Global Information Technology Report: living in a hyperconnected world

Monday, 9 April 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SINGAPORE: INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Economic Forum released the 11th annual 2012 Global Information Technology Report. The report examines the networked readiness of 142 developed and developing countries worldwide - accounting for over 98 percent of the world’s GDP.  The index measures the correlation between how these markets leverage advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) to drive economic productivity and social development.

In this year’s Networked Readiness Index ranking (NRI), four Nordic countries are the most successful at leveraging ICT in their competitiveness strategies with Sweden topping the list at number one. Singapore is in the number two position and the rest of the top ten are: Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“Over the past ten years, the information and communication technology industry has changed dramatically and its effects are increasingly transforming our economies and societies,” said INSEAD Roland Berger Professor of Business and Technology and co-editor of the report Soumitra Dutta. “Echoing the rapid changes and consequences of living in a hyperconnected world, the framework we use to monitor, measure, and benchmark the deployment and impacts of ICT has evolved,” Dutta added.  “We have introduced a new set of metrics that assess not only the availability of technology, but also the ways in which economies put that technology to greater use to improve business innovation, governance, citizens’ political participation and social cohesion. This year’s report offers an enhanced view of how technology is incorporated into the fabric of each country.”

The 2012 Networked Readiness Index uses 53 indicators to compute the impact of ICT on public policy. Changes have been made to the indicators to adapt the methodology to the pace of change in the technology sector and its subsequent impact on society. This year’s GITR report therefore takes note of items such as mobile broadband subscriptions, while lessening the importance of previously significant indicators such as fixed-line penetration. The report also contains detailed country profiles for the 142 economies featured in the study, providing a snapshot of each economy’s level of ICT uptake and the economic and social impact.

“Although many would consider that the phrase ‘digital divide’ is passé, GITR data shows that it remains a stubborn reality: in spite of the spectacular global spread of mobile telephony, poorer countries (especially in Africa) still suffer from a lack of infrastructure and connectivity. The advent of accelerating transformations in the way we generate, transmit, store, share and use data bears both the promise of new opportunities to bridge that digital divide and the threat of deeper ones in areas such as broadband, cloud computing, social media or big data,” warned INSEAD eLab Executive Director Bruno Lanvin adding, “These are issues that countries need to be aware of and for which appropriate policies will need to be designed as a matter of urgency.”

Living in a hyperconnected world explores the causes and consequences of living in an environment where the internet is accessible and immediate; people and businesses can communicate instantly and machines are interconnected, creating opportunities and at the same time, new challenges. Mastering and leveraging the transformational impact on the economy, society, environment and healthcare are crucial for boosting economic competitiveness and well-being.

“Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, citizens and the state and we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in all areas of the economy and society,” said World Economic Forum Chief Business Officer Robert Greenhill. “Traditional organisations and industry infrastructures are facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regulation as regulators will have to mediate the blurring lines between sectors and industries and will be obliged to oversee more facets in a pervasive way,” he added.

“We believe that in an emerging era of hyperconnectivity, ICT will enable a bold new chapter that is entwined with the sustained growth of the global economy,” said Huawei Technologies Chairwoman of the Board Sun Yafang, one of the sponsors of the report. “The importance of ICT goes beyond its role as a driver of future economic growth as smart devices and cloud services continue to become a greater part of our daily lives. By strategically integrating ICT as part of overall economic growth plans, countries are in a better position to capitalise on the hyperconnected global economy and increase competitiveness on a global scale.”

“Digital applications offer unprecedented potential for economic, social and political development,” said Karim Sabbagh, Senior Partner and Global Head of Communication, Media and Technology Practice at Booz & Company, a report partner. “Policy-makers need to be aware of both growth and transformational opportunities, and how they can craft policies that promote ubiquitous digitisation in a timely manner. They must facilitate the creation of new models enabled by digitisation at a faster pace than the old models are breaking down,” he added.

A special focus in this year’s report are two policy case studies on Azerbaijan and Mauritius and their plans to fully leverage the potential benefits of ICT to meet their socio-economic goals. Both economies have widely recognised the role ICT can play in transforming their economy and society. Azerbaijan with its position as an oil and gas centre aims to continue to integrate the ICT sector and spread its effects to play a crucial role in its development policy.  

The foresightedness of the Government of Mauritius in adopting and integrating ICT as a strong pillar of the Mauritian economy has already resulted in double-digit growth. The report points to the challenges and tremendous growth potential for both economies to develop ICT as one of the major pillars of economic development and articulates the crucial strategies necessary to meet them.


The report reveals that while the United States’ position has declined to number eight, the country delivers strong overall performance with an environment that is generally conducive to leveraging ICT successfully; however, declining skills and political and regulatory frameworks present some impediments, while regulation and consumer pricing remains burdensome.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries stand out as a fairly homogenous and high performing group (especially Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE, close to one another in the rankings).

While most of the governments have embraced ambitious digital strategies coupled with pro-business reforms and massive infrastructure developments as part of their efforts to attract foreign investors and diversify their oil-dependent economies, the GCC economies would benefit further from expanding their overall skill base, especially eradicating adult illiteracy and increasing tertiary education.

Liberalising the ICT and telecommunications markets would help reduce the high costs of accessing the Internet and enabling wider diffusion and usage of ICT across the board.

Despite improvements in competitiveness, the BRIC countries still face important challenges to better adopt and leverage ICT. While China leads this group of large emerging economies, the country faces important challenges that must be met to more fully adopt and leverage ICT. China’s institutional framework and especially its business environment present a number of shortcomings that stifle entrepreneurship and innovation.

ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa is low, with most countries showing significant lag in connectivity due to insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, which remains too costly, and displaying poor skill levels that do not allow for an efficient use of the available technology. Even in those countries where ICT infrastructure has been improved, the ICT-driven impact on competitiveness and well-being trail behind, uncovering a pervasive digital divide.

The Global Information Technology Report is the result of a long-standing partnership between INSEAD and the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Global Competitiveness and Performance and the Industry Partnership Programme for Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries. With a record coverage of 142 economies worldwide, the report remains the most comprehensive and authoritative international assessment of the impact of ICT on competitiveness and the well-being of nations.

The presentation of the NRI rankings is augmented by contributions from academics and industry experts, exploring the drivers and consequences for individuals, businesses and governments of living in a hyperconnected world, including:

  • Convergence of ICT
  • Issues in a hyperconnected world, with a focus on the role of regulation
  • Network neutrality
  • Increasing importance of mobile broadband to empower individuals
  • Cost of broadband
  • Role of in-memory technology and analytics to harness the power of big data
  • Role of real-time analytics to make sense of big data
  • Value of digital traces for commercial strategy and public policy
  • The promise and perils of hyperconnectivity for organisations and societies
  • Maximising the impact of digitisation
  • Effect of technology in education