How’s the digital economy doing? It’s on fire.

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 helped our businesses transform to meet the needs of consumers around the world.

It has also put everyday Aussies firmly in the drivers’ seat, giving us all access to almost infinite information at the click of a mouse, giving us the ability to source products and services (and compare prices!) more easily, and opened up a world of new entertainment options.

We have proven to be such keen adopters of the internet and other technologies that it’s actually getting harder and harder to separate the digital economy from the rest of our economy, because digital is being embraced everywhere from healthcare to education, from agriculture to the delivery of government services.

That said, we’re always up for a challenge as are our friends at Deloitte, which is why we decided to update our 2011 report The Connected Continent, with a new methodology to measure the digitally-enabled economy’s increasing influence and spread.

The Connected Continent II numbers are in, and they’re big. Put simply, the digital economy is on fire.

  • The digitally-enabled economy contributed $79 billion (or ~5%) to GDP in FY2013-2014, making it larger than the agriculture, retail or transport industries 
  • It has grown by a whopping 50% since 2011 - faster, in fact, than Deloitte predicted back in 2011
  • What’s more, it could be worth $139BN by 2020 - primarily due to projected growth in e-commerce
  • FY2013-14 saw a $45BN productivity boost thanks to digital 
  • And the consumer benefits derived from digital are worth about $75BN - up 20% on 2011 

Of course, the numbers only tell some of the story. At Google, we’re lucky enough to hear first-hand about the small businesses that are experiencing rocket-propelled growth thanks to the web, and the non-profits that are using technology to make a huge difference in the delivery of their services. It’s these organisations, forming the backbone of our economy and our society, that stand the most to gain - and that’s why government and the business sector alike need to make sure that the opportunities described in this report are embraced with both hands.

The digitally-enabled economy is on fire. It’s a powerful engine that is driving growth and productivity gains in all sectors in Australia. Now, we have to make sure we don’t take our foot off the accelerator, because the best is yet to come.