Written by Léonard Mouny, State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation
Since 2002 the World Economic Forum, in partnership with INSEAD, publishes The Global Information Technology Report (GITR). Covering 148 countries, the report monitors ICT progresses, raising awareness about their implication for competitiveness and development. The 2014 edition features several essays about the opportunities and threats offered by big data, which analyze the changes that public and private organization will need to implement in order to be able to manage and benefit from new sources of data. In addition, detailed profiles for each country measuring their Networked Readiness Index (NRI) are also available.
The European Digital Ecosystem
The Networked Readiness Index is based on 54 indicators divided into 10 pillars: Political and regulatory environment, Business and innovation environment, Infrastructure and digital content, Affordability, Skills, Individual usage, Business usage, Government usage, Economic impacts, and finally Social impacts. According to the ranking elaborated by the report, Europe appears as the best region worldwide as it has been the first to develop a digital ecosystem in order to improve its innovation and competitiveness. As a result, several European countries lead the NRI rankings, with six European economies—Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—in the top 10. Furthermore, the ICT’s impacts in Europe have been optimized by the European Commission through its Digital Agenda as one of the seven flagship initiatives under its growth strategy Europe 2020. However, the report also highlights the gap between Northwestern European economies and the rest of the Member States that is reflected in all of the 10 pillars of the NRI; while some countries should strengthen their ICT infrastructures, the gap in ICT usage across countries is bigger for businesses and narrower across governments, the gap in terms of social and especially economic impacts is the widest of the four subindexes, and this illustrates the new nature of the digital divide in Europe.
Within Europe, Switzerland conserves its 6th rank, benefitting from a “very good, albeit expensive (66th) ICT infrastructure (9th) and a good educational system that provides the necessary skills to create a knowledge-based, technology-rich economy. Those assets, coupled with a stable political and regulatory environment (9th) and excellent conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship (12th), have resulted in outstanding uptake and use of ICTs by businesses (1st) in all their transactions and in their ability to foster innovation. In this process of digitization, the government appears to be lagging slightly behind (35th): government online services (32nd) continue to be relatively reduced compared with those of other countries of its economic and social level of development, which partially affects its overall social impacts (26th).”
The potential offered by Big Data
Through innovation in ICTs, the volume and velocity of generation of big data are unprecedented. And the ICT technologies have the capacity of organizations to capture and treat them. However, in order to benefit from the extraction of these values generation of or access to big data is not enough. As the report states: “Organizations, both public and private, need to decide how to acquire, treat, and interpret these data. This will frequently require new management philosophies and organizational structures capable of adapting and benefiting from the new market opportunities.” One should not forget to protect Privacy while supporting the development of bid data. As it can become a geopolitical or strategic concern or even threaten the national security. There is still need for development of measure to avoid these perils.”
If you’re interested in the topic and wish to learn more about the report or the ranking, you can download the report here.