The Global Information Technology Report: Living in a Hyperconnected World

Last year, the Global Information Technology Report (GITR) series celebrated its 10th anniversary. The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with INSEAD, initially began this project to explore the impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on productiv-ity and development as a component of the Forum’s research on competitiveness. To this end, over the past decade the Networked Readiness Index (NRI) has been measuring the degree to which economies across the world leverage ICT for enhanced competitiveness. During this period, it has been helping policymakers and relevant stakeholders to track their economies’ strengths and weaknesses as well as their progress over time. In addition, it has identified best practices in networked readiness and designed roadmaps and strategies for es-tablishing optimal ICT diffusion to boost competiveness. Since 2002, the networked readiness framework has remained stable, aside from some minor adjust-ments at the variable level to better reflect the dynamic trends in the technology landscape. This has allowed for meaningful comparisons across time and created a valuable database of technology metrics. However, the ICT industry has changed dramatically since 2002 and its effects are increasingly transforming our economies and societies. More precisely, over the past decade, the world has become increasingly “hyperconnected.” We live in an environment where the Internet and its associated services are accessible and immediate, where people and businesses can communicate with each other instantly, and where machines are equally interconnected with each other. The exponential growth of mobile de-vices, big data, and social media are all drivers of this process of hyperconnectivity. Consequently, we are beginning to see fundamental transformations in society. Hyperconnectivity is redefining relationships between individuals, consumers and enterprises, and citizens and the state. It is introducing new opportunities to increase productivity and well-being by redefining the way busi-ness is done, generating new products and services, and improving the way public services are delivered. However, hyperconnectivity can also bring about new challenges and risks in terms of security, cybercrime, privacy, the flow of personal data, individual rights, and access to information.

Traditional organizations and industry infrastructures are also facing challenges as industries converge. This will inevitably have consequences for policy and regula-tion because regulators will have to mediate the blur-ring lines between sectors and industries, and will be obligated to oversee more facets of each interaction in a pervasive way. For example, in terms of security and surveillance, hyperconnectivity is transforming the way people, objects, and even animals are being monitored. Experts also predict it will have an impact on inventory, transport and fleet management, wireless payments, navigation tools, and so on. The impact of ICT on differ-ent facets of life and work is growing. In this context, the way we monitor, measure, and benchmark the deployment and impacts of ICT must evolve to take into account the rapid changes and consequences of living in a hyperconnected world. Reflecting on this imperative of adaptation, a compre-hensive review process of the NRI framework has been undertaken, guided by a process of high-level consulta-tions with academic experts, policymakers, and repre-sentatives of the ICT industry. The results of this new framework are presented for the first time in this edition of the Report.

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