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Information Technology Outlook 2002

ICTs and the Information Economy

image of Information Technology Outlook 2002

Information technology (IT) continues to be a major driver of economic change, restructuring businesses, affecting skills and employment, and contributing significantly to growth and wealth creation. This volume describes the main trends in industries and businesses supplying IT goods and services. It looks at the impact of IT diffusion and applications, as well as the growing importance of network effects as the use of IT expands. It describes recent market dynamics and gives a detailed overview of the globalisation of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. It also analyses the increasingly important software sector and examines the growth in electronic commerce as well as some of the barriers to its expansion.

This volume also looks at developments in the provision and use of ICT skills, mismatches between supply and demand and potential remedies. It traces the diffusion of ICTs and examines the digital divide among individuals, households and businesses, then highlights the potential of selected technological developments that will affect the commercial exploitation and socio-economic impacts of ICTs in the medium term.

Finally, it provides an overview of IT policies in OECD countries, particularly those aimed at expanding the supply and use of ICT skills and overcoming the digital divide.

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ICTs and their Role in the Economy

This issue of the Information Technology Outlook suggests, on the basis of recent evidence and analysis, that something new is indeed taking place in the structure of OECD economies and that it is this transformation, driven and facilitated by information and communication technologies (ICTs), which has contributed to the high growth recorded in several OECD countries during the second half of the 1990s (OECD, 2001). In many respects, Solow's paradox is being resolved. In addition to the surge in investment, ICT also appears to have brought other, more qualitative, economic benefits, like valuable networks between suppliers and more choice for consumers, notably thanks to the Internet. ICT has spurred innovation in services, has improved the efficiency of manufacturing and design, while making inventories and overheads more manageable. It has been a catalyst of change in business, improving work organisation, and helping firms to reduce routine transaction costs and rationalise their supply chains. Crucially, ICT, particularly when combined with skill upgrading and organisational change, seems to have facilitated productivity-enhancing changes within firms, in both new and traditional industries.  Such benefits are long-term in their effects, and will continue to develop, even given the difficulties and challenges that the industry faces today.

English French

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