According to a new report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the overall value of what is described as the ‘web economy’ is going to double by 2016 – from $2.1 trillion in 2010 to a staggering $4.2 trillion. By this time, 45% of the world’s population is expected to have internet access, which equates to around 3 billion people.
The report, referred to as The Digital Manifesto, was launched at the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum as a joint discussion by Boston Consulting Group and Google. As part of the study, the BCG surveyed more than 15,000 SMEs around the world during the last year and a half, to try to determine how much benefit these companies gain by having a web presence. Findings showed that web-enabled UK companies saw their sales rise around seven times faster than their counterparts with little or no web presence, with a figure of around 4% growth year on year between 2007 and 2010. This was roughly the same for all 14 countries involved in the study, making it clear that commercial businesses must continue to increase their use of digital technology if they are to keep in line with the BCG’s predicted growth figures.
One of the unsurprising findings of the report was that, over the next five years, internet use is likely to be less desktop-driven, with a ‘massive increase in mobile device usage’. The other key growth area over the next five years will be social media, which is already far more widely used in emerging markets than it is in more developed economies. In fact, in countries like Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico – thought by many to be the world’s ‘next economic superpowers’, and over 90% of people who have web access also use social media sites.
The good news for IT contractors is that the BCG report also says, ‘the uninterrupted growth of the Internet economy is not a foregone conclusion’ and that businesses will need to ‘embrace digital technology, update old systems and hire the right people’. This is clearly in line with the changes that are already being seen in the UK, where contractors with digital expertise – particularly mobile device and social media development skills, are already highly sought after. Contractors with skills in technologies such as Silverlight and Flex are now in high demand, as are Android and iPhone developers.