Every entrepreneur is a digital entrepreneur: Accenture

Every entrepreneur is a digital entrepreneur, with new and emerging technology set to enable innovative businesses to create up to 10 million new jobs for young people among the world’s G20 countries, according to a new report by Accenture.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

New research by management consulting and technology services company, Accenture, has found that new and emerging technology has the potential to help create up to 10 million new jobs for young people in G20 countries, as entrepreneurs around the world step into the role of the "digital entrepreneur".

Accenture's research report, 'The promise of digital entrepreneurs: creating 10 million youth jobs in the G20 countries', is based on a survey of 1,080 entrepreneurs in all of the G20 countries and was published in time for this year's G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit, held in Sydney over the weekend.

The report said that the rise of digital technologies was paving the way for the emergence of the "digital entrepreneur", accompanied by a new large-scale open innovation culture, which had the potential to open up 10 million jobs for young people in the G20 nations.

"Large-scale open innovation is boosted by the rise of new digital technologies, which support participation by a large number of geographically dispersed participants and provide opportunities to create new business models," the report said.

"In fact, every entrepreneur is now a digital entrepreneur and many of them are focusing their innovation efforts on the so-called 'sharing economy': business models that heavily use digital platforms to enable consumers and businesses to actively share and exchange assets, products and services for mutual benefit," it said.

According to OECD research, firms of five years old or younger, generated nearly half of all new jobs created in the past decade, while accounting for only about 20 percent of non-financial business sector employment.

"During the global financial crisis, most of the jobs destroyed were the result of established businesses downsizing, while net job growth in young firms remained positive," the report said. 

Accenture's research showed that the more innovative young entrepreneurs were, the confident they were of creating jobs.

The survey found that 83 percent of respondents said they believed that innovation — particularly technology-driven innovation — was vital to grow their business and create jobs.

The report said that at the heart of entrepreneurs' innovation and economic competitiveness lie digital technologies such as social media, mobile computing, cloud computing, big data, and the emerging internet-of-things.

"Emerging in the past five years, these technologies are now reaching a critical mass," the report said. "In the process, they are having a significant impact on businesses in all industries, as companies focus on new ways they can weave these technologies into the next generation of their business strategies."

However, the report also outlined a number of barriers potentially preventing the scaling of new enterprises and future employment increases, including ongoing funding access, sustained innovation, international borders, and variable skill-sets.

If these barriers could be overcome, said the report, up to 10 million new jobs for young people could be created by fostering "vibrant technology-enabled ecosystems".

The report found that innovation did not flourish in isolation, but must be part of an open innovation ecosystem, including many different parties that lie "far outside the walls of the organisation".

According to Accenture, this could help drive the reduction of youth unemployement in the G20 from 13 percent to 10 percent.

Over 75 percent of respondents saw open innovation as a key enabler, welcoming collaboration with large companies, customers, research and development institutes, incubators or accelerators, non-profit organisations and other startups.

"These collaboration partners play a critical role in the innovation process," the report said. "They are bridgemakers that serve as the conveyor belt between the supply of innovation (entrepreneurs) and the demand for it (customers and governments using it)."

Only a quarter of the entrepreneurs surveyed said they believed the actions taken by their government to support entrepreneurial innovation and youth job creation are relevant and efficient.

Conversely, one-fifth of respondents believed that their governments had not done enough to support their international expansion efforts.

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