The IT sector is gaining traction, but there is much work to be done, according to a new international report. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published its 2015 Digital Economy outlook, and found that global trade for ICT manufacturing and services continues to grow.
ICT services grew 30% yearly from 2001-2013, the report said, compared to a 6% annual growth for manufactured ICT goods. The ICT sector accounted for a third of all research and development performed by the business enterprise sector across the region.
The proportion of R&D taken up by ICT in Canada this year will be slightly under that figure, at 29.8%, according to Statistics Canada.
Canada performed relatively well in its employment of ICT specialists, coming fifth in 2014 behind Finland, Sweden, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the UK.
However, it could do better in terms of exporting ICT services. The country ranked 12th in the OECD charges for ICT services exports, exporting around $2.5bn in services overseas in 2013.
The digital economy goes beyond the ICT industry, the report emphasised, adding that it boosts economic growth and social well-being. National digital strategies driven by governments are crucial to the development of the digital economy, it said. 27 of the 34 countries covered in the OECD region – including Canada – have such a strategy.
These strategies should include a component concerning privacy, the report warned. 64% of respondents taking part in the report are more concerned about this issue than they were a year ago, and security and privacy are now the second and third top priorities for governments. Canada has a national privacy mandate in the form of PIPEDA, which was just updated by the Digital Privacy Act.
Global broadband markets are expanding, reaching almost 1 billion in the OECD area, and prices are dropping for mobile services across the region, the report said. Fibre is being deployed increasingly, representing 16.5% of broadband subscriptions in June 2014. Lower mobile fees are also driving smartphone adoption, which grew by 30% in one year (from 2012-3), it added.
Communications may be getting faster and cheaper, but companies still need to adopt other technologies. Less than a third (32%) use enterprise resource planning software, while only just over a fifth (22%) are using cloud computing services or taking orders electronically. In all cases, larger firms adopt technologies more than smaller ones, it concluded.
While companies take their time to adopt these technologies, they are enabling new, collaborative business models such as crowdfunding and sharing economy platforms, the report concluded.