Study: Light cast on which countries are 'e-ready'

A Washington-based international consultancy on Thursday released its second analysis of the "e-readiness" of dozens of countries, concluding that business opportunities abound even though there has been little improvement over the results of the last report.

The report was prepared by McConnell International LLC and follows on the first e-readiness assessment released by the firm last August. The report examined 53 countries -- 11 more than last year's report -- on five factors: the availability and access to networks; government and industry leadership in fostering electronic business and electronic government; the strength of laws protecting intellectual property rights; the availability of workers to support electronic business; and the electronic-business climate. It also looked at e-readiness initiatives, assessing their level of impact and innovation.

The report "shines a beacon" on who is e-ready, who is taking action and what is working, said Bruce McConnell, president of McConnell International. It also highlights business opportunities, especially for companies looking for ways to revitalize following the recent slowdown of the economy.

"There are a lot of business opportunities in these countries, but these business opportunities are not for the faint-hearted," McConnell said at a news conference. "They are risky, and you really have to be ready to work with local partners, local governments, local industry and not-for-profit organizations if you want to be successful."

Nevertheless, e-business, e-government, and e-society are on the front burner today in many of the emerging economies and the slowdown is seen as a time for them to catch up with the rich countries.

The report gives its highest assessment in the five categories to Estonia, South Korea and Taiwan. Each of those countries received the highest rating possible in the categories of e-leadership and human capital. No other country received the highest rating in two or more categories. However, Mexico, Lithuania, Greece and the United Arab Emirates received a medium rating in all five categories.

Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), agreed that the report holds an interesting message for companies looking to expand globally.

"The business opportunities are real. People who say that the Internet and information technology is mature are really missing the point."

Miller, who recently visited India, said that when only 350 million people out of a worldwide population of 6 billion use the Internet, it's obvious there is still much growth to be achieved. In India, which has more than 1 billion people, there is a successful IT sector, but it's still a small part of the overall economy. However, the IT sector is determined to make it a larger share, he said.

"The report helps us to better understand the steps which economies must take to claim their share of the world's great opportunities," Miller added.

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