Australian Net economy goes under the microscope

A landmark study is to be completed this year that will look at the impact of the Internet economy in Australia. The study, which is to be conducted by Allen Consulting Group in conjunction with Monash University, has attracted the sponsorship of networking giant Cisco Systems Inc.

Touted as the first of its kind in Australia, the study aims to measure the size of the Internet economy, its revenues and productivity, and the value it adds to the Australian economy. This will be teased out from interviews with over 600 businesses spanning nine sectors, including agriculture and mining, manufacturing, transport, finance, communications and tourism.

Focusing on key indicators such as the number and nature of businesses in the Internet economy, their contribution to economic activity and the employment base of firms in the sector, it will also identify barriers that are stopping many Australians from taking part in the Internet economy.

Similar studies have been undertaken in the U.S., the first of which took place at the University in Texas in 1998. Having been updated four times since the first study, the most recent one cited an increase in net economy revenues of 156 percent over the period. While conclusions are being asserted about U.S. performance, less is known qualitively or quantatively about the size of the Internet economy in Australia, according to Terry Walsh, Cisco’s Australia/New Zealand managing director.

Kerry Barwise, director of Allen Consulting Group, noted that the study was engineered to specifically address Australian conditions so as to measure activities across a wide spectrum of old and new-economy industries.

“We are attempting to measure the take-up of Internet technologies, and their impact on the industries which drive the Australian economy,” he said.

Preliminary results from the study are expected in early April.