In a global reckoning of nations’ information and communications technology (ICT) strengths, Canada may well round out the top 10 of 104, but the country has fared better in previous years.

In fact, Canada slipped four spots, from sixth to tenth, in the recently released World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2004-2005. Singapore was this year’s ICT leader, while last year’s leader, the U.S., slipped to fifth place.

The report ranks 104 economies and their positions by a network readiness index (NRI), which measures the degree to which a country can benefit from ICT investments. The NRI depends on various factors like a country’s regulatory and legal framework for technological development, as well as how many citizens and businesses use ICT.

IT investments are generally considered a prime factor in global competitiveness: buy more technology, become more competitive, said Lawrence Surtees, a communications industry analyst at IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto.

Corporate Canada is becoming aware of the link between IT investments and productivity improvements, especially as the nation’s rising dollar puts pressure on businesses to be as efficient as possible if they want to maintain healthy margins on goods sold to the U.S. “That’s…the reason people are waking up” to the connection between IT and productivity, Surtees said. “That being said, the majority of companies have yet to embrace technology, or significantly make the link” between IT and productivity, he added.

“It is my personal belief that Canada is well positioned as one of the top ICT countries in the world,” said Bill St. Arnaud, senior director, advanced networks at the Canadian Network for Advanced Research, Industry and Education (CANARIE Inc.) in Ottawa. “But as with everything there is always room for improvement.”

Find out more about the Global Information Technology Report at the WEF’s Web site, www.weforum.org.

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