Contractors should benefit as web economy set to double by 2016
Posted Jan 30, 2012
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has published a landmark report into the impact the Internet is having on the world economy.
According to the report, the total value of the web economy is set to double from $2.1 trillion in 2010 to $4.2 trillion by 2016 - the growth fuelled by a surge in the number of people who will have access to the World Wide Web.
In fact, by 2016, the proportion of the world's population who have online access is expected to reach 45%, or 3 billion users.
The Digital Manifesto, was launched during the Annual Conference of the World Economic Forum at a co-branded discussion by Boston Consulting Group, and web search giant Google.
The rise of the 'new' Internet
Whereas the last decade has been dominated by 'Western' advances in Internet technology, the next five years is more likely to be less desktop-driven, and most of the growth will come from the emerging economies.
Some of the key changes the report's authors expect to see include:
1. There will be a massive increase in mobile device usage, with the proportion of non-desktop web connections set to reach the 80% mark. In the UK, we are already seeing evidence of an increased demand for contractors with digital expertise to help build new mobile-based applications.
2. Social media use is already far more extensive in emerging markets than it is in developed economies. This is set to continue over the next five years. In some of the world's next economic superpowers, such as Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil, over 90% of web users use social media sites. Again, there will be an increase in demand for contractors with social media development skills, and integration specialists.
3. The Internet is no longer the preserve of the 'rich' West, with almost all the predicted growth by 2016 coming from emerging markets. These emerging markets are expected to contribute one third of the value of the web economy within five years.
4. By way of an example of the changing face of worldwide web usage; by 2016, China is likely to have 800 million web users - equivalent to the populations of the U.S, France, Germany, India, Japan and the U.K combined. This represents a remarkable shift of economic power.
Companies will seek to expand their digital assets
The BCG report says that "the uninterrupted growth of the Internet economy is not a foregone conclusion."
In order for these changes to take place, businesses will need to embrace digital technology, update old systems, and hire the right people.
The BCG surveyed over 15,000 SMEs worldwide over the past 18 months to find out how much benefit businesses gain from having a web presence.
In the UK, the sales of web-enabled companies rose around seven times faster than businesses with no (or little) web presence, at just over 4% each year from 2007 to 2010.
This pattern was repeated across all 14 countries surveyed, further illustrating why businesses not only benefit from being on the web, but also how vital it is for commercial organisations to upgrade their user of digital technologies to facilitate the predicted growth which lies at the core of the report.
Governments also have a role to play in creating environments in which digital innovation can take place, with few barriers to growth.
How can contractors benefit?
The market for digital IT contractors has already started to lift off in the UK. As we reported on Contract Eye last month, many major UK companies, including retailers and investment banks, are actively seeking to upgrade their existing systems to embrace the latest mobile and social media technology.
Contractors with skills such as Flex, Silverlight are in great demand, as are iPhone and Android developers.
If you are thinking about learning new skills over the next few years, you could do a lot worse than going down the digital route!
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