It is impossible to provide robust evidence-based policy advice without facts – for this reason measurement is one of the hallmarks of the OECD. Existing statistics do a reasonable job of mapping the broad parameters of our digital economies and societies, but the speed of technological change means we need to stay nimble.

Designing better policies for a digital economy and society requires further efforts to improve measurement and evidence, including on the spread of digital technologies themselves. Digitalisation also raises challenges for the measurement of growth and productivity.

A key ambition of the Going Digital project is to begin filling data gaps and in doing so enable better benchmarking, evidence building, policy development, and identification and prioritisation of reforms.


Access to new data sources for statistics: Business models and incentives for the corporate sector

New data sources, commonly referred to as “big data”, have attracted growing interest from National Statistical Institutes. They have the potential to complement official and more conventional statistics used, for instance, to determine progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other targets. However, it is often assumed that this type of data is readily available, which is not necessarily the case. This paper examines legal requirements and business incentives to obtain agreement on private data access, and more generally ways to facilitate the use of big data for statistical purposes. Using practical cases, the paper analyses the suitability of five generic data access models for different data sources and data uses in an emerging new data ecosystem. Concrete recommendations for policy action are presented in the conclusions.

Measuring GDP in a digitalised economy

Recent years have seen a rapid emergence of new disruptive technologies with new forms of intermediation, service provision and consumption, with digitalisation being a common characteristic. These include new platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer transactions, such as AirBnB and Uber, new activities such as crowd sourcing, a growing category of the ‘occasional self-employed’ and prevalence of ‘free’ media services, funded by advertising and ‘big data’. Against a backdrop of slowing rates of measured productivity growth, this has raised questions about the conceptual basis of GDP and output, and whether current compilation methods are adequate to capture them. This paper frames the discussion under an umbrella of the Digitalised Economy, covering also statistical challenges where digitalisation is a complicating feature such as international transactions and knowledge based assets. It delineates between conceptual and compilation issues and highlights areas where further investigations are merited. The overall conclusion is that, on balance, the accounting framework for GDP looks to be up to the challenges posed by digitalisation. Many practical measurement issues remain, however, in particular concerning price changes and where digitalisation meets internationalisation.