Austria

“96% of Austrains use Computers”

What e-content means in Austria:

A: The first stage of the production of content, whether it is digitized or not, is based on creative human output. Digital content industries include every Internet business, which delivers digitized information (text, data, image, audio, video, etc.). In broadening the view from digitization to interactivity and integration as key elements for successful innovations in content, we have to take multimedia industries into account.

What is the current status of e-content in your country, including national e-content development across all the sectors of the industry?

Around 21,000 enterprises are today in the field of ICT in Austria. In 2001, the entire e-commerce sales (sales via internet and/or electronic data interchange [EDI]) of Austrian enterprises was 22.8 billion euro according to Statistic Austria (http://www.statistik.at). These are approximately 7% of the entire conversions, which corresponds to an enormous increase in relation to the previous year (reference value 2000: 2.5%).

Over the Internet a conversion of 6.3 billion Euro (approximately 1.9% of the gross income) was obtained. The larger part of the e-commerce sales was made by EDI (16.5 billion euro, approximately 5.1% of the gross income). In 2001, 21% of all enterprises received orders over Internet.

The buyers of the goods and services sold over Internet are to be found primarily in Austria: 82% of the Internet conversion goes to domestic buyers while 11% are sold in the European Union area.

The special goods production, at 10.4 billion Euro, carries the lion’s share of the e-commerce sales. The trade sector converted 8.4 billion euro in Austria in 2001.

Which e-content area is best developed in your country?

Austria has a rich body of content in different disciplines due to a long tradition of museums, archives, universities and research activities as well as today’s public sector and private firm content. Not all the content that could be the raw material for value-added services is available in a digital format.

Which sectors in your country are the leaders in e-content development?

Thanks to the efforts of public institutions within the last few years, more content is accessible than immediately needed.

Please describe the progress of e-content development in your country.

With the discussions about implementing the new European directive on public sector information, the access to information resources will be clarified to all the actors in the content-marketplace. Driven by pioneers of the private sector, Austria was among the first countries within Europe whose citizens were served with high quality online newspapers, services related to land registration, to the commercial registration and to legal information.

What have been the major bottlenecks in the development of e-content in your country?

One of the big challenges of Austrian-based firms is the fact that a small country forms a small home-market for the industry. Despite this fact, Austrian companies have developed centers of gravity and international respectability in certain content fields. Among these are the fields of gaming, education and e-learning, services based on public sector information, culture and entertainment (museums, music, and history), tourism, and geographical information. Outstanding, in light of the size of the country, are the activities of Austrian publishers of newspapers and Austrian news agencies. As early movers in Europe, they are well known for their innovative capacity and international efforts.

The size of the Austrian private equity industry is very small and out of line with Austria’s general economic position. After years of stagnation, there exists a growing interest in private equity investment in Austria today. This interest is shared by the industrial and the financial sectors as well as by the Government. Most of the interest is focused on development capital and the late stage sector. In order to stimulate the development of a viable private equity industry, and particularly the early-stage technology sector, the Austrian Government has put in place a new scheme that uses federal guarantees.

In developed countries ICT has become part of daily life and e-content development is primarily left to the initiatives of individuals or organizations. On the other hand, in less developed countries, the development of e-content is largely dependent on ICT infrastructure. Please give a detailed analysis of the situation in your country.

In the coming years, the use of the Internet will continue to grow. IT expenditure will grow too, but in most countries, at a much smaller rate than the use of the Internet. For each European Union member state, it will be important to provide sufficient capital supply, with a strong focus on venture capital to support the growing demand for digital content. At the moment, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Austria and Greece need to improve the balance between supply of capital and the demand for digital content more than other countries. As long as the IT expenditure and Internet use increase, the demand for digital content will grow. Until that point has been reached, the supply of venture capital, especially concerning the communications and computer-related sectors and early-stage investments, needs to grow accordingly.

The last two years have seen the emergence of new forms of infrastructure that may be a feature of the type of entrepreneur involved. The stereotypical entrepreneur of the Internet sectors is:
» Young, aged between 20 and 30;
» IT literate and may have formal IT qualifications;
» Inexperienced in business start-ups.

These entrepreneurs are not following the traditions of previous generations. They are less secretive and more likely to work in teams and be willing to portion out shares of the gains in return for additional expertise. As a result, they are highly proficient networkers. This may also be a feature of their youth but it is certainly a carry over from their personal attitudes to the Internet culture of open systems and architecture, networking and sharing participation in a fast growing movement.

