Canada less e-ready than ever

Canada might want to consider itself lucky for coming in at No. 13 on the Economist Intelligence Unit/IBM 2007 global e-readiness ranking.

Denmark was followed by the U.S. and Sweden, which were tied for second place. Just a few years ago Canada ranked sixth.

Canada, the study says, didn’t do as well this year because of a slightly lower social and cultural environment score, and a lower score for government policy and vision than other developed-market peers.

And while the decline is also due to methodology changes this year, the introduction of new categories and gains by less advanced countries, Canada clearly needs to improve in the innovation arena, said Matthew Ivis, governmental programs executive at IBM Canada.

The country scored only four out of 10 on innovation. Although it got 8s and 9s on other metrics in the social and environmental category, the innovation ranking brought down the overall average for the social and cultural environment section to 7.2 out of 10.

Despite its low scores, the study predicted that Canada will have one of the most attractive business environments in the world within the next five years due to political stability and support for foreign investment, private enterprise and competition. Still, the country needs to leverage its strengths more by applying technology to the country’s most pressing social and economic problems, said Ivis.

There are also many opportunities related to the application of technology in the energy and environmental industries, as well as in government to continue modernization, he said. That’s where innovation comes in: it’s not so much the invention of new technology as the application of that technology in creative new ways to solve existing problems, he said.

Canada needs to focus more on developing a skilled, multi-disciplinary workforce that can apply this technology across different sectors, he said. “Most IT people aren’t in the IT sector, they’re in other sectors applying the technology to become more innovative and efficient and productive.”

Canada’s ranking was also affected by the elimination of fixed-line telephones and a concentration on mobile penetration.

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