In Davos, leaders are attempting to find ways to restart the sputtering global economy. Two new studies released today at the World Economic Forum offer an answer: open up an Internet browser on our laptop, mobile phone or tablet and encourage the Internet.



The Boston Consulting group’s “Digital Manifesto” predicts that the value of the Internet economy in of the world's top 20 economies will boom to $4.2 trillion in 2016—nearly double 2010’s number. One of the biggest drivers will be the huge increase in the number of people accessing the web. In four years, the report predicts three billion people will be using the internet, or nearly 50% of the world's population.

The Internet does not just benefit the developed world, either. It contributes an average of 1.9 percent of GDP across 30 countries in the developing world and generated 1.9 million jobs alone in six countries: Hungary, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam, according to the new McKinsey & Co. report, also released today in Davos.

Both the McKinsey and BCG reports are the latest chapter in more than a year of work by the two consultancies and others on the Internet’s growing economic impact. Full disclosure: Google funded this joint research effort, though the reports were conducted independently. Until now, the research focused largely on Europe. For example, the BCG’s “Connected Kingdom” report published in the U.K. in October 2010 found (amongst other things) that the Internet contributed £100bn, or 7.2% of GDP, and forecasted that the figure will rise to 10% of GDP by 2015. You can see the full range of all these country reports on a new website.

Understanding the economic potential of the web is crucial, especially given Europe's current economic challenges. In Brussels this week, on the same day European Finance ministers were meeting to discuss the situation in Greece, we hosted an event to illustrate how countries and companies are able to reap the rewards of the Internet. Google, BCG and McKinsey are well known international businesses, but the the message of all our work is that small businesses going online will drive the majority of growth of the Internet economy in the future.