The digital economy is a global economic structure developing out of the advances occurring daily in digital technology. As steam technology was the driver of the industrial revolution, digital technology is the driver of the digital revolution that is in full swing right now.
Digital technology is bringing with it new ways of managing the economics of society and further than that enabling opportunities to new business that previously did not exist. The obvious examples of economic management include online banking. Direct payments, online account management and interaction with banks has sped up payments and all but eliminated cheque books and visits to the local branch. Online commerce is growing dramatically enabling and provides a great many opportunities for businesses to participate in broader markets easily and efficiently.
What is perhaps less obvious is the extent to which the digital age is creating economic opportunities that exist entirely within the technology. Google is a mega-business that exists solely within the digital realm based on digital content and serving digital purposes. Amazon and eBay are huge businesses because of their digital foundations. Companies producing traditional goods can expand their economic base through digital activities such as marketing, interactivity
In 2011 the Australian Government released a National Digital Economy Strategy detailing actions and targets the government considers important to the national economic and social status.
The Internet is the main communication backbone and the most commonly used of its facilities are the World Wide Web (www) and email. Popular WWW services are the personal or business website and the social media phenomena of Twitter and Facebook. Email has been around of years and is an Internet standard. It’s a way to push your message out to specific people. It was and still is a good way to reach people directly, but has been so badly abused that it’s effectiveness has been savagely reduced.
The website has also been around for years and is primarily a method to push information out to the world. You can get help from search engines and a lot of energy is spent encouraging as much search engine help as possible. There is not scope for people to share website information.
Twitter and Facebook brought to web-based communication the capability to massively increase exposure as advertising and SEO once had, but through the sharing of information by people unrelated to you or your business. The massive increase in potential exposure to and through complete strangers and the capacity of these channels to multiply exposure is extremely powerful and can be used to great advantage by astute marketers who want to increase their reach to targeted groups, their friends and associates and their friends and associates.
The difficulty that old-skool thinkers have with the digital economy is that there is nothing tangible changing hands. The products being sold have no physical form, the knowledge being exchanged often has no practical purpose except to take advantage of this virtual economy. Even th payment rarely manifests as cash. It is just numbers increasing and decreasing as products and services are bought and sold.
Even if your business is primarily involved in the exchange of goods and services that do involve a physical component, there is a great deal of value for you in using the techniques and channels of the digital economy. Whether to support your physical business or to develop entirely new offerings for existing or new customers, those that embrace the digital economy will prosper, those that don’t will face an ever-shrinking market.