Entrepreneurship

Wim Decraene Wim Decraene

Digital Density study reveals how Belgium can unlock new growth

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According to Accenture’s new Digital Density Index study launched on March 10 at VBO/FEB headquarters in Brussels, Belgium could add $10 billion to its GDP by 2020 by increasing the use of digital technologies, and in particular boosting e-commerce, Internet access and mobile broadband.

This encouraging finding supports Accenture’s commitment to Make Belgium Digital, which we are driving through a multi-channel campaign to boost competitiveness, economic growth and innovation.

Few business or political leaders today would question that digital technologies drive growth and productivity. Ask them how and they may struggle to explain. That is until now. The Accenture Digital Density Index is the first time a correlation has been made between the digital scorecard of a country and the GDP of that country. We have measured the extent to which digital technologies penetrate 17 leading economies (including Belgium) to discover how digital these countries really are and where they need to focus to realize major productivity gains in the future.

Increasing Digital Density is an opportunity to stimulate billions in new growth

How does Belgium score?

According to the study, the Netherlands ranks as having the highest digital density, followed by the US, Sweden, South Korea, the UK and Finland. Belgium ranks 12th worldwide, and scores below the European average. However, there are some positives, such as the rate of uptake of digital technologies by Belgian enterprises. Nevertheless, to realize the economic growth that digital promises, the Belgian economy must take several steps to boost progress:

  • Expanding Internet coverage for Belgian households and providing Internet access in schools
  • Making a clear shift to e-commerce (the share of transactions made online in Belgium is 4%, compared to more than 10% in the UK)
  • Catching up on online advertising expenditure
  • Deepening the ICT skills of workers and increasing ICT services
  • Investing in innovative, new technologies such as crowd sourcing
  • Making better use of digital platforms to access capital.
  • Despite a high score for fixed broadband Internet access, Belgium’s mobile broadband subscriptions per capita are half the European average at 0.5 per capita. Mobile access is therefore key to increasing our digital density score.

Accenture scored the Digital Density of 17 leading economies across 50 indicators

The Index uses 50 indicators to determine a country’s Digital Density scorecard. By identifying factors that reinforce or weaken the digital density of an economy, the Index can be used to avoid easy misconceptions and help business and political leaders focus investment in the right areas.

These indicators reflect the digital investment dilemmas facing today’s decision makers. Technologies are no longer distinct innovations that boost performance in certain processes or functions. They are ubiquitous. They are available in all areas of business and economic activity. They don’t just improve operational efficiency. They create entirely new market opportunities.

Digital transformation cannot depend on a narrow set of initiatives taken in isolation. The best broadband infrastructure will not be sufficient on its own; automating plants will not be the answer if those plants are not connected to broader supply chains; and prioritizing digital to drive greater efficiencies will likely mean missing the greater prize of generating new revenue streams. Only with a comprehensive and balanced scorecard of digital competency and investment will a country be able to drive greater productivity and growth.

Having a detailed understanding of what Digital Density means will enable Belgian decision makers to take full advantage of this potential. That’s why Digital Density should rank alongside access to natural resources, a good transportation system and skilled people in the list of discriminating criteria that business and political leaders must consider when making investment decisions.

Click here to read more about the Accenture Digital Density Index, or follow @AccentureStrat and @AccentureBeLux on Twitter.

Read more about Accenture’s campaign to Make Belgium Digital

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Wim Decraene

Managing Director, Accenture Digital

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