Despite the nbn rollout, Australia’s digital network readiness index ranking from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has fell from 16th to 18th place.
According to the new WEF’s Global Information Technology Report 2016, Australia’s digital competitiveness dropped in 2015 with the country’s Network Readiness Index rank falling two places.
The annual report is based on extensive research conducted by the WEF and its network of over 160 Partner Institutes.
Australian industry association, The Australian Industry Group, is the WEF’s Partner Institute in Australia.
Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox said, “Despite the NBN roll-out and the efforts from all sides of politics to improve our digital readiness Australia clearly still has some way to go to regain a place inside the world’s top ten.
“As an advanced economy, Australia ranks relatively poorly compared to its peers. Indeed, there is a clear gap between the top seven ranked economies and other advanced economies.
“These countries (dominated by Singapore, northern Europe and the US) currently lead the way in embedding and leveraging digital technologies. Critically, they are characterised by a business sector that is embracing new digital technologies and innovations as core parts of operations.
“For Australia, the 2016 result is disappointing especially at a time of economic and political uncertainty when we should be doing all we can to improve our productive performance at all levels and through all means.”
Mr Willox said Australia had made a small improvement in 2015, rising from 18th to 16th, but this latest drop moves Australia further away from the top nine ranking held in 2004.
“Over the past year Iceland and New Zealand have edged ahead of us in their digital competitiveness. This serves as a reminder that if we do not work harder to continue to improve our competitiveness, we will be further left behind by other advanced economies,” Mr Willox said.
“Australia ranks well on aspects of infrastructure, use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by individuals and general ICT readiness. However, use of ICT and digital innovation by businesses are lagging,” Mr Willox said.
Mr WIllox said Australian business need to embrace ICT and continue to innovate.
“Central to improving digital competitiveness will be development of effective policies to encourage business innovation and use of ICT and the development of the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills needed to leverage new technologies,” Mr Willox said.
“This is all the more important in the context of Australia’s transition from the resource-related investment boom towards new drivers of growth.
“We note that initiatives over the last year, including the National Innovation and Science Agenda and the Industry 4.0 Taskforce, are important to support our participation in the fourth industrial revolution and to lift our overall global competitiveness. We encourage bipartisan support in these types of productivity-boosting initiatives.”
Other key findings from the Global Information Technology Report 2016 include the complementary roles of competition policy, policies to alleviate labour market polarisation, and an effective research and innovation framework.