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The Economist's global digital rankings differ from OECD's rankings

If you care about the reality of American competitiveness and innovation be sure to check out the recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global digital rankings.

  • "The EIU e-readiness rankings for 2007 ranked 69 countries in terms of six criteria. In order of importance, these are: consumer and business adoption; connectivity and technology infrastructure; business environment, social and cultural environment, government policy and vision; and legal and policy environment."

What's most interesting, is that this objective ranking by the respected Economist, does not show the negative broadband outlook or assessment of the US that the OECD ranking does

  • In this EIU overall ranking, the United States ranks #2, not 12th or 15th like in the OECD rankings.
  • The EIU full report also has North America ranked higher than Western Europe in broadband affordability!
  • Listen to this quote from the full report:
    • "The US, with its heavily entrepreneurial culture, penchant for innovation and highly IT-literate workforce and student population, stands clear at the top of the group." 
  • Concerning "Consumer and business adoption: The report says:
    • "In the sheer scale of individual and business Internet use, the US certainly dwarfs all other countries."
    • "There is some concern that the great weight of the US in online activity makes it a sponge for the world's available digital resources, including talent and funding."

So why is this EIU report important? 

  • It debunks the doom and gloom characterization, and the partisanship/America-bashing, that characterized recent congressional hearings on US broadband and Internet competitiveness.
  • The Democratic talking points for those hearings were: "There's no debate the US is falling behind in broadband." 
    • What they were really saying is that they must trick people into believing there is a big broadband problem in the US for Americans to listen to their pro-regulation/Big Government policy approach to reverse long-standing, free-market broadband and the Internet policy.
      • Too bad the facts, like these EIU rankings, do not support their flawed policy views.

So what are the EIU digital rankings and why are they credible?

  • In their own words: "Launched in 2000, the EIU e-readiness rankings use a model developed together with the IBM Institute for Business Value. The rankings evaluate a country's e-business environment and how amenable a market is to internet-based opportunities."

So why are the two rankings (EIU and OECD) so different?

  • The EIU rankings appear to be trying to create an objective and wholistic view of global digital competitiveness.
    • The EIU people appear to understand that broadband is but one dimension of digital competitiveness.
  • In my opinion, the OECD data and rankings are heavily biased politically to encourage and warm the hearts of the OECD's Europe-heavy patrons and their French hosts.
    • It is particularly telling that the EIU rankings show that Asia is making gains at the expense of Europe.
    • I don't think you would get that kind of candor from the OECD's EU cheerleading squad.

A big fault I have with both rankings is that they fail to fully capture the United States' dominance of most all things Internet.

  • The US dominates most all categories of the Internet: companies, startups, startup financing and support, value creation, leading websites, real private investment in infrastructure, innovation, facilities-based competition, to name just a few of the US' leadership categories that often get ignored by the OECD.

 For a PDF of the whole report click here which will take you to the Economist PDF.