10 Most Digitally Competitive Countries: 2017

In digitally competitive countries, ‘government must facilitate the adoption of new technologies,’ according to IMD Ranking report

The IMD World Competitiveness Center this year has published a separate report ranking countries’ digital competitiveness to go along with its annual World Competitiveness Yearbook, which lists the most competitive countries overall.

Indicators for technology and scientific infrastructure are already included in the overall rankings. However, the Digital Competitiveness Ranking introduces several new criteria to measure countries’ ability to adopt and explore digital technologies leading to transformation in government practices, business models and society in general.

The ranking defines digital competitiveness into three main factors:

  • Knowledge: Know-how necessary to discover, understand and build new technologies
  • Technology: Overall context that enables the development of digital technologies
  • Future readiness: Level of country preparedness to exploit digital transformation

“There is no doubt that supportive and inclusive government institutions help technological innovation,” Arturo Bris, the center’s director, said in a statement

(Related: Top 10 Most Business-Friendly Countries: 2017)

The top-ranked countries, he said, “have developed regulation that takes advantage of the talent they have by adopting, for instance, regulation that facilitates the inflow of overseas talent which complements the locally available pool.”

Bris noted that the U.S. invests more in developing its scientific concentration and generating ideas, but the country has a history of government support for technological innovation.

“This shows that in digitally competitive countries, the government must facilitate the adoption of new technologies,” he said. 

Many of the top 10 digitally competitive countries also appear at the top of the overall rankings, with a few exceptions. Finland, for example, ranks high on the digital list, but 15th in the overall list.

“Of paramount importance in the digital ranking are issues related to how adaptive and agile economies are when faced with technological change,” Bris said. 

The bottom five countries are Indonesia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Peru and Venezuela. “One thing the results highlight is that these countries not only have low rankings in terms of talent but they don’t invest in developing whatever talent they have,” Bris said.

Following are the IMD’s 10 most digitally competitive countries, out of a total of 63, with their ranking according to the three indicators as well as their rank on the overall competitive list.

Fishing village in Norway.

10. Norway

  • 2016 rank: 9
  • Knowledge:  15
  • Technology: 2
  • Future readiness: 12
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 11

9: Canada

  • 2016 rank: 5
  • Knowledge: 3
  • Technology: 13
  • Future readiness: 8
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 12

 Streets of Zurich, Switzerland.

8: Switzerland

  • 2016 rank: 7
  • Knowledge: 4
  • Technology: 8
  • Future readiness: 13
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 2

7: Hong Kong SAR

  • 2016 rank: 11
  • Knowledge: 6
  • Technology: 3
  • Future readiness: 17
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 1

Skaters on an Amsterdam canal. (Photo: AP) 

6: Netherlands

  • 2016 rank: 4
  • Knowledge: 11
  • Technology: 9
  • Future readiness: 3
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 5

5: Denmark

  • 2016 rank: 8
  • Knowledge: 8
  • Technology: 10
  • Future readiness: 1
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 7

American Flag Balloon (Photo: AP)

4: Finland

  • 2016 rank: 6
  • Knowledge:  9
  • Technology: 4
  • Future readiness: 4
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 15

3: United States

  • 2016 rank: 2
  • Knowledge: 5
  • Technology: 6
  • Future readiness: 2
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 4

The Harbor in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden. 

2: Sweden

  • 2016 rank: 3
  • Knowledge: 2
  • Technology: 5
  • Future readiness: 5
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 9

1: Singapore

  • 2016 rank: 1
  • Knowledge: 1
  • Technology: 1
  • Future readiness: 6
  • 2017 competitiveness rank: 3

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