Week of March 10, 2003
Snapshot from the Field
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Study: Finland Replaces U.S. as No. 1 in Information-Technology Readinessby JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
GENEVA, Switzerland Finland is the newly crowned global leader in growth-promoting "information-technology readiness," supplanting the United States, according to a new study released by the Geneva, Switzerland-based World Economic Forum (WEF at www.weforum.org).
The report, compiled by the WEF in conjunction with the World Bank's Information for Development Program (InfoDev at www.infodev.org) and France's Institut European d'Administration des Affaires (INSEAD at www.insead.org), ranked 82 global economies on their information-technology readiness vis-à-vis economic growth and productivity. The 335-page study utilized 64 measurement criteria, with major factors including the level of information technology use by citizens and businesses, Internet connectivity, and e-government advances.
Ranked No. 3 in the WEF's 2001-2002 study, Finland bumped the United States to No. 2 in the new report, entitled The Global Information Technology Report 2002-03: Readiness for the Networked World. Finland's jump up to No. 1 in the WEF's "Networked Readiness Index" was "boosted by the best performance [in the study] in terms of technology usage by its citizens, businesses and government," researchers explained.
U.S. Tops in 'Market Environment,' but Drops Overall Due to 'Connectivity and Diffusion' of ITThe United States, the study said, continues to offer "the best market environment for networked readiness," including its national market conditions, political and regulatory frameworks and enabling infrastructure.
But the overall U.S. score, researchers added, dropped to No. 2 "due to [its] less competitive performance in terms of connectivity and diffusion of information and communication technologies."
The 2002-03 Networked Readiness Index is the second such study published by the WEF, InfoDev and INSEAD. The purpose of the studies is to gauge nations' technological abilities to promote business growth, explained Soumitra Dutta, one of the report's authors.
"The fundamental role of information and communication technologies (ICT) has long been recognized as a catalyst for organizational transformation and change," said Dutta, a professor of e-business and information technology at INSEAD, one of the world's largest and most highly rated business schools. "As a consequence, gaining a better understanding of the economic and business impact of information and communications technology has been identified as a key research priority."
Europe Takes Six of Top 10 SlotsEurope was the continental leader in terms of total representation in the study's top 10 nations in network readiness.
In addition to No. 1 Finland, Europe's top 10 finishers included:
No. 4 Sweden, which also ranked No. 4 in the 2001-02 Networked Readiness Index;
No. 5 Iceland, which placed No. 2 in the previous '01-02 study;
No. 7 the United Kingdom, which moved up three slots from '01-02's No. 10 rank;
No. 8 Denmark, which dropped one slot from its No. 7 rank in the '01-02 Networked Readiness Index; and
No. 10 Germany, which made a substantial jump up from its No. 15 rank in the previous study.
North America had two of the continent's three nations finishing in the study's top 10. In addition to the United State's No. 2 rank, Canada came in at No. 6, a significant move up from its No. 12 finish in the 2001-02 Networked Readiness Index.
Singapore No. 3, Taiwan No. 9Asia had two nations in the top 10, with both greatly improving their standings from the previous study: No. 3 Singapore catapulted up from its previous No. 8 rank, while No. 9 Taiwan leapfrogged from its previous No. 17 rank. The study is aimed to move beyond mere measurement into national action, explained Bruno Lanvin, program manager for the World Bank's InfoDev. In addition to market conditions, political and regulatory frameworks, and infrastructure, the study, he noted, incorporates individual, business and government "readiness for ICT," as well as actual ICT use among those "major stakeholders."
Said Lanvin, "We need to go from anecdotes, which can illustrate, to experience, which can be shared, to knowledge, which can be disseminated, and then to strategies and actions, which can make a difference in the lives of people."
Mix of Measurements Push Rankings Up, DownThat mix of measurements ranging from anecdotes and regulations to usage and strategies was evident in the researchers' discussion of some of the individual rankings in the study. For example:
Singapore's move up from No. 8 to No. 3 was driven in part by the nation's No. 1 ranking "in terms of the readiness of its government to employ ICT in its internal processes and delivery of services," researchers said.
Germany, ranked No. 10 in overall networked readiness, "is the strongest of the 82 economies in terms of ICT usage by businesses," the study said.
Estonia was one of the study's surprises, finishing overall at No. 24. That placed the nation ahead of, for example, Spain (No. 25), Italy (No. 26) and Portugal (No. 32). Estonia's ranking was "boosted by superior ICT government readiness and usage," the study noted.
France, on the other hand, ranked No. 4 "in terms of availability of scientists and engineers" and No. 5 "in terms of capacity for innovation." But the nation's overall rank dropped to No. 19 on the basis of only finishing No. 54 "in terms of the ability of companies to use innovation to generate revenues," the study noted.
Brazil, in 29th place, was the highest-ranked Latin American nation in terms of networked readiness. Brazil's "high ratings in e-government" boosted its overall score.
Among the 82 rated nations, Haiti finished last. Haiti's Networked Readiness Index score of 2.07 was roughly one-third of Finland's No. 1 score of 5.92. Founded in 1971, the World Economic Forum is a nonprofit foundation connected to no political, partisan or national interests. The Forum has consultative status with the United Nations' Economic and Social Council.
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