Another innovative structure that taps into the ‘networking and exchange cultures’ are ‘incubators’. These are city-based offices where small firms are clustered together to share common resources. Physically, they resemble the long proven concept of the ‘managed workshop’ where start-ups alleviate some costs through sharing physical resources. However, the philosophy behind the incubators is somewhat different. Not only are the tenant firms sharing physical resources, but they are also expected to exchange ideas and engage each other’s complementary skills. Again, this is using the propensity of the Internet entrepreneur to network and build teams and share out gains in exchange for skilled inputs. As a result, incubators tend to be more sector focused than managed workshops. They are almost exclusively for IT, computer and Internet firms.

How would you describe the ICT scenario in your country? Please describe in terms of infrastructure, penetration, acceptance and policies.

At the beginning of 2003, more than 96% of Austrian enterprises were using computers. While nearly 100% of all central and large-scale enterprises (with 50 and more persons employed) use computers, only 96 % of small businesses do so. The reference value is 94% in 2002.
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In 35% of enterprises, an enterprise-internal Intranet is used. 50% of all enterprises have LAN and 8% have a wireless LAN Network (WLAN).

40% of all enterprises have special computer-systems for the treatment of orders or the execution of purchases. In the sector trade, this is even 61%. With 27% of all enterprises, these computer-systems are linked directly with the accounting and payment system.

At the beginning of 2003, nearly 91% of Austrian enterprises were using the Internet. In 2002, it had been 85%.

58% of Austrian enterprises with Internet access have a broadband connection. Under large-scale enterprises, this increases to 87%.

Bank and financial services over the Internet are used by 71% of enterprises. Nearly three quarters of enterprises (74%) use e-government offers from public places to download forms. Each fifth enterprise completes official procedures electronically.

71% of all enterprises were represented in 2003 with their own web site on the Internet. In 2002, the figure was just 65%.

How do you see the future of e-content development in your country?

At the beginning of 2003, more than 96% of Austrian enterprises were using computers. While nearly 100% of all central and large-scale enterprises (with 50 and more persons employed) use computers, only 96 % of small businesses do so. The reference value is 94% in 2002.

In 35% of enterprises, an enterprise-internal Intranet is used. 50% of all enterprises have LAN and 8% have a wireless LAN Network (WLAN).

40% of all enterprises have special computer-systems for the treatment of orders or the execution of purchases. In the sector trade, this is even 61%. With 27% of all enterprises, these computer-systems are linked directly with the accounting and payment system.

At the beginning of 2003, nearly 91% of Austrian enterprises were using the Internet. In 2002, it had been 85%.

58% of Austrian enterprises with Internet access have a broadband connection. Under large-scale enterprises, this increases to 87%.

Bank and financial services over the Internet are used by 71% of enterprises. Nearly three quarters of enterprises (74%) use e-government offers from public places to download forms. Each fifth enterprise completes official procedures electronically.

71% of all enterprises were represented in 2003 with their own web site on the Internet. In 2002, the figure was just 65%.

As an expert in your country, what would be the five most important pillars of e-content development?

Within the context of the overall European development, some basic matters that form the mainframe of content production have to be addressed and solved. None of the following complex matters can be addressed on a national level alone:

First, as already mentioned, the rules of accessing and exploiting public sector information have to be defined in a way that gives the stability of the law to all the market participants.

The second matter is the management of digital rights. Not only do the different traditions of European laws have to be balanced, but also, on a pragmatic level, the efficiency and speed of clearing rights and obtaining licences should be increased.

The third topic concerns payment and billing systems. Above all, the situation for micro-payments, one of the main factors for the mass-market, has to be improved.

The fourth topic concerns the private sector alone: attention has to be drawn to the revenue sharing models between content owners, aggregators, application developers / producers, and distributors, mainly the network operators. With respect to the inter-dependency of all the parts of the value chain, revenue sharing should encourage content aggregators and application developers to follow innovative approaches.

Austria has an excellent infrastructure to face the future. Not only is the Internet and mobile penetration outstandingly high, but also the quality of both cable and wireless networks. The future will deal with digital TV, broadband and mobile. On the basis of excellent Internet infrastructure, a lot of companies develop content for these different platforms and see the potential of cross media services for content applications.

Please explain which is the most preferred medium for e-content development: Print, TV, the Internet, Radio, Mobile/Wireless or a combination of some of these?

The Internet is the preferred developing medium. Yet, it is still offline products that account for most of a company’s development and production time related to multimedia production, but this is changing. More and more mobile applications are coming into the market.

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