Almost one-third of Australia’s total gross domestic product (GDP) can be attributed to the digital economy, according to new research.

The number, in a new study by Accenture Strategy and Oxford Economics, is almost six times higher than some previous estimates.

For example, Australia’s Digital Pulse, released by the ACS and Deloitte last year, more conservatively estimated that the digital economy contributed 5.1 percent of Australia’s total GDP.

Accenture and Oxford Economics said they had come up with a new statistical model that more accurately reflected digital’s true influence on the total economy.

And they predicted that Australia could achieve another 2.4 percent in GDP growth by 2020 – adding some $34 billion – by pulling a combination of certain digital “levers”.

Those levers consist of digital accelerators, technology and skills, and Accenture’s modelling shows how much weight could be afforded to each lever to optimise economic gains from it.

The 2.4 percent/$34 billion number isn’t particularly new.

Accenture Australia’s digital strategy lead John Cassidy cited the same growth target last year in an opinion column published by the ABC.

PwC also released 2014 research that pitched a $37 billion increase in Australia’s GDP – driven by innovation and the digital economy – albeit with a longer lead time through to 2024.

Pulling the triggers

Unlike other countries that form the basis of the new Accenture-Oxford report, Australia would need to pull basically all three digital “levers” – investing in accelerators, technology and skills – simultaneously to hit the 2.4 percent GDP growth target.

If anything, the modelling for Australia favours investment being prioritised towards digital accelerators, though not at the expense of anything else that drives the digital economy.

This is in stark contrast to the findings around other major economies, where Accenture believes clearly favouring one lever over another will result in optimal gains in GDP growth.

The big picture for Accenture, however, is for all of the world’s top economies to simultaneously pursue digital measures that contribute modest improvements to GDP.

It sees a “multiplier effect” occurring if this was to happen, amounting to some $2 trillion “of additional global economic output by 2020”.