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“We don’t even notice how important the Internet has become in our lives anymore,” said Agnes Streissler-Führer, who conducted the study of the Austrian Internet economy for Google together with her team. The study focused on the economic value of the Internet. The local Internet economy now contributes EUR 17.3 billion to Austria’s overall economic output. About 5.6 percent of Austrian gross domestic product is generated over the Internet, the study said.
But while most companies now use the Internet for purchasing, only 12 percent of all Austrian retailers also offer their goods for sale on the Internet. And there is room for improvement on the consumer side, as well: While 81 percent of Austrians have Internet access today, 77 percent of them broadband, only 40 percent of all households shop online. So the study shows that there is considerable potential for growth on both ends.
The study’s author Streissler-Führer sees the greatest potential with traditional companies. Start-ups already have an affinity for the Internet, and are naturally online, but the traditional companies have a lot of catching up to do, she said. “Multichanneling generates growth. There is no risk of cannibalizing your own business through an online presence,” Streissler-Führer said. Numerous studies have shown that these fears are unfounded.
Making public data accessible
Another important aspect is the accessibility of public data. Freely accessible public data leads to greater transparency and improved collaboration, the study said. And companies can also offer new services on the basis of this data. “It would be especially important to make research data publicly available,” Streissler-Führer said. Companies that do not have access to it are two years behind in innovation on average, she added.
Overall, Austria is in middle field in terms of its Internet economy compared with the other OECD countries. But the study’s author stressed that it is important to stay on the ball.
The most web-savvy cities
As part of the presentation of the study, the “most web-savvy cities” in Austria were also named, and distinguished as so-called eTowns. This Europe-wide Google initiative is based on different criteria, and identifies the cities in which companies are shifting their business, sales and marketing activities to the Internet more quickly and comprehensively than elsewhere. The first filter Google applies for this is the use of its AdWords advertising platform. Then, the institution Ipsos measures the digitalization of business models, for example whether a company has its own web site, the extent of their offerings for mobile devices, and to what extent they use the social media.
Austria was divided into three zones: east, west and south. Then, a winner was determined in each region. The most web-savvy cities are: Krems an der Donau (east), Graz (south) and Innsbruck (west). The winners of the eTown award in all countries can be viewed on this web site.