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  The consistent use of information and communication technology (ICT) by the government and economy could generate approx.
Consulting-Times E-zine
75 billion euros of additional economic output for Germany by 2008, according to a study presented by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Deutsche Telekom and Siemens Communications (Com) in Berlin.

This could be achieved on the basis of an “ICT master plan” that involves an e-strategy and implementing measures to make use of growth potential in the ICT sector.

The ICT sector, which generates an annual economic output of more than 130 billion euros in Germany, is one of the most important branches of industry and, as an innovation driver, could accelerate technological innovation in its areas of application.

In order to make consistent use of the potential of ICT for Germany, a national Chief Information Officer (CIO) should be appointed at federal level, who would coordinate the implementation of the ICT master plan for politics, business economy and citizens, according to the study's authors.

The central demands of the package of measures include, for example, increased use of e-government and e-health in the public sector, as well as education and qualification-building programs and the promotion of innovation.

In the joint study entitled “Economic and political opportunities of the information society,” the authors not only point out how the German ICT sector is positioned compared to international competition, but also shows the areas in which politics and the economy have to act in order to utilize the full potential of the ICT sector and implement economic growth for Germany.

According to Dr. Dieter Heuskel, Senior Vice President of The Boston Consulting Group, “The ICT sector in Germany has the potential, like the automotive industry, to lead the way in terms of quality standards, technical progress and international competitive strength. If German corporations which operate globally are to take on a kind of 'beacon' function, this will only be possible with competitive, high-quality application and supplier industries.”

Contributing six percent to gross value added, the ICT sector ranks top within Germany and is much further ahead than the mechanical engineering, automotive or building sectors. In addition, with its above-average growth rates, the ICT sector already contributes a good third to the productivity growth in Germany.

However, in comparison with other countries, the German ICT sector is only middle-ranking and achieved much lower productivity gains in the last few years than comparable sectors in the UK, Sweden or the USA, for example.

From 1995 to 2002 Germany only generated half the American productivity growth from ICT. According to the results of the study, Germany is way behind its potential.

This can be seen clearly by looking at international examples: South Korea increased the ICT contribution of its economy to 15 percent by a massive expansion of broadband infrastructure and by offering innovative broadband applications.

With the introduction of the digital signature, Austria became the leading e-government user in Europe.

The UK already introduced an extensive program for boosting efficiency in the public sector through the use of ICT in 2003, and intends to achieve savings totalling 30 billion euros by 2006/07.

Australia has already introduced ICT successfully in public services: the Centrelink administration model provides an Internet portal with approx. 140 administration services and bundles the services previously offered by 32 public authorities.

Above all, the study highlights that Germany has a lot of catching up to do in terms of e-government and e-health.

Both public ICT spending (0.6 percent of GDP) and the range of online administration services has developed much less than in comparable countries. In terms of public services alone, the authors believe that increased use of ICT through improved procedures and organizational forms has the potential for saving 27 billion euros annually. In addition, citizens and companies could face savings of approx. 10 billion euros per year through more efficient interaction with public offices.

In their master plan for more growth through ICT, the authors list eight points for recommended action and in doing so show how ambitious growth targets can be achieved by 2008:

1. Increase use of e-government and e-health to realize productivity gains in the public sector

2. Increase legal certainty and investment stability as a framework for establishing a leading international infrastructure and effective innovative competition

3. Integrate ICT training into school and vocational training plans (“networked teaching”, e-learning)

4. Train 5,000 additional university graduates in the ICT sector

5. Promote ICT skills and widespread use in companies and public authorities

6. Increase the use of ICT in small and medium-sized businesses through the development and communication of innovative ICT programs

7. Establish foundation centres and innovation clusters for promoting innovation activities, the use of spillover effects and better knowledge transfer

8. Intensify R&D; collaborations and improve the allocation of research activities to economic players and public institutions

In order to coordinate and drive forward the implementation of the master plan, the study suggests that the federal government create the position of a Chief Information Officer (CIO).
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