European countries and Singapore are utilizing IT better than Canada and the U.S., according to a study issued last week by the World Economic Forum

Canada drops to eleventh place in ability to utilize IT

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European countries and Singapore are utilizing IT better than Canada and the U.S., according to a study issued Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.

Denmark, for the first time, leads the “Networked Readiness Index” survey as the country that uses IT to maximize development and increase competitiveness. The U.S. fell to seventh in the rankings, after placing first in last year’s study. Denmark came in third last year after starting to rise in the list in 2003.

The Danish government’s use of electronic services, regulatory structure and telecommunications environment aided the country, according to the study. Conversely, the study attributed the U.S. slip to the “deterioration relative of the political and regulatory environment.”

The study delivered positive analysis on some aspects of the U.S. The survey noted that the U.S. education system helps the country maintain its lead in innovation and linked the nation’s robust IT sector to venture capital availability, a savvy financial market and the ability to start a business with ease.

Canada also slipped this year as indicated by its eleventh-place ranking, compared to sixth the previous year.

Still, Canada’s presence among the top countries in the past three years shows its investments in IT are bearing fruit.

Besides the ranking, there are other indications of this pay off. For instance, the city of Waterloo, Ont., placed in the top seven “intelligent communities” in the world this year, as chosen by the New York-based Intelligent Community Forum. Ranking was based on broadband infrastructure, knowledge workforce, digital inclusion, innovation and finance, marketing and leadership.

And Toronto, Ont., became the newest member of the Digital City Network (DCN), last month, to collaborate on building a global fibre-optic network that includes other metros such as Los Angeles, Singapore and Dublin.

Besides Denmark, other Nordic countries also fared well in the study. Sweden came in second place and Finland took fourth, advancing from the eighth and fifth spots, respectively, compared to their 2006 results. The 10th spot went to Norway, up from 13th place, while Iceland fell to eighth place from fourth.

Nordic countries have had a strong showing in the World Economic Forum survey since it was first conducted in 2001, with some of those nations cracking the top 10 each year. Several factors contributed to the Nordic nations’ presence in the annual survey, such as an emphasis on education, efficient governments and a willingness to use current technologies, according to the study.

The other European countries to make the top 10 are Switzerland (five), the Netherlands (six) and the U.K. (nine).

While Singapore placed third in this year’s survey, it fell one position from its previous place in last year’s summary. The Asia-Pacific region ranked high in the survey with Hong Kong (12), Taiwan (13), Japan (14), Australia (15) and Korea (19) making the top 20. China and India, hot spots in the global economy, placed lower in this year’s survey. China fell nine spots to 59 while India slipped to 44 from 40. The survey claimed that both countries have weak infrastructure that prevents them from maximizing IT, with China having low business and individual IT preparedness and use and India having low personal IT use.

The 122 countries polled were measured on their business, regulatory and infrastructure environments for IT, the readiness of business, government and people to use technology and the actual use of current technologies.

The study comes after U.S. politicians and business executives recently discussed the status of the nation’s innovation and competitiveness and how to improve in these areas. During separate congressional hearings, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett called for improved mathematics and science education in schools and additional government funding for research and development to maintain U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

Earlier this month a group of U.S. senators introduced a bill that aims to improve U.S. worker competitiveness by doubling the funding to an organization that supports U.S. scientific research and creating programs to help students learn mathematics.

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