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Australia falls in Global Digital Competitiveness rankings

Australia's digital competitiveness slipped last year, with our Networked Readiness Index rank falling from 16th to 18th place according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2016 released today (0800 AEST).

The annual Global Information Technology Report is based on extensive research conducted by the WEF and its network of over 160 Partner Institutes. The Australian Industry Group is the WEF’s Partner Institute in Australia.

Ai 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. It comes off a small improvement in 2015 (from 18th to 16th) and steers us further away from our top 9 ranking in 2004.


 WEF chart


“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.  

“Australian businesses need to better embrace ICT and improve their capacity 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. 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 & 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,” Innes Willox said.

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.

Read the full report: 

Media Enquiries:  Tony Melville – 0419 190 347

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak industry association in Australia which represents the interests of more than 60,000 businesses in an expanding range of sectors including: manufacturing; engineering; construction; food; transport; information technology; telecommunications; labour hire; and defence. The businesses we represent employ more than 1 million people.