Meta Launches 'Global New E-Economy Index'

BOSTON (06/27/2000) - Saying that old measurements of productivity, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP), have been made obsolete by changes in the global economy brought about by IT advances, the Meta Group Inc. on Tuesday unveiled the "Global New E-Economy Index," a tool for measuring countries' technological production and potential.

The index, which currently tracks 47 countries, is composed of five measurements:

-- Knowledge jobs, or the number of qualified engineers, senior managers and higher education students in a given country;-- Technological innovation, determined by the average number of annual patents and money spent on research and development;-- Movement toward a digital economy, expressed by the number of ISPs (Internet service providers) per 1,000 people and telecommunications investment as an average percentage of GDP;-- Globalization, defined as the export of goods, direct investment flows abroad, absence of trade barriers and the export of services;-- Economic dynamism, or the level of worker motivation, entrepreneurship, corporate financial health and the availability of venture capital.

The U.S. ranks first on the index, followed by Japan, Germany, France, Finland, Canada and the U.K. The bottom of the index lists South Africa, Venezuela, Slovenia, Thailand and Indonesia.

This divide of IT capital along global north-south lines is one of the major findings of the index, according to Bruce McConnell, president of McConnell International and a consultant to the United Nations Working Group in Informatics. The so-called digital divide is "the most critical issue facing the world today," said McConnell.

The index, whose inspiration and authorship are both attributed to Howard Rubin, a research fellow with the Meta Group and a professor of computer science at CUNY/Hunter College in New York, revealed four strata of countries along this divide, Rubin said. The divisions are composed of a first tier consisting of the U.S., Germany and Japan, among others, followed by Spain, Norway and Austria on the second tier. Brazil and China are among the third-tier nations, with Thailand and Indonesia on the fourth.

When ranked by category, the Philippines placed first in knowledge jobs, Japan first in innovation, Finland first in economic dynamism and the U.S. in globalization and movement toward a digital economy, further underscoring the division.

However, the index is just the sort of tool that can be used to help narrow the global divide, Rubin said, because governments will now be able to identify their weaknesses and formulate policies that will employ IT to benefit their citizens.

The Meta Group is also working with the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute, which maintains an index based on the same statistics but tracks U.S. states, to help identify disparities within countries, not just between them. The internal digital divide is just as pressing as the international, McConnell said.

Though the index only tracks 47 countries currently, Rubin says the group hopes to add as many as 100 more by the end of 2000, citing a lack of good data as the reason for excluding some countries.

The index, which will be updated in December and then quarterly after that, is currently available, in part, on Rubin's website at http://www.metricnet.com/.

The complete data and report can be purchased through the Meta Group, which will provide the quarterly updates free to anyone who purchases the report, according to Rubin.

The Meta Group, in Stamford, Connecticut, can be reached at +1-203-973-6700 or at http://www.metagroup.com/. Metricnet, in Pound Ridge, New York, can be reached at +1-914-764-4931 or at http://www.metricnet.com/. The Progressive Policy Institute, in Washington, D.C., can be reached at +1-202-546-0007 or at http://www.dlcppi.org/

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