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Sweden ranks first in 2012 INSEAD-WEF Global Information Technology Report

Friday, April 6, 2012

Singapore #2, Vying to be #1

This is the third consecutive year Singapore has come in second in the Global Information Technology Report's benchmark Network Readiness Index. The nation-state has its eye on the number one spot - occupied for as many years by Sweden - so much so that Singapore's Infocom, Development Authority actually sent a delegation to Sweden last year to observe its best practices in ICT, and found that high broadband penetration in Sweden is a key component to that country's success. Broadband penetration levels in Singapore are around 80 percent. 

That revelation was made by James Kang, Assistant Chief Executive of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) at a press conference held Thursday, April 5, at INSEAD’s Asia campus in Singapore. Kang also acknowledged the usefulness of the GITR in helping Singapore benchmark itself against other leading economies in the world.  

Created in 1999, IDA serves as the sector regulator in Singapore tasked with developing initiatives to grow Singapore’s IT prowess. But as the sector continues to evolve rapidly, what’s required for Singapore to maintain its ranking? “Singapore can continue to maintain its high standards by constantly putting in efforts to upgrade ICT infrastructure and maintaining a world class educational system that specifically focuses on developing ICT related competences,’’ said Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director of eLab at INSEAD.  Lanvin credited Singapore on the superior quality of its math and science education. 

What will it to take for Singapore to reach the top spot? The ‘gap’ is innovation, says Lanvin.  Singapore needs to attract and manage the right kind of talent, he explains, and focus on improving the country’s ability to create new products and services, spawning intellectual property and patents, and generating new institutional models.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Top Ten Countries in « Networked Readiness” 2012

  1. Sweden
  2. Singapore
  3. Finland
  4. Denmark
  5. Switzerland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. USA
  9. Canada
  10. UK

What the Report Means

This year’s Global Information Technology Report incorporates new measurement tools to better portray the impact technology has on the global economy and on society. The most Important new metric is the “impact” dimension which looks at how individuals, businesses and governments use technology.

There are three key components to this impact dimension:

  • Infrastructure ( the level of hardware and software available)
  • Affordability (how easy is it to access technology?)
  • Skills (can people use the technology?)
These new metrics provide more profound insight into the Network Readiness Index which is the key output of the GITR.

The Nordic countries, North America and Switzerland are at the top of the ranking this year.

Key Take-Aways from the GITR 2012

The GITR is more than a list of 142 countries’ Networked Readiness; they also provide a view of how the industry of technology is developing in each country and taken together; this provides a global view of the world’s economic and social development.

This year’s report,  “Living in a Hyperconnected World,” reveals several key findings:

  •  Leveraging high-speed connectivity is crucial for competitiveness.
  •  Countries performing strongly in the Networked Readiness Index all have a “holistic” strategy to developing technology; there are no weaknesses in any of the key metrics
  •  Defining technology standards by the existence of technology infrastructure is not enough; components such as affordability and skills are crucial to success.
  • The “digital divide” still exists – not just in terms of infrastructure but also in terms of the skills necessary to make use of technology to better social and economic conditions. The main divide is between developed and non-developed countries (broadly, between the industrial northern hemisphere and the commodities-driven southern hemisphere); however, within regions thee are also significant divides: within Asia Singapore is in the #2 position globally, while other Southeast Asian countries are at the bottom of the NRI list.
Correcting these differences so that skills and affordability/access are present along with infrastructure is one of the challenges facing the hyperconnected world today.

Notes from Stockholm on GITR

One reason the Nordic countries fare so well in the Global information Technology Index rankings is tax deductions for buying computers. According to Erik Kruse, strategic marketing manager at Ericsson, healthy competition between such global (Nordic) firms as Ericsson and Nokia create attractive pricing.

Freenasp Mobedjina, strategic manager of broadband services at TeliaSonera, says that the only way for a mature economy to create productivity is through technology – connecting people so they can work together.

All the Nordic countries placed in the top 10 of the GITR’s Network readiness Index, with Sweden in the number one position. The country’s minister for Information Technology and Energy, Anna-Karin Hatt, says Sweden has made a concerted effort to develop technology usage since the 1980’s (when, she adds, one of the country’s political leaders got into hot water for bringing a GSM phone back home from Hong Kong!) . Since that time, Sweden has entered a period of liberalization in technology and has fostered industrial competition.

#1 Sweden

In terms of the result, the top 10 of the NRI is made up exclusively of advanced economies. That group is dominated by the Nordics, with Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway featuring in the top 7, and Iceland coming in at a not-so-distant 15th place. All members of the top 10 are relatively close to each other, and they tend to do well across all pillars.

Sweden’s performance is remarkable in every aspect. The country leads four of the 10 pillars of the Network Readiness Index:

  • Infrastructure and digital content 
  • Individual usage 
  • Business usage 
  • Economic impact 
Sweden also appears in the top 10 of a further five pillars, while in
 the last one, skills, it ranks a very solid 12th.
Sweden has in place a virtuous circle. This conducive environment, combined with the highest degree of readiness and widespread use of ubiquitous technologies, maximizes the economic and social impacts of ICT, creating new business opportunities, fostering innovation, and reinforcing a knowledge-based economy.
In this near-perfect assessment, only a handful of indicators call for attention: the typical corporate tax rate is fairly high at 53 percent of profits (114th), and two indicators reveal the length of certain administrative procedures which contrasts with the otherwise extremely efficient institutional framework.
In addition, the government has room to improve its online presence and its degree of interaction with the population.

