Release of the 2013 Global Information Technology Report: INSEAD global technology report highlights on-going digital divide and economic implications

Annual IT study with the World Economic Forum surveys 'networked readiness' in 144 economies; reveals most developing nations failing to close ICT competitiveness gap

(PresseBox) ( Abu Dhabi (UAE), Fontainebleau (France), Singapore, )
INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Economic Forum (WEF), today released the 12th annual Global Information Technology Report (GITR) with the support of Booz & Company and CISCO. The new study focuses on "Growth and Jobs in a hyper connected World".

The report assesses the digital ecosystems of 144 developed and developing countries - accounting for more than 98 per cent of the world's GDP. By ranking each nation using the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), the study examines how these markets leverage advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) to drive economic productivity and social development.

GITR analyses various factors, including network infrastructure, affordability, and related "knowledge" skills, to determine which nations are moving ahead, stagnating, or falling behind with respect to the digital tools crucial to competitiveness. It takes into account numerous factors, including a country's market and regulatory framework in support of ICT uptake.

Researchers found that policies in some developing economies are failing to capitalise on ICT investment, while Europe also is faced with ICT challenges that threaten its competitiveness, innovation and job-creation capabilities.

"Our 2013 study reveals significant disparities and persistence in the 'digital divide' separating top performers and those still struggling to close the ICT and skills gaps," said Bruno Lanvin, GITR co-editor and Executive Director of INSEAD European Competitiveness Initiative (IECI). "Our analysis shows how matching investments in ICT with investment in skills and innovation can help economies cross a threshold, beyond which return on investment increases significantly."

The report's key findings include:

- Finland, Singapore and Sweden lead the NRI;

- To re-establish its competitiveness, the European Union must invest in a major upgrade to its fixed and mobile telecommunication network, a cost estimated at €250 to €320 billion. Failure to do so risks losing telecommunications leadership to the U.S. and Asia, where 4G mobile subscriptions already far outpace those in Europe;

- Most developing economies are failing to create the conditions needed to close the ICT-related competiveness gap against advanced economies;

- BRIC economies must address weaknesses in their digital ecosystems to ensure sustained productivity gains and future growth;

- Despite progress, Latin America and the Caribbean still face connectivity challenges;

- More apparent is the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa, where ICT usage remains very low, even as nations there continue to build ICT infrastructure;

- In the Middle East and North Africa, ICT investment and use is sharply divided, with Israel and several Gulf Cooperation Council states dramatically increasing ICT investment and performance, while other regional nations have faltered;

- "Big Data" is a new asset class with potential to revitalise the global economy and strengthen social cohesion. Broadband (especially mobile broadband) is the foundation to unlock this potential.

Dominating this year's NRI are two groups: Northern European economies and the so-called Asian Tigers. The top 10 best-performing nations, in order, are: Finland, Singapore, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Denmark, United States, and Taiwan, China. Researchers also found significant gaps among countries in Europe, notably disparities between better-prepared nations in the north and their less-prepared counterparts in the south.

See the full list here:

In addition, the report provides several sub-indexes that rank factors such as political, regulatory and business environments, infrastructure and digital content affordability, digital skills, and ICT usage.

The Global Information Technology Report harnessed the thought leadership of scholars in INSEAD's e-Lab. Since the GITR began in 2002, INSEAD has been a strategic partner providing insights and analysis to understand the evolving global business environment. Bruno Lanvin said this research offers policymakers and their partners in business and academia valuable insights.

"These data help us to understand critical ICT changes in economies worldwide and then to see how these shifts relate to overall competitiveness," said Lanvin, noting that the global landscape has transformed over the last 12 years, since INSEAD and the World Economic Forum published the first Global Information Technology Report. "Both emerging and developed economies are focusing on innovation and are competing globally for talent and market share. ICT is at the heart of this new reality."

Lanvin pointed out that, over the last decade, business models have been redefined, workplaces redesigned and whole areas of society-from education to health-are being rethought as a result of technological shifts. The Global Information Technology Report seeks to measure and assess important components driving these changes. Its Networked Readiness Index provides decision makers with a useful conceptual framework to evaluate the impact of ICTs at a global level and to benchmark the ICT readiness and usage of their economies.

A special focus in this year's report is networked readiness for social and economic growth, with additional consideration of how ICT is transforming mobile services, health information, and telecommunications. The 2013 GITR also includes case studies of how Colombia and Rwanda are adapting to leverage ICT for sustainable advantage. In Colombia, policymakers are working to address four main obstacles to widespread Internet use-including infrastructure, services and applications. Leaders there are trying to create greater access to lower-priced services while developing computing tools and more digital content. Meanwhile, spurred by its limited natural resources, Rwanda continues to make progress to transform its economy through ICT tools, pursuing a plan called Vision 2020, first outlined in 2000.

The Global Information Technology Report is the result of a long-standing partnership between the World Economic Forum and INSEAD.

The NRI uses a combination of data from publicly available sources and the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the Forum in collaboration with Partner institutes, a network of 167 leading research institutes and business organisations. This survey of more than 15,000 executives provides insight into areas critical for networked readiness.
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