Co-Authored by Jeff Campbell, Pastora Valero and Dominic Scott.

Cisco recently released the results of our 2019 Digital Readiness Index, a report measuring the digital readiness of 141 countries along with analysis of several components of how well-positioned a country is to benefit from the digital economy.

You can view our Digital Readiness Index site full of information and insights here.

At Cisco, we are constantly looking towards the future, one that is inclusive and one that builds bridges between people and technologies. We believe in a world where everyone can participate in the digital economy.

Here’s what we’re seeing across the world:

From Jeff Campbell, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Americas

“It’s no surprise that U.S. fares well in digital readiness; the adoption of technology is accelerating, and policies have been put in place that encourage business investment and a healthy start-up environment. Canada too ranks high particularly in Human Capital.

“In Mexico, increased technology adoption and infrastructure will help compliment their improvements made in business and government investment and ease of doing business.  And across Latin America, increased technology adoption is helping them become more digitally ready.”

From Pastora Valero, Vice President of Government Affairs for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia

“It’s exciting to see that seven of the top 10 countries in the Digital Readiness Index are in Europe, with Luxembourg taking 2nd place, Denmark 4th and the Netherlands in 6th place respectively. Europe is clearly leading by investing in the necessary technology infrastructure, but also showcasing how start-ups they can be successful in the region. Of course, more can be done to enable all countries in Europe to foster greater digital innovation and adoption through effective policy making and having an even greater competitive landscape.

“In Africa, we see that increased investments in all categories will help nations increase their digital readiness, Basic Needs among them. Botswana, for example, has become one of the world’s fastest growing economies with one of the highest GDP’s in Africa. The creation of innovation hubs has helped created an evolving national innovation system.

“The Middle East is a large and diverse region but Governments and industry are looking to grow as the changes in technology come through. Israel, in particular, is ranked 7th for start-ups, showcasing over 6,000 high-tech organizations currently registered in the country. Closely followed in the global rankings by United Arab Emirates scoring highly on technology adoption in 5th place globally.”

 

From Dominic Scott, Vice President of Government Affairs for Asia-Pacific, Japan and China

“Singapore ranks #1 in our Digital Readiness Index and for good reason; their government has made a concerted effort to invest in digital programs, attract global businesses and make investments in infrastructure and research.

“Across Asia, we see many nations scoring high in meeting the basic needs of their people with Japan ranking #1 in the world. We also see the opportunity for more technology infrastructure across the region.”

So what can nations do to accelerate their Digital Readiness?

Understanding a country’s digital readiness gives insight into what specific investments or interventions could help a country move up in their digital journey. Here’s what countries can do to accelerate their digital readiness:

Infrastructure is the Foundation

As the world becomes more interconnected, technological infrastructure is just as important as a physical infrastructure. That means mobile and fixed broadband, secure internet servers, and household internet access are necessary investments, so too is available spectrum that allows for the next generation of Wi-Fi and 5G.

As governments fund roads, they must also fund the road to the internet.

Digital Skills Will Propel Job Growth

The jobs of the future, and ultimately economic growth, will depend on a workforce trained in digital skills.

At Cisco, we prepare people for a digital future with our signature program, the Cisco Networking Academy. We’ve partnered with thousands of universities, community colleges and other learning institutions to provide best-in-class training for students and professionals for the most in-demand IT jobs in networking, cybersecurity, and IoT. Since its inception in 1997, more than ten million students have learned from the Cisco Networking Academy, and over two million of them in the last year alone.

But Cisco, can’t do this alone. Governments must increase STEM education, keep updating curriculum of higher learning institutions to keep pace with the evolving economy, and invest in job retaining for workers at risk of getting left behind.

 

Basic Human Needs Cannot Be Overlooked

Without a population’s basic needs met, communities are not able to reap the benefits of technology.  We looked at data relating to life expectancy, mortality rate of children under five years of age, and access to basic services such as electricity and safe drinking water. Not surprisingly, we found was that a society’s ability to meet these basic needs correlated with their digital readiness.

That’s why Cisco has committed to powering the movement to end poverty. Through a partnership with international antipoverty organization Global Citizen, we’re equipping young people to make positive changes in the world and end extreme poverty. We’re proud to be Global Citizen’s official technology partner and funding the Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award. To date, 469 million people have been positively impacted by Cisco’s social impact grants and signature programs. We’re well on the way to the 1 billion people we’ve pledged to positively impact by 2025.

Continued investments by governments in the basic needs of their people will only increase their ability to participate in the digital economy.

Governments Can Control Their Digital Readiness

Digital readiness is by and large something governments can control through the investments they make and the systems they put in place. Investments made by the public sector and encouraged through the private sector directly impact the technology infrastructure and basic needs of their people. Likewise, the business start-up environment, adoption of technology, and education systems are a result of the policies governments create. The countries that invest in their networks and their people through education rank more digitally ready. So do nations that set up an environment for businesses to thrive, people to learn and technology to get into the hands of users.

Nations must improve the systems that support digital readiness and make investments necessary to bridge the digital divide.

 

We are proud that Cisco’s research helps heads of state, universities, educators, and nonprofit leaders set direction for social investments and program development. We look forward to continuing our work with them to bridge the digital divide and foster a more inclusive future where all citizens can participate and thrive.

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