Re-engineering healthcare 
For the Stockholm County Council (SCC), Sweden’s second-largest health system, patient safety is a top priority. The SCC has implemented a text-mining system that lets medical staff automate a systemic medical review that sifts through both structured and unstructured data to review charts, search for specific triggers, or locate indicators of adverse events. 
Since its inception in January 2010, the program has spread across the country. Today regulators are planning to award bonuses based on patient safety quantified by these reviews. If the results at the SCC are duplicated countrywide, the system could slash annual healthcare injury costs in Sweden by SEK 2 billion and reduce deaths caused by injuries by up to 50 percent.

Western Europe

In Western Europe, Switzerland (#5), the Netherlands (#6), and the United Kingdom (#10) all rank in the top ten but five other advanced economies attain high positions, ranging from 16th to 23rd place. Overall, these countries exhibit fairly well developed conditions for ICT.

Switzerland places #5 on the NRI. The country features in the top 10 of six pillars, and comes in at
 4th place in the skills pillar. Switzerland boasts very high usage rates and is boosted by a high degree of readiness and a propitious environment. It ranks 6th on
 the individual usage pillar, owing to very high penetration rates of mobile telephony, computers, Internet, and broadband Internet. Furthermore, it places 2nd behind Sweden in the business usage pillar. ICT has a very significant impact on the economy (3rd), leading 
to new services, products, and business models and fostering innovation. Its impact on society however, seems to be less marked (25th), as is the modest engagement of its government in promoting and using ICT (35th). The country’s performance is also affected by the costliness of ICT (48th) even when adjusting for purchasing power differentials.

 #6 The Netherlands delivers a strong performance. The country earns excellent marks in terms of ICT usage (9th). In particular, the Netherlands boasts the world’s highest broadband Internet penetration rate with 40 subscriptions per 100 people, the second-highest percentage of computer ownership (92 percent of households), and third-highest percentage of individuals using the Internet (90.1 percent). The country’s best rank is achieved in the economic impacts pillar (4th) thanks to the high share of knowledge-intensive jobs in the economy, the third highest in the world—and the country’s knack for innovation with the fifth-highest ratio of ICT-related patent applications per capita. The affordability pillar represents the only real weakness in its assessment (47th).

Germany, at #16 achieves fairly good economic impacts (13th) thanks to a high level of ICT-related innovations and a robust innovation system led by the business community (6th). The country’s well-developed ICT infrastructure (14th) and its high-quality educational system (17th) provides the vast majority of the population with the required skills to effectively use ICT (20th), resulting in high levels of ICT usage by individuals (14th). Further improvements could be achieved by rendering access to ICT, especially fixed broadband, more affordable (38th); also the government should put more emphasis on the importance of ICT for the future economic and social development of the country (47th). With a very similar profile, Austria arrives #19. Its very good ICT infrastructure development (12th), including access to digital content (4th) and that almost the entire population has the basic skills to utilize and access ICT (24th), result in very good penetration rates by individuals (17th) and the business community (11th). Moreover, the successful integration of ICT in a well-performing innovation system results in positive economic impacts (19th) in terms of innovation and focus on knowledge-intensive activities. On a less positive note, the high tax rate (115th) and the cumbersome procedures to open new businesses (97th) can hinder entrepreneurship and new ICT-based business opportunities.

#21 Luxembourg and #22 Belgium present slightly different pictures in terms of ICT development. Although both countries benefit from a fairly
well-developed ICT infrastructure, Belgium benefits from a better-performing and more robust innovation and educational system allowing the country to obtain better economic impacts and higher innovation rates. On the other hand, Luxembourg has more affordable access to ICT and a more entrepreneurial-prone environment with lower taxes.

France #23, achieves a harmonious uptake of ICT by all agents in society, producing good economic results (15th) in terms of developing innovative products and services (6th) and granting a wide access to basic services (18th). Despite the high cost of mobile cellular rates (121st), ICT infrastructure is fairly well developed and the educational system has allowed the population to acquire a skill base to use ICT. In order to further boost entrepreneurship and innovation via the creation and development of new technology-based companies, the high corporate tax rate (127th) and the insufficient development of venture capital (36th) are areas that may require further attention.

ITC Investment in France As part of their investment in ICT convergence, governments can lead the development of advanced networks or create an open-access infrastructure to attract private investment. By 2008, 65 percent of households in France had broadband service, and multiple service providers had benefited from the unbundling of the incumbent France Telecom network. Now national and local governments are investing in the rollout of open-access fiber networks that private service providers will pay to use. Included in this plan are opening sewers and conduits to allow competitive service providers to lay their fiber optic cables within already-existing networks. According to one estimate, this will reduce costs of network deployment by up to 60 percent.