A new report on the UK’s internet economy has been released. Postitioning the UK as “The Connected Kingdom“, the report states that the UK internet economy is worth £100b – 7.2% of GDP. This figure is predicted to grow to 10% by 2015.

Commissioned by Google UK but researched and written independently by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the report reveals that SMEs are fueling much of this growth. More than 900 small and medium enterprises were surveyed by BCG highlighting that the companies that actively use the Internet reported overall sales growth more than four times greater than that of less active companies.

This video (below) gives an overview of the key stats and includes some brief case studies on some UK SMEs for which the web is integral to their business success.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APzSQ7a2foE&feature=player_embedded

So how far behind our neighbours are we in the e-commerce stakes?

Ireland’s Broadband Performance and Policy Actions” published by Forfas in January 2010, pinpoints that it is in investment in digital infrastructure that we lag behind our EU counterparts. Ireland has 21.4 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants compared to the OECD average of 22.4 (excluding mobile broadband and leading countries such as the Netherlands (38.1) and Denmark (37).

The download speeds available in Ireland have eeked upwards in recent times but remain well below the fastest speeds available to customers in other OECD countries. In Ireland 0.6 percent of total broadband connections are fibre connections. This compares to 11.3 percent of subscribers on average in OECD-28 countries.

Despite these shortcomings in the digital plumbing, research published by AMAS on behalf of the IIA earlier this year shows that Irish companies have a greater percentage of online sales than any other country, accounting for 26% of Irish firms turnover as compared to 15% in the UK. So we may not be a “Connected Kingdom” as such but Irish businesses are, for the most part, leveraging the internet as much as currently possible.  It makes you wonder, if the resources and infrastructure were present, where would Ireland sit on the e-commerce leader board?