ICT Measurement From Information Society to Digital Economy

ICT Measurement From Information Society to Digital Economy

Gulnara Abdrakhmanova (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia), Leonid Gokhberg (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia) and Alexander Sokolov (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Russia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3473-1.ch034
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Information and communication technology has become a major driver of changes in economic, social, public, and private life. Higher speed internet, lower unit prices and smart devices have favoured new and more data-intensive applications. Technology development enables radical changes in business models and creates a background for a new economic paradigm – the digital economy. Identification of key trends in and analysis of digital transformation processes requires reliable statistical data and indicators. Development of relevant international statistics plays a vital role here hence, via establishing and updating harmonised standards. The measurement concepts are to be based on statistical standards covering definitions, classifications, and data collection methodologies ensuring cross-country data comparability. It requires novel methodologies and data collection tools involving alternative data sources. The objective of this paper is to present a systemic overview of established methodological standards as well as new trends towards measuring the digital economy.
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Over the past twenty years, technologies using microelectronics for collection, storage, processing, retrieval, transmission, and presentation of data, texts, images, and sound, collectively known as ICT have completely changed all people’s activities. The pattern of ICT development and its impact on economic growth and welfare has been reflected in a sequence of theoretical concepts based on a certain degree of understanding of allied transformations (Figure 1). Influence of ICT led at to emergence of a new socioeconomic configuration commonly referred to as the Information Society on the edge of 1990-2000s.

The Information Society is based on extensive use of information and its proliferation into economic and social processes, and engagement of all economic agents – business, governments, and citizens – into the system of communications. Due to inclusion of all these agents in the digital space, big data generated in the digital form has become a factor of economic productivity (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Evolution of definitions of economic formations and processes related to ICT

Source: compiled by the authors.

The rapid proliferation of ICT and their impact on all spheres of modern life (see [Ahmad et al., 2004]) – production processes, the interaction of individuals and organisations between themselves and with public authorities, the development of social infrastructure, and privacy issues – has stimulated the interest to statistical analysis of the ICT trends at the global, national and regional levels. Demand for statistical data has been changing along with the transformation of the very nature of various aspects of the economy and everyday life due to its digitalisation, while new measurement opportunities appear out of the progress of digital communications and the availability of large data arrays suitable for statistical processing and analysis. Overall, there is a need for the measuring of the digital technology and digital economy as a whole, while relevant international statistical standards have not yet been developed.



The Information Society is usually understood as a society that makes extensive use of information networks and technologies, produces large quantities of ICT goods and services, and has a diversified content industry. Both theoretical and practical issues related to measuring different aspect of information society have been increasingly addressed by many authors during the last two decades (see for example [Gokhberg, Boegh-Nielsen, 2007;Blank, Groselj, 2014;Dolničar et al., 2014;Billon et al., 2016]). As we can conclude from existing international statistical practices in this sphere, the key three thematic “pillars” related to the measurement of ICT are as follows (Figure 2):

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    The ICT sector and supply of ICT: which industries it includes, how important are they for the national economy, how many enterprises are involved and how many persons are employed, which types of products and services are produced, and what is the total turnover?

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    Technical infrastructure, including the penetration rates of landline and mobile telephone networks, the number of computers per inhabitant and the intensity of Internet connections (whether or not a country is ready to become an information-based society).

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    ICT demand: which enterprises and individuals are using ICT products and services? Which technologies are being used, and why? What barriers hamper a country’s integration into the global Information Society?

Figure 2.

The conceptual model of the Information Society

Source: [Gokhberg, Bшegh-Nielsen, 2007].

Key Terms in this Chapter

Information Industry Statistics: A sub-area of information society statistics studying all aspects of the ICT and content-related activities.

Information Society Statistics: The newest branch of social and economic statistics aimed at studying all aspects of activities related to the production of ICT goods and services, distribution and usage of ICT in the economy, social and public sectors, and private life ( HSE, 2014 ).

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): Technologies using microelectronics for collection, storage, processing, retrieval, transmission, and presentation of data, texts, images, and sound ( HSE, 2014 ).

ICT Sphere: Supply, demand, and usage of ICT.

ICT Usage Statistics: A sub-area of information society statistics studying all aspects of activities involving application of ICT in the business sector, social sphere, public administration, households, and by individuals.

International Statistics: Harmonised statistical methodologies and data collected and published by international organisations based on standardised programmes, to conduct regional and international comparisons.

International Statistical Standards for Measuring ICT: A set of internationally accepted recommendations on statistical surveying of information society, specifying requirements to statistical data and describing methodology for building basic indicators, based on harmonisation of national statistical standards.

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