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The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released a global research project commissioned by Telstra showing which countries in Asia have the necessary building blocks in place to ensure business success in a connected world.

The EIU’s ‘Connecting Capabilities’ report includes the first ever Asian Digital Transformation Index, a quantitative ranking of 11 Asian markets and three global comparators using 20 indicators across three key categories relevant to business performance: digital infrastructure, human capital and industry connectedness.

Martijn Blanken, Telstra’s Group Managing Director of Global Enterprise and Services, said the research was in recognition of the fact high quality digital infrastructure, an educated and technically literate workforce and a well-functioning technology ecosystem were the building blocks of success for companies and countries alike in the connected world.

“As part of their research, the EIU has surveyed more than 850 businesses and 94 per cent said a country’s infrastructure is important to their organisation’s digital transformation, reinforcing the fact that access to high quality telecommunications and technology services is vital for business success,” said Mr. Blanken.

“Indeed as e-commerce and digital processes only grow in importance, countries that fall behind when it comes to their digital infrastructure, human capital or ecosystem risk putting their economy at a disadvantage when it comes to competing on a global scale and attracting investment.”

Key findings of the research include:

  • Singapore, South Korea and Japan lead the way in Asia. These three countries top the Asia Index primarily due to their superior digital infrastructure and are a long way ahead of large developing markets like Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • The region still has some catching up to do. While several Asian countries are performing well, a comparison with the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom shows the region as a whole is behind when it comes to digital infrastructure and human capital.
  • The big emerging markets of China and India are now home to more internet users than anywhere else in the world and have advanced technology services available in many major cities, but both face challenges when it comes to nationwide infrastructure and bringing their entire populations online.
  • Recruiting the right talent is a challenge. While South Korea and Japan lead the Index in the human capital category, only 16 per cent of companies surveyed said it is ‘very easy’ to find employees with the requisite digital skills.

Digital Transformation Index

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“In the EIU survey 87 per cent of companies agreed digital transformation will be important to their organisation over the next three years, but if your business lacks access to the necessary infrastructure, skills and ideas, then you simply cannot take full advantage of the opportunities created by digital technology,” said Mr. Blanken.

The EIU survey also looked at differences between industries when it comes to their approach to digital transformation, finding that there are significant differences between industries. Across all countries the financial services industry led the way in their commitment to digital transformation, while logistics and transportation has the lowest results for taking responsibility for digital disruption.

“The research shows companies across all major sectors are looking to digital transformation to deliver benefits like lower costs as well as new customers, products and markets. This research makes an important contribution to digging deeper into what is required to realise these goals.”

The full report and the data used to compile the Index can be found at http://connectedfuture.economist.com.

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The Connecting Capabilities report includes:

  • The first Asian Digital Transformation Index, which is a quantitative ranking of 11 major Asian markets and three global comparators (the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom). The Index is comprised of 20 indicators across three categories relevant to enterprises and large organisations: digital infrastructure (including the reach and quality of telecommunications networks), human capital (including education, citizen e-participation and Internet usage) and industry connectedness (including e-commerce maturity and strength of digital partnerships).
  • A survey with 870 executives in the same 14 countries across six industries – manufacturing, financial services, media, healthcare, professional services, and logistics.