Report Tracks Progress In Building Digital Economies

There are precious few countries on earth that aren’t trying to develop innovative, digital economies, but a recent report from Tufts University highlights the varying progress made towards that goal around the world.

For instance, Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Estonia (more here), Hong Kong, Japan, and Israel are identified as world leaders in digital development.

Digital progress

The research maps the digital development of 60 countries around the world.  The rankings are devised based on four key drivers (with 170 unique indicators across these categories):

  • Supply (or internet access and infrastructure)
  • Consumer demand for digital technologies
  • Institutional environment (government policies/laws and resources)
  • Innovation (investments into R&D and digital start-ups etc.)

“Adoption, the quality of digital infrastructure and institutions, and innovation collectively shape a country’s digital competitiveness, but governments also play a key role. The report also found that consumers’ trust in digital technologies correlates with digital competitiveness,” the authors say.

The report breaks countries down into four distinct categories:

  • Stand Out –Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Israel demonstrate high levels of digital development while continuing to lead in innovation and new growth.
  • Stall Out – Many developed countries such as in Western Europe, the Nordics, Australia and South Korea have a history of strong growth, but their momentum is slowing. Without further innovation, they are at risk of falling behind.
  • Break Out – Though still at relatively lower absolute levels of digital advancement, these countries demonstrate the fastest momentum, are poised for growth and are attractive to investors. China, Kenya, Russia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, Chile and Mexico exhibit this breakout potential.
  • Watch Out – Countries such as South Africa, Peru, Egypt, Greece and Pakistan face significant challenges, constrained both by low levels of digital advancement and a slow pace of growth.

“We all know technology can do more to improve economies and make our lives better, but growth is only achievable if everyone has confidence in the developing ecosystem,” the authors say. “In our pursuit of a truly connected world, trust and security are critical to successful digital development.”

Whilst the report outlines specific recommendations for each country, there are also a number of broad takeaways that seem common across economies.

Check out the video below to learn more about the report.

How to boost your digital economy

  1. Identify what drives digital momentum – both developed and developing economies alike need to emphasize the different ways that they can spur growth, whether that’s through innovation or more robust institutions.
  2. Use public policy to drive your digital economy – with a number of all too evident examples, from Brexit to the US-China trade disputes.
  3. Involve government in small country growth – they can play a crucial role as early adopters and in assembling the appropriate players in the ecosystem
  4. Invest in mobile Internet – especially for less digitally advanced countries, as it will allow them to leap a generation.
  5. Build trust – as economies evolve digitally, trust can play a crucial role in spurring growth that may have slowed.


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