meet the needs of today's consumers.

“It's getting harder and harder to separate the digital economy from the rest of our economy which can only be a positive, because it means technology is being embraced everywhere from healthcare to education, from agriculture to the delivery of government services.

“The challenge now is to ensure that we don't take our foot off the accelerator because the health of the digital economy will be critical to Australia's future prosperity.”

Deloitte Access Economics partner and report co-author Ric Simes said: “The sweeping impact of the internet is more than well documented, but until 2011 at least, the economic value of all things digital was less well understood.

“When we first calculated the value of the internet economy in 2011, we all knew it was growing rapidly, but just as technology and levels of connectivity have evolved, so has the value of digital to the Australian economy.

“We have expanded and updated our earlier analysis and the evidence is clear that digital technologies are driving massive economic change and disruption and also help Australia respond to the national challenge of maintaining growth in living standards and productivity."

The report also looks at how businesses are increasingly using digital and social to not only connect with their customers, but to drive internal transformational change via the next wave of related technologies such as the cloud, data analytics, and machine-to-machine technologies.

“The digital economy is changing from being a standalone industry to being embedded in businesses across the economy,” Simes said.

“In 2011, we estimated that the internet contributed about $27 billion in the form of increased productivity in Australia in one year. Using an updated model, we now estimate that the economy was about $45 billion bigger in 2013 than it otherwise would have been because of the productivity impacts of digital technologies.

“Higher productivity means Australia has greater output for its inputs to production via the likes of increased competition, reduced prices, greater business efficiencies, and innovation for better goods and services.”

Report co-author, Deloitte Access Economics director John O’Mahony, said: “Digital technologies clearly have the potential to support transformation across different businesses, from traditional areas such as retail and manufacturing, to service businesses such as banking and business services.”

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