Digital Planet Opening Statement

Opening Statement
Harris Miller
Digital Planet Press Conference

Good afternoon. I am Harris Miller, president of the World Information Technology and Services Alliance, otherwise known as WITSA, and the Information Technology Association of America. I am pleased to be joined here by Gaylen Duncan, President of the Information Technology Association of Canada and Ann-Marie Nilsson, who runs our sister association in Sweden.

WITSA represents the global information technology industry and today, as many of the world's nations meet at this OECD conference to pursue important questions about fostering the growth of the new information economy, we have a truly global story to tell.

The information technology industry is less than fifty years old. Yet in less than one human lifetime, this incredible technology has virtually reshaped human hopes, dreams and even destiny. At the same time, the global size, scope and impact of information technology has never been fully appreciated. That's because-ironically--we lacked the information necessary to put the pieces together.

Today the puzzle is solved and many of the questions answered. I am pleased to introduce you to Digital Planet: The Global Information Economy. This is the first ever study which systematically and comprehensively documents the global information and communications technology marketplace. And with almost $2 trillion spent around the world on ICT last year, I think it fair to say we now inhabit a digital planet.

But beyond a big number, what does a "digital planet" mean? To begin, ICT is an engine of economic growth. In the last six years, this global industry grew 27 percent faster than global gross domestic product. This kind of growth fuels national economies. At the most basic level, ICT is responsible for 6 percent of global aggregate GDP. While the ratio of ICT to GDP naturally varies from country to country, this aggregate percentage suggests that ICT is having an enormous impact on the global economy.

On main street, "impact" can be measured in new companies and jobs created; new wealth for shareholders; new opportunities and improved quality of life; convenience, affordability, choice; I think the benefits of this incredibly malleable technology may be limited only by the limits of human imagination.

As nations have translated their ideas into ICT solutions, ICT has become a bulwark for social and economic growth. Our study suggests that countries see the construction of a digital infrastructure as critical to their future. We think that is why strong ICT investments appear to continue even in the face of weakening economic conditions overall.

And this vision seems to be rewarded too. Digital Planet indicates that ICT spending is correlated to global GDP growth-and that countries that make these ICT investments enjoy a stronger, faster bounce back from economic doldrums.

Digital Planet also looks at the social impacts of ICT. Perhaps the biggest transformation of how we live, work and learn is taking place right on our desktops. PCs in homes and schools have jumped from 35 million in 1992 to 118 million last year. Once people have access to PCs, they turn their attention to the world. We believe World Wide Web utilization will hit 100 million people this year and 320 million by 2002.

I invite you to spend some time with this incredibly revealing new study. The scope of Digital Planet is vast, encompassing over 50 countries and accounting for 98 percent of the world's spending on ICT. In addition to global and regional roll ups, you will find country by country comparisons across a wide variety of indicators: hardware, software, telecommunications, IT services, and, for the first time, internal corporate IT spending.

This level of detailed information puts the global ICT marketplace in perspective. For instance, it may come as no surprise that the U.S. and Japan account for over half of the world market.

  • Did you know, however, that the People's Republic of China and Brazil are two of the fastest growing ICT markets? Or that these two countries rank in the top ten of total ICT spending among nations?
  • Did you know that Russia spends less on telecommunications than Portugal or Greece?
  • Did you know that telecom spending in China has quadrupled in since 1992?
  • Did you know Canada is a "top ten" country in total ICT spending, telecommunications spending, hardware spending, internal IT spending, IT services spending, software spending, and office equipment spending?

These are some of the eye-opening facts brought forward by this unprecedented new study. I believe it's a study you will be able to base many stories on, now and in the future. Both because the data is so rich and, second, because the study is conducted by International Data Corporation, a world leader in market research for the information technology industry.

At this point, I would like to thank NASDAQ, the Japan Information Service Industry Association, the European IT Software and Services Association, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, and the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology for their generous support of this effort.

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