Australia is more than able to take advantage of the information revolution today than it was ever in position to exploit the industrial revolutionAustralia's ongoing investment in critical information, computer, social and Internet infrastructures has boosted its rating in the third release of the Information Society Index. We are moving rapidly from an industrial economy to an information economy in which intellectual know-how will eclipse financial capital as the true measure of wealth.
Australia's rating was boosted to eighth in the new Index, at 3416, up from 12th in the previous release. This was well ahead of many European and all Asian countries, apart from Singapore.
The index is a measure of a country's "information wealth", a key driver of economic success in the information revolution. It assessed the ability of individuals in 55 industrial and emerging economies to access, adopt and absorb information and information technologies. Results from the updated index ranged from a low of 661 to a high of 4213, showing the spectrum of IT access around the globe.
The index findings sought to assess the nations to provide a measure of their progress toward achieving an information technology-oriented society. The 55 countries account for 77 per cent of the world's population, 96 per cent of the world's GDP, and more than 99 per cent of the world's spending on information technology.
Australia was ranked second to Singapore in the Internet factors, fourth in social factors, ninth in computer-related factors and 15th in terms of information infrastructure factors. The Information Society Index incorporates data from IDC's global network of IT research and it also builds on data from the World Times Wealth of Nations Index.
Information services and infrastructure are increasingly seen as the seeds of market growth, indeed it will be hard to imagine the future development of any economy that is deficient in "information wealth".
Australia's high standing and ongoing improvement in its computer and information infrastructure is widely recognised. Australia is forecast to rise further to fourth position by 2002. To attain this highly rated position it will be necessary to continue to heavily and very effectively invest in the wide range of social and other factors that will influence progress towards an information society.
Graham Penn is general manager of research for IDC Australia