We're spending more time on the internet says a new report. Source: Shutterstock

We’re spending more time on the internet says a new report. Source: Shutterstock

The world will spend 1.2 billion years using the internet this year

GOING digital isn’t important for businesses, it’s critical. Data from a new report by We Are Social and Hootsuite clearly explains why the shift to digital has become something that cannot be ignored or delayed any longer.

To kick off the conversation, let’s pick out a few stats first —

  • Of the world’s total population of 7.676 billion people, 5.112 billion people have a mobile connection
  • There are 4.388 billion internet users in the world and 3.484 billion active social media users
  • Almost all of the active social media users access their accounts via mobile — 3.256 to be precise.

And while that’s interesting, things get really exciting when you compare and contrast those stats with the following:

  • The world’s total population grew 1.1 percent last year, by a total of 84 million
  • Unique mobile subscriptions, however, grew two percent, an increase of 100 million
  • Internet users, however, increased 9.1 percent to 367 million
  • Active social media users and mobile social media users increased nine percent and 10 percent, by 288 million and 297 million respectively
  • The world will spend 1.2 billion years using the internet this year.

And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll be surprised to know that the largest absolute growth in internet users came from India and China last year — where 97.885 and 50.666 million new users joined friends and colleagues in cyberspace.

Further, time spent on mobile grew 16 percent last year to equal 45 percent of total daily internet time.

The report pointed out that Google and Facebook were where people spent a lot of time but new platforms such as Twitch, TikTok, Kuaishou, and Douban are seeing impressive growth.

Now, the report does have a bunch of other stats on the growth of different social media platforms and ad spends and audiences — but the long and short of it is this: Digital is now. Digital is here.

Here’s how to make the most of these insights

You can’t ignore digital in today’s day and age. It’s something you’ll find tough to do, whether you cater to customers in North America, Europe, or Australia.

However, if you’re in Asia, digital shouldn’t be a threat to you. It should be an opportunity.

Chinese retail has shifted online in the past few years and the country has democratized various sectors in a way that not only empowers young businesses but also turbocharges the old.

Telecommunications company Jio and others in India have brought internet to millions of users — with the help of cheaper smartphones made in China — to radically transform how the country consumes content and makes buying decisions.

Hong Kong and Singapore have seen rapid growth in the e-commerce space in the past year, but more importantly, these two markets have grown smarter and better in terms of digital, creating more touchpoints for residents and businesses.

The reality is, this has been a long time coming, and businesses in Asia and the rest of the APAC must go full throttle on digital. Now.