The Economist has described data as being "to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change."
As the varying fortunes of oil-rich countries have shown, in order to prosper business and Government need to take full benefits of the opportunities it offers. Central to that is having a digital infrastructure fit for the opportunities ahead.
As this report shows, the growth and job creation of the Data Economy in the last few years is still leaving much potential untapped. This is not a small technical issue because data is so central to the modern economy. It reaches right across all sectors of the economy. Although data is concentrated in the information and communications technology sectors, in all the countries studies over half - and even up to two-thirds - of the value generated by data comes from other economic sectors.
Business leaders and Governments face the challenge of staying relevant and competitive in a time of major digital change. For most businesses, digital is now a critical part of their infrastructure - a key channel to market and a source of competitive advantage.
For Governments, the Data Economy brings the sort of high value jobs which can support growing living standards. This sector is highly productive. In the UK, for example, it accounts for just 3.3% of the workforce but delivers 4.2% of the country's economic output.
The data centre industry is at the heart of making the most of this. It can provide the secure, reliable and high-speed data services which enable business to prosper and economies to grow. These critical digital foundations are now as important a part of each country's infrastructure as roads or power stations.
We see this here at Digital Realty with our data centres in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands. We can provide the critical digital foundations which allow our customers to concentrate on what they do best - growing their businesses and serving their customers.