Europe's businesses could win big from even better use of data

Huge advances in technology have led to an explosion in the rate at which new data is being created. The Data Economy is delivering what businesses and Governments across Europe want: creating high quality jobs, generating economic growth and enabling organisations across all sectors to expand successfully and serve their customers.

But with the growth of data, are we realising its true potential? The Digital Realty Data Economy Report, based on independent research by economic consultancy Development Economics, shows the huge potential for the Data Economy to grow further, boost businesses and create more jobs.

The research shows the value of continuing to invest in data, from direct investment in the physical infrastructure of data centres and connections through to the broader needs of a skilled workforce.

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Potential Jobs

Country Size of the Data Economy Untapped Potential Jobs Created by Data Economy
Germany €108.3 billion €87.9 billion 1.95 million
UK €73.3 billion €52.3 billion 1.65 million
Netherlands €24.6 billion €25.2 billion 349,000
Ireland €10.0 billion €9.1 billion 84,000

Data Centres: Powering the Data Economy

The Economist has described data as being "to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change."

As the varying fortunes of oil-rich countries have shown, in order to prosper business and Government need to take full benefits of the opportunities it offers. Central to that is having a digital infrastructure fit for the opportunities ahead.

As this report shows, the growth and job creation of the Data Economy in the last few years is still leaving much potential untapped. This is not a small technical issue because data is so central to the modern economy. It reaches right across all sectors of the economy. Although data is concentrated in the information and communications technology sectors, in all the countries studies over half – and even up to two-thirds – of the value generated by data comes from other economic sectors.

Business leaders and Governments face the challenge of staying relevant and competitive in a time of major digital change. For most businesses, digital is now a critical part of their infrastructure – a key channel to market and a source of competitive advantage.

For Governments, the Data Economy brings the sort of high value jobs which can support growing living standards. This sector is highly productive. In the UK, for example, it accounts for just 3.3% of the workforce but delivers 4.2% of the country's economic output.

The data centre industry is at the heart of making the most of this. It can provide the secure, reliable and high-speed data services which enable business to prosper and economies to grow. These critical digital foundations are now as important a part of each country's infrastructure as roads or power stations.

We see this here at Digital Realty with our data centres in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. We can provide the critical digital foundations which allow our customers to concentrate on what they do best – growing their businesses and serving their customers.

How businesses can get a data-fuelled boost

The Digital Realty Data Economy Report sets out in detail the steps businesses can take to benefit from the untapped potential of data. These include building ways to handle data securely, investing in recruiting and training highly skilled workers to escape the skills shortages many sectors suffer from and looking to achieve the full value of data from across their whole field of operations.

We urge businesses to invest in the right tools, infrastructure and partners to get more value out of data and take a piece of the huge opportunity waiting to be taken.

How this analysis was carried out

Development Economics was commissioned by Digital Realty to carry out research into the Data Economy across four European countries. We define the Data Economy as the financial and economic value created by the storage, retrieval and analysis – via sophisticated software and other tools – of large volumes of highly detailed business and organisational data at very high speeds.

The research is based on the latest available relevant official statistics and a detailed review of relevant economic and business literature. That has then been supplemented by interviews with key people in this field and the creation of an economic model to show how the Data Economy would grow under a range of possible scenarios. Calculations of the value and potential value of the data economy are based on Gross Value Added (GVA) figures.

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