The Internet:
the enabling force
of the 21st century

Changing our world

From our economies to our social lives, there is not a single area of our civilization
that has not been touched by the Internet. The pace at which it is transforming
economies, businesses and human interactions in the professional and private context
is breathtaking. The opportunities it offers are endless and the disruption it brings is
fascinating and overwhelming at the same time.

Even though it is nowadays impossible to imagine a world without the Internet, it still remains a comparatively young phenomonen. A number of reports have tried to capture its value. Here we provide a snapshot of that value to society, to individuals and firms by bringing to life relevant, publicly available findings on the economic and social value of the Internet.

We also provide vivid examples of how Internet services and platforms drive economic growth, innovation and social change.

What we have included here is a snapshot of uses of the Internet that we find particularly interesting. We show how the Internet economy goes far beyond technology companies and enthusiasts and has a positive impact on small businesses and entrepreneurs, consumers, innovation, education, life-long learning and inclusion.

Our key conclusion is that economic growth and social change are not primarily driven by Internet companies, rather by every business and citizen using the services that run over the Internet.

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The Internet economy will continue to grow for years to come. It is one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy and an instrument that renders other sectors more dynamic.

Our case studies illustrate one central point: the Internet is the enabling force of the 21st century. It allows small businesses to reach global markets and be more efficient, it creates new niche markets and entrepreneurs, it empowers consumers and enables more inclusive access to education. Data-driven innovation will not only make our economy smarter but will also lead to new scientific breakthroughs. The social, economic and political benefits we will derive through Internet-enabled societies are only just becoming apparent.

Europe has gained significantly from the Internet era. Our businesses are trading globally using the Internet as their platform. As more and more businesses absorb online tools and services into their daily operations their competitiveness increases. More efficient online bookkeeping, online advertising and further cloud-based solutions are just some examples.

European Internet start-up hubs like the ones we see in London or Berlin continue to grow, to spread and to achieve critical mass. Europe’s creative hubs provide a fertile environment for the digitally enabled businesses and digital innovators of tomorrow, something we hope policymakers will seek to support and exploit.