Near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, an economic downturn swept the globe. Now referred to as the Great Recession, it began at various times in different countries, but according to the OECD, out of 71 countries with available quarterly GDP data, only 11 avoided the decline. Most countries have since begun to recover, but there is some debate about whether or not it has entirely passed. In Europe specifically, several countries continued to suffer subsequent recession due to the European debt crisis, in which they could not bail out banks or repay government debt without help from a third party. Greece was perhaps the most publicized example, facing bankruptcy and receiving multiple bail-outs.
On The Mend:
Fortunately, whether the recession has completely ended or not, the economy in Europe appears to be on the mend. Many industries have experience hockey-stick growth in recent years. For instance, Inc.com reports that between 2011 and 2014, the energy and engineering industries have grown 456.3% and 345%, respectively. In 2014, the total revenue in the energy industry was an impressive $9.7 billion. In fact, the European economy is doing so well that in 2015, Inc.com, which has traditionally compiled a list of the fastest-growing companies in the United States exclusively, branched out to analyze Europe’s companies for the first time.
One factor contributing to Europe’s economic development is their use of the Cloud. In a study done by Aberdeen in 2013, researchers found that on average, European companies had been using Cloud technology for 3.5 years, whereas their North American counterparts had only been using the Cloud for 2.6 years. With almost an entire year’s head-start, as of 2013, Europe was also using the Cloud more widely for various services. They surpassed North America’s usage of the Cloud in SaaS (Software as a Service) applications, Cloud storage, IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), and hybrid Cloud solutions, whereas North America led only in Cloud recovery services. Still, a Eurostat study showed that only 19% of European enterprises were using Cloud technology as of 2014, mostly due to a lack of knowledge regarding the Cloud or the risk of a security breach. As education about Cloud services spreads and security measures increase, it follows that more companies will adopt Cloud technology.
It is interesting to note that Eurostat observed that information and communication industries use the Cloud most prominently at 45%, while Inc.com found that the telecommunications industry experienced economic growth at 392.8% between 2011 and 2014, second only to the energy industry. It stands to reason that the two factors could be interrelated. Indeed, companies that adopt Cloud technology, especially for information management and business process management, often find that they are more productive and therefore more profitable.
The manufacturing industry, for example, increased its output by 1.7% in 2014 and 1.2% in 2015, with a projected 1.1% for 2016, according to Orgalime, the European Engineering Industries Association. While the industry is growing, its rate of growth is decreasing. Adrian Harris, Orgalime’s Director General, has urged the manufacturing industry to embrace modern technological developments, explaining that digitalization allows for companies to grow more rapidly, increasing “productivity, resource efficiency, growth and therefore employment.”
Oil and Gas Industries:
The same advice would likely give a boost to the oil and gas industries, which are not growing as rapidly as they did before the recession. An article in Hydrocarbon Engineering magazine observed that the change is due in part to a movement towards alternative forms of energy. In addition to the renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, that are becoming more widespread, coal is currently less expensive than gas and oil, and many European power plants with the capability of burning coal have made the switch in order to save money. As a result, between 2008 and 2012, 16 refineries were closed in Europe. Although the oil and gas industries are now on the upswing, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that between 2013 and 2018, gas consumption would only increase 12 billion m3, a level lower than before the recession.
The Cloud technology, which has been so revolutionary in Europe, could be instrumental in the economic development of both the manufacturing and oil and gas industries. Specifically, document management software, or DMS, from a trusted provider like eFileCabinet would significantly help with information management and business process management. Implementing DMS involves digitizing all the company’s documents, scanning, and saving those documents that are currently paper copies. The documents would then be available in a central data storage system, whether hosted in the Cloud or even on premises, allowing each employee the access they need to perform their duties. Document changes can be saved across the entire system, digitally signed, and emailed or securely shared, all from the same eFileCabinet application, seamlessly cutting out many manual office processes that take up time and reduce productivity. With this increased efficiency, Europe could accelerate its economic recovery, leaving the Great Recession behind for good.