We live in a digital world.

Digital technologies are advancing at a rapid pace, connecting people around the world and creating new and exciting opportunities.

More than any time in human history, people have greater access to knowledge, services and resources as a result of technological advancements. The impact of automation, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is felt almost everywhere, in all countries, industries, and everyday life.

“However, while the impact of digitization is widespread, the benefits it yields are distributed unevenly,” says Tae Yoo, Cisco’s senior VP of Corporate Affairs. “It is important to understand a country’s digital readiness to help create a more inclusive future for all.”

Yoo wrote in the company’s Global Digital Readiness Index report measuring the digital readiness of 141 countries across seven components. The Index has been created to help nations understand how well-positioned they are to take advantage of the benefits of digitization.

Three stages of digital readiness emerged based on the findings: Activate, the lowest stage of digital readiness; Accelerate, the middle stage; and Amplify, the highest stage of digital readiness.

The factors that impact a country’s digital readiness differ depending on which of the three stages it falls.

For example, those countries in the Activate stage would primarily benefit from improvements in Basic Needs and Human Capital Development. The report showed that while countries in the Amplify stage lead in digital readiness, there is still plenty of room for advancement. These Amplify countries universally scored well for Basic Needs, including access to safe drinking water and electricity, and Ease of Doing Business, but they need to continue investing in these components to retain their position. However the significant variation in terms of Business and Government Investment was identified, with many countries in a position to benefit from improvement in this area.

The report also showed that all countries could benefit from additional investment in technology infrastructure, such as access to broadband, secure internet servers, and more.

South Africa is ranked in the Accelerate stage, meaning that the country has a significant opportunity to accelerate its digital readiness.

A country’s digital readiness score broadly mirrored its overall economic development, with countries in the earliest Activate stage primarily found in Africa, while those in the Accelerate stage could be found all over the world, especially in emerging economies. Countries in the Amplify stage generally represented developed economies in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

The report states that creating a digitally ready society requires a holistic approach across multiple components, from meeting a citizen’s basic needs and improving their education to creating a thriving business and start-up environment and investing in advanced technology infrastructure.

“Critical amongst these is the need for a vibrant, creative, and technologically sophisticated workforce to provide both the consumers and the creators of the technological innovations that can take a nation forward” reads the report.

“The value of being a digitally ready nation is immediately reflected in the strong correlation that leading nations show against other indicators such as GDP per capita and environmental outcomes.”

“Technology has the potential to be the single greatest catalyst for economic and social progress,” said Yoo.

“In every corner of the world, digital technology is helping us become more connected to each other and the organizations upon which we rely. It opens markets, creates jobs, and better connects citizens and customers. Our hope is that through Cisco’s Global Digital Readiness Index, we can partner with private and public sectors to evaluate how investments in the basic underpinnings of a digital society can serve to raise the quality of life for all citizens around the world.”

Key Findings and Rankings:

  • Of the top-10 largest economies in the world by total GDP, only the U.S. ranked in the top-10 for Digital Readiness at #3. However, readiness varies across the country which is also true for many countries.
  • Singapore took the top ranking with a strong performance in all seven components, including the top score in Human Capital and Business and Government Investment.
  • Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland, and Singapore are the top five countries for Technology Infrastructure.
  • The U.S., Canada, Luxembourg, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates are the top five countries for Technology Adoption.
  • Japan, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and Iceland are the top five countries for Basic Needs.
  • Singapore, Iceland, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Kazakhstan are the top-five countries for Human Capital.
  • Luxembourg ranked the highest in Europe at #2 overall, Israel ranked the highest in the Middle East at #21, and Botswana ranked the highest on mainland Africa at #76.
  • Singapore ranked the highest in Southeast Asia at #1, South Korea ranked the highest in East Asia at #8, and Australia ranked the highest in Asia-Pacific at #12.
  • The U.S. took the top ranking for North America at #3, Chile took the top spot for South America at #34, and Costa Rica took the top spot for Central America at #47.

“At Cisco, we believe it is important to contribute research to help the continuing dialogue on technology’s future impact,” Yoo added. “We hope to serve in partnership to bridge the digital divide and fostering a more inclusive future where all citizens can participate and thrive.”

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