The UK now ranks third in the world for conducting e-business – the same level as the US – the 2003 “E-readiness Rankings” survey claimed. Four years ago, when the survey was launched, the UK ranked sixth.
“E-readiness” - the extent to which a market is conducive to internet-based opportunities - takes into account a wide range of factors, from the quality of IT infrastructure to the ambition of government initiatives and the degree to which the internet is creating real commercial efficiencies.
Daniel Franklin, editorial director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, said that despite tough economic times e-business was making real progress.
“The frenzy of the dotcom years has gone, but the quiet work of harnessing the internet to drive efficiencies in both business and government has, if anything, intensified,” he said.
The report recommended that the UK “can build on its outstanding e-readiness position, but should be aware to keep moving ahead”. For example, it said, low cost, high-speed internet access is essential to further development of e-business in the UK.
The report also praised the UK Online for Business project as “one of the world's strongest and most innovative government projects supporting e-business”.
In 2000, when the E-readiness survey was launched, the US was far ahead of the pack, but Scandinavian countries now lead the way. Sweden is now the front runner with Denmark close behind and Finland and Norway in sixth and seventh place respectively.
“What sets Scandinavia apart is the extent to which the internet has pervaded the marketplace and reshaped business transactions, and the eagerness with which citizens have incorporated internet technology into their daily routines,” the report said.