The picture that emerges from this year’s analysis gives reason for optimism but not for complacency. Although there are still large heterogeneities across countries in terms of networked readiness, the overall trend is positive across all regions of the world.
In particular, individual adoption is growing steadily across the globe as efforts continue to close the digital divide. Business executives are optimistic about their countries’ growing innovation capacities, yet the digital innovation impact is so far coming through much more strongly in some countries than in others—the gap between seven digital front runners and the followers is wide. The analysis identifies a high level of business adoption and usage of digital technologies as one of the key characteristics of countries in which ICTs are having a robust economic and digital innovation impact. In most countries, businesses are perceived to be moving at only a moderate pace in truly embracing all dimensions of digitization—in their relations upstream with suppliers and downstream with consumers. This process will need renewed momentum if firms are hoping to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Although government use and promotion of ICTs has recently started to fall short of expectations across regions, a number of countries are making large strides in the Index thanks to a strong government ICT vision and engagement in the digital economy. Overall, governments can do more to drive the social impact of digital technologies—for example, by using them to make basic government services more accessible. As technologies are rapidly evolving and can be expected to have a profound impact on our economies and societies, new governance structures will also urgently need to be put in place in order to channel technological forces in ways that bring broad-based gains to societies.