The world’s most digitally advanced countries

Digital Evolution Index Harvard_Business Review World Economic Forum

First introduced in the Harvard Business Review in 2015, the Digital Evolution Index aims to trace the emergence of a ‘digital planet’ as technology displaces traditional interactions.

Recently given its first update, the Index analyses the state and rate of digital evolution across 60 countries, placing them into one of four zones.

Stand Out

Highly digitally advanced and exhibiting high momentum, these are the leaders in driving innovation, but will also face the challenge of sustaining consistently high momentum

Stall Out

Countries that enjoy a high state of digital advancement while exhibiting slowing momentum. Moving past their ‘digital plateaus’ will require a conscious effort to reinvent themselves

Break Out

Currently low-scoring, these countries are evolving rapidly and have significant headroom for growth. With China, Malaysia, Bolivia, Kenya, and Russia leading the pack, these could be the Stand Out countries of the future

Watch Out

Countries that face significant challenges with their low state of digitalisation and low momentum – in some cases they’re even moving backward. The surest way for these countries to improve would be if the proportion of mobile phones with internet access increases

The most exciting region, digitally-speaking, can be seen to be Asia, with China and Malaysia leading pack. In Africa, digitally-savvy Kenya’s thriving ecosystem has given it an impressive level of momentum, while in Latin America smaller, faster-moving countries, such as Colombia and Bolivia, are ones to watch.

Putting this in context they helpfully provide some reminders about today’s digital landscape:

  • There are more mobile connections than people on the planet
  • More people have access to a mobile phone than to a toilet
  • Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook are – as of July 2017 – the five most valuable companies in the world
  • The most valuable non-American company, ranked 7th, was China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group
  • Automation, big data, and artificial intelligence enabled by the application of digital technologies could affect 50% of the world economy.

However, to put this in context, they also note that digital access remains far from uniform, with barely 50% of the world’s population having access to the internet today.

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