UK ranks 13th in Cisco digital readiness index

Networking giant reveals benchmark holistically assessing countries’ digital readiness across seven key criteria, including technology adoption and technology infrastructure, and finds UK somewhat wanting

The UK may have fired the starting gun on the race to build a nationwide full-fibre broadband network, but it is rather lagging behind the pace when it comes to overall understanding and increasing digital readiness, according to a survey from Cisco.

The networking giant’s Digital readiness index was developed to holistically measure a country’s level of digital readiness. It is designed to provide guidance on how countries can improve their overall readiness to foster an inclusive digital economy.

Putting this into context, Cisco said that as digital technologies advance at a rapid pace, connecting people around the world and creating new and exciting opportunities, people have greater access to knowledge, services and resources as a result of technological advancements.

It added that while the impact of automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) is felt almost everywhere and the impact of digitisation is widespread, the benefits yielded are distributed unevenly. That made it important to understand a country’s digital readiness.

The 2019 Cisco digital readiness index measured the digital readiness of 141 countries across seven components – the UK was ranked thirteenth globally and ninth in Europe.

Cisco believes there are seven holistic components determining digital readiness: basic needs; business and government investment; ease of doing business; human capital; startup environment; technology adoption; and technology infrastructure. The latter two examine, respectively, mobile cellular penetration, internet usage and public cloud services; and mobile broadband subscriptions, fixed broadband subscriptions and secure internet servers.

Of the top 10 largest economies in the world by total GDP, only the US ranked in the top 10 – in third place. However, readiness was found to vary across the country, a facet also true for many other places. Singapore took the top ranking, with strong performance in all seven components, including the top score in human capital and business and government investment.

Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland and Singapore were the top five countries for technology infrastructure, while the US, Canada, Luxembourg, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates were the top five countries for technology adoption.

Looking at the UK in the index, when it came to technology adoption and technology infrastructure – and particularly looking at factors such as internet access, cyber security, mobile phone and cloud penetration – the country ranked 19th and 15th respectively. 

The UK ranked eighth globally in terms of how easy it is to do business and its environment for breeding successful startups. The country performed strongly when reviewing elements such as corporate law, logistics and access to utilities such as electricity. It also scored highly in terms of its venture capital availability and investment, new business density, and patent and trademark registrations. In terms of business and government investment, the UK ranked 17th in a category which measured the sources of private and public investment, research and development spend, and investment freedom.

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