Previous Leaders Lose Ground in the Economist Intelligence Unit's 2008 e-Readiness Rankings


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DUBLIN, IRELAND - 09 Apr 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) -- The 2008 annual e-readiness ranking of the world's largest economies, using a model developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit in co-operation with the IBM Institute for Business Value, reveals today that:

E-readiness continues to advance across the globe. Indeed, the average e-readiness score of the 70 countries in this year's rankings rose to 6.39 (on a 1-10 scale), up from 6.24 in 2007. This overall progress, however, masks some backtracking among a handful of countries, notably within the top ten. After four consecutive years as the world's most e-ready country, Denmark has fallen four places, as has Switzerland. Similarly, Finland has dropped three places and has been supplanted in the top 10 by Austria. The United States is now the global e-readiness leader, with a score of 8.95, followed closely by Hong Kong, which has advanced two places.

Maintaining the momentum of digital development is clearly quite tough. The aforementioned European ICT leaders have been unable, in some areas, to sustain the heady pace of development they had previously established. Both Finland and Denmark, for instance, were unable to maintain previous ICT spending levels or to improve upon (albeit impressive) public and corporate access to digital channels. By contrast, those countries that have advanced in the top 10 -- the US, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and Australia -- have largely done so on the back of improvements in connectivity -- both in fixed and wireless broadband access, as well as in their innovation environments.

"The world's most developed digital economies -- and many less developed ones -- continue to record impressive gains in broadening access to ICT and making digital services available to the population," says Robin Bew, Editorial Director of the Economist Intelligence Unit. "It is hard work to maintain this progress, however, and even the leaders have much to do to translate these gains into real economic and social benefits."

The gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" in our rankings narrowed again in 2008, a hopeful indication of a contraction in the digital divide between developed and developing countries. However, the narrowing of this gap was considerably less than in previous years. The least e-ready countries have registered no upward movement in their rankings (although most have improved their scores), partly because their business environments have deteriorated or improved only slightly. Connectivity improvements in some developing countries, particularly in Latin America, are also alarmingly slow. Other lower ranked countries, however, such as Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Egypt, have moved upwards thanks mainly to faster progress in connectivity.

"In our research we have identified three tiers of countries within the e-readiness rankings: established leaders, rapid adopters and late entrants," says Peter Korsten, Global Leader of the IBM Institute for Business Value. "These groups have remained relatively constant, but the most impressive improvements have been registered by the 'late entrants,' as exemplified by countries such as Thailand, Peru, and Romania, which have risen in the rankings by up to 17 places between 2001 and 2008."

Since 2000, the Economist Intelligence Unit has published an annual e-readiness ranking of the world's largest economies, using a model developed in co-operation with the IBM Institute for Business Value. A country's "e-readiness" is a measure of its e-business environment, a collection of factors that indicate how amenable a market is to Internet-based opportunities. Increasingly, it is also about how individuals and businesses consume digital goods and services.

Our analysis in 2008 identifies several guiding principles that policymakers can use to evaluate the opportunities for advancing e-readiness in their countries:

Economist Intelligence Unit e-readiness rankings 2008

2008 2008
e-readiness e-readiness
rank (of 70) 2007 rank Country score (of 10) 2007 score

1 2 United States 8.95 8.85
2 4 Hong Kong 8.91 8.72
3 3 Sweden 8.85 8.85
4 9 Australia 8.83 8.46
5 1 Denmark 8.83 8.88
6 6 Singapore 8.74 8.60
7 8 Netherlands 8.74 8.50
8 7 United Kingdom 8.68 8.59
9 5 Switzerland 8.67 8.61
10 11 Austria 8.63 8.39
11 12 Norway 8.60 8.35
12 13 Canada 8.49 8.30
13 10 Finland 8.42 8.43
14 19 Germany 8.39 8.00
15 16 South Korea 8.34 8.08
16 14 New Zealand 8.28 8.19
17 15 Bermuda 8.22 8.15
18 18 Japan 8.08 8.01
19 17 Taiwan 8.05 8.05
20 20 Belgium 8.04 7.90
21 21 Ireland 8.03 7.86
22 22 France 7.92 7.77
23 24 Malta 7.78 7.56
24 23 Israel 7.61 7.58
25 25 Italy 7.55 7.45
26 26 Spain 7.46 7.29
27 27 Portugal 7.38 7.14
28 28 Estonia 7.10 6.84
29 29 Slovenia 6.93 6.66
30 32 Greece 6.72 6.31
31 31 Czech Republic 6.68 6.32
32 30 Chile 6.57 6.47
33 34 Hungary 6.30 6.16
34 36 Malaysia 6.16 5.97
35 33 United Arab Emirates 6.09 6.22
36 39 Slovakia 6.06 5.84
37 37 Latvia 6.03 5.88
38 41 Lithuania 6.03 5.78
39 35 South Africa 5.95 6.10
40 38 Mexico 5.88 5.86
41 40 Poland 5.83 5.80
42 43 Brazil 5.65 5.45
43 42 Turkey 5.64 5.61
44 44 Argentina 5.56 5.40
45 45 Romania 5.46 5.32
46 47 Saudi Arabia 5.23 5.05
47 49 Thailand 5.22 4.91
48 48 Bulgaria 5.19 5.01
49 46 Jamaica 5.17 5.05
50 -- Trinidad & Tobago* 5.07 --
51 51 Peru 5.07 4.83
52 50 Venezuela 5.06 4.89
53 52 Jordan 5.03 4.77
54 54 India 4.96 4.66
55 55 Philippines 4.90 4.66
56 56 China 4.85 4.43
57 58 Egypt 4.81 4.26
58 53 Colombia 4.71 4.69
59 57 Russia 4.42 4.27
60 61 Sri Lanka 4.35 3.93
61 60 Ukraine 4.31 4.02
62 62 Nigeria 4.25 3.92
63 59 Ecuador 4.17 4.12
64 63 Pakistan 4.10 3.79
65 65 Vietnam 4.03 3.73
66 64 Kazakhstan 3.89 3.78
67 66 Algeria 3.61 3.63
68 67 Indonesia 3.59 3.39
69 68 Azerbaijan 3.29 3.26
70 69 Iran 3.18 3.08

* New to the annual rankings in 2008.
Note: A four-decimal score is used to determine each country's rank.
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2008.

Methodology: How the scores were derived
Nearly 100 quantitative and qualitative criteria, organised into six distinct categories, feed into the e-readiness rankings. The six categories (and their weight in the model) are connectivity and technology infrastructure (20%); business environment (15%; the nine criteria used here summarise the 70 indicators covered by the Economist Intelligence Unit's business environment rankings); social and cultural environment (15%); legal and policy environment (10%); government policy and vision (15%); and consumer and business adoption (25%).

The data used in the rankings are sourced from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Pyramid Research, the World Bank, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and others. Qualitative criteria are assessed by the Economist Intelligence Unit's extensive network of country experts, and their assessments are reviewed by our top economists. For more information on the methodology, please refer to the appendix of our white paper.

For more information on the methodology, please refer to our white paper, available in PDF format, at http://www.eiu.com/sponsor/ibm/e-readinessrankings2008 "E-readiness rankings 2008: Maintaining momentum."

About the Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit is the business information arm of The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist. Through our global network of more than 650 analysts and contributors, we continuously assess and forecast political, economic and business conditions in 200 countries. As the world's leading provider of country intelligence, we help executives make better business decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.

About the IBM Institute for Business Value
For more information, visit http://www.ibm.com

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