The Economic Intelligence Unit and IBM have released their 2005 E-readiness Rankings, a report which assesses various nations’ and regions’ abilities to“promote and support digital business and information and communications technology (ICT) services.” The ranking system in and of itself, as well as the notion that e-practices will evolve along some known continuum (at one point referred to as an “e-readiness evolution ladder”), is problematic as far as I’m concerned. But there’s undeniable value in trying to create a global picture of the rapid changes around us.
In e-readiness, the distance separating the best from the rest has declined. In other words, the digital divide is narrowing.
North Asian leaders stole a jump on other OECD countries with a rapid acceleration of broadband adoption BUT other criteria beyond broadband–such as innovation, information security and
governments’ commitment to digital development — have emerged as more
telling differentiators. As developing nations “catch up” to developed in terms of mobile penetration and data speed, analysts are trying to find other ways to define leadership in ICT. However, the emerging differentiators–“innovation, information security, and government’s commitment to digital development”–are pretty hazy. Who decides what counts as innovation, and won’t it look different in China than it would in, say, Denmark (the top-ranked country)?
China’s e-readiness ranking is very low. Out of 65 countries surveyed, it is 54th, although Hong Kong is tied for 6th, Singapore is 11th, and Taiwan is 22nd. The mainland has slipped a few slots (as has India) because ICT investment and revenue are only a tiny fraction of the overall economy.