Singapore among top seven tech-ready economies: WEF

Marina Bay with the Singapore skyline at dusk.
Marina Bay with the Singapore skyline at dusk.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore has come up tops in a survey that looks at how ready economies are for the coming digital revolution.

It is one of seven economies that the World Economic Forum (WEF) said is leading the race in the next industrial revolution, which is likely to be dominated by digital technologies and innovation.

Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States are leading the world when it comes to generating economic impact from investments in information and communications technologies (ICT).

The WEF's Global Information Technology Report 2016 found that the group of seven economies scored 33 per cent more than other advanced economies, led by efforts to be early adopters of new technologies. At the same time, the report noted that businesses in these countries had very high levels of ICT adoption.

"This technology-enabled innovation, in turn, unleashes new competitive pressures which call for yet more innovation by tech and non-tech firms alike," said the report.

It added that governments need to start thinking about new policies to manage the impact from digital technology.

"Digital technologies are unleashing new economic and social dynamics, which will need to be managed if the digital transformation of industries and societies is to deliver long-term and broad-based gains. The new digital economy thus also calls for new types of leadership, governance and behaviours," said the WEF.

The report ranked each economy based on 53 indicators, from political and regulatory environment, skills and affordability to individual and business usage of ICT.

In particular, Singapore was tops for providing the right environment for business and innovation.

The Republic also led the pack in the actual usage of such technologies, with government usage ranking the best among the 139 economies surveyed.

But when it came to affordability, Singapore was in 72nd place, largely because of the high-cost environment here.

"Overall, this ranking is to a large extent the result of strong government commitment to the digital agenda, including its Smart Nation programme," noted the report.

The Smart Nation plan aims to harness the power of new technologies, data and networks to boost businesses and aid individuals .

Among other initiatives, it has been holding "hackathons" which aim to help develop technological solutions to challenges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore among top seven tech-ready economies: WEF'. Print Edition | Subscribe