Lifting barriers to the continued success of the UK’s data economy could lead to a £7 billion increase in its value, according to a new report by Digital Realty.

The Data Economy Report looked at four European nations and the impact of their data economies: the UK, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. It found that in the UK, the gross value added (GVA) by the data economy in 2016 accounted for 4.2 per cent of the national economy.

It also revealed that out of the four countries, the UK has the largest digital economy, with an estimated annual value of £73.3 billion. In terms of drivers, the report highlighted the increasing ubiquity of connected devices and sensors, which has resulted in “a huge increase in the global rate at which data is being generated”.

However, there are a number of constraints that could hinder its potential for growth. The report authors warned: “While it is expected that the value of the data economy will continue to grow strongly, there is a danger that unless significant constraints and barriers are not addressed, a large proportion of the potential value of the data economy will remain unrealised.”

These include an under-developed awareness in some businesses of the potential benefits of data analytics, as well as a resistance to and fear of potential organisational change entailed by data analytics.

In addition, the absence of available resources regarding the ability to integrate and manage large datasets and shortages of sufficient skilled staff were named as obstacles to the data economy’s growth.

Digital Realty also pointed to the lack of financial means to make the technological and staffing investments, particularly in the case of smaller businesses and organisations, as one reason why the data economy could see its growth hampered.

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