Ireland slips down e-readiness rankings

But Europe still dominates

Ireland has slipped into sixteenth place in the latest Economist e-readiness rankings, losing ground as our industrialised peers adopt VoIP and internet television.

That's according to the seventh annual e-Readiness Rankings, which measures the e-business environment of 68 countries around the world, gauging the extent to which each market is prepared to take advantage of internet-based opportunities in the public and private sectors.

The report, which was prepared by IBM and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), found that Europe continues to dominate the rankings, taking six of the top 10 spots. Denmark is the most "e-ready" country in the world, followed by the US, Switzerland, Sweden, UK, the Netherlands, Finland, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong.

Over the past six years since the study was first published, scores have improved across the board and the gap between the leaders and the trailing countries has narrowed.

"The digital divide no longer looks quite the chasm many people once feared," Economist Intelligence Unit editorial director Daniel Franklin, said in a statement.

In this latest report, Ireland slipped into 16th place - one slot lower than in 2005 - right behind New Zealand and Austria. However, Ireland still managed to outrank six EU15 countries, including Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece.

The rankings look at a broad range of issues and are not solely focused on broadband availability. South Korea and Japan, two of the world's broadband penetration leaders, ranked only 18th and 21st respectively.

Other criteria, such as innovation, information security and governments' commitment to digital development, have emerged as more important differentiators.

For example, the leading countries have been boosting their e-readiness through the adoption of internet-based innovations such as VoIP and IPTV. Innovation continues in the public sector as well, particularly in Europe, where initiatives are making e-government services more accessible to citizens.

The six categories are connectivity and technology infrastructure; business environment; consumer and business adoption; social and cultural environment; legal and policy environment and supporting e-services.

"Economic progress is increasingly dependent on innovations in the use of technology," says George Pohle, of the IBM Institute for Business Value. "In economies reaching ubiquitous adoption of the internet and communications technologies, future competitiveness is driven by the creation of new services that exploit the infrastructure."

Copyright © 2006, ENN

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