McKinsey Global Institute: Internet matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs, and prosperity
It has become obvious that the Internet is changing our lives—the way we work, shop, search for information, communicate, and meet people. Two billion people are now connected to the Internet, and this number is growing by 200 million each year. But the magnitude of the economic impact of Internet-related activities is not obvious. Indeed, debate rages about what transformational effect the Internet is having and how best to harness its power for the common good. There are many studies on the impact of IT or telecommunications but little analysis, to our knowledge, on the global impact of the Internet on growth, jobs, and wealth creation. Does the Internet really create wealth or just displace it? Does the Internet in fact favor just one or two types of actors (e.g., big Internet companies and consumers) or all stakeholders? And how large is the economic impact of the Internet in objective terms?
The mission of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), McKinsey & Company’s business and economics research arm, is to help leaders in the commercial, public, and social sectors to develop a deeper understanding of the evolution of the global economy and to provide a fact base that contributes to decision making on critical management topics. In that spirit, we publish this independent report and release it in time for the e-G8 Forum in Paris in May. Our aim is to make a contribution to e-G8 and G8 debates by providing data, statistical analyses, measures, and indicators about the impact of the Internet, and contribute to the discussion about its current and future impact to growth and prosperity, and how companies, sectors and countries can fully capitalize its potential.
Our primary aim in this report is to estimate the magnitude of the impact of the Internet on the world economy. We focus on 13 countries that account for more than 70 percent of global GDP. These countries are at different stages of development. We include the G8 as well as South Korea and Sweden, because they have very high Internet penetration, and the large, high-growth economies of Brazil, China, and India. Our analysis offers a quantitative view of this topic and new insights, from a holistic perspective that examines a range of players from enterprises and consumers to companies that form part of the Internet supply chain and those that leverage the technologies for their own business needs—companies that range from large corporations in the United States to small and medium-sized businesses in China. This study is by no means the final word on the Internet’s impact, given its continuous evolution, as users, entrepreneurs, companies, and other organizations find new uses and develop new innovations that capitalize on the power and reach of the Internet, and as the Internet and its related technologies and devices continue to advance..
However, there are some key insights that emerge from our research. This report finds that the Internet has delivered substantial economic growth and created jobs on a large scale. Internet maturity correlates with wealth creation, and we find that the Internet is, and will remain over coming decades, one of the biggest drivers of global economic growth.
To measure the impact of the Internet on the economy, we looked at both expenditures and supply, following three original, quantitative, and complementary approaches:
ƒƒA macroeconomic approach using national accounts to calculate the contribution of GDP via a classical macroeconomic spending approach, where the Internet economy is simply the sum of Internet consumption (service, access, e-commerce, etc.), private investment, public expenditure, and the trade balance in Internetrelated goods and services
ƒƒA statistical econometric approach analyzing the correlation between Internet maturity and a country’s GDP per capita growth, leveraging the theory of endogenous economic growth
ƒƒA microeconomic approach, analyzing the results of a survey of 4,800 small and medium-sized businesses in 12 countries we studied
We believe that it is important to understand the Internet better and to monitor its progress. For now, we propose an initial set of four key indicators to measure both consumption and supply but, in an “open-source” spirit, we welcome suggestions for more and improved metrics that we might use to analyze the impact of the Internet—and even criticism and rebuttal of the approach we have taken. We propose to publish an annual summary of the debates that we hope our work will spark.
This report leverages MGI’s “micro-based macro” approach that draws from McKinsey’s work with its clients, practice research on technology, and more than ten years of MGI research on technology trends and on the impact of technology on business and the economy published in more than ten reports, including US productivity growth, 1995–2000 (October 2001); How IT enables productivity growth (October 2002); Reaching higher productivity growth in France and Germany (October 2002); Beyond austerity: A path to economic growth and renewal in Europe (October 2010); Growth and competitiveness in the United States: The role of its multinational companies (June 2010); and Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity (May 2011).
This project was led by Matthieu Pélissié du Rausas, a director in Paris; James Manyika, a director in San Francisco, and Director of MGI, Eric Hazan, a principal in Paris, Jacques Bughin, a director in Brussels. Rémi Said managed the project team of Vincent Luciani and Yves Matton. The team also worked closely with Eric Labaye, a director in Paris and chair of MGI, Michael Chui, MGI senior fellow, and Patrice Navarre, an associate principal in Paris. We are grateful for the vital input and support of numerous McKinsey colleagues around the world, including Adam Bird, Endre Holen, and Jurgen Meffert, all three directors and leaders of McKinsey’s Global Technology, Media, and Telecom Practice.
Distinguished experts outside McKinsey reviewed our work and provided invaluable insights and advice. We should particularly thank our academic advisers Martin N. Baily, Schwartz Chair and senior fellow of the Brookings Institution and former chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers; and Christian Saint-Etienne, professor of business economics at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris and member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, reporting to the French Prime Minister.