The Asian Digital Transformation Index 2018 released by The Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by Telstra ranked Singapore the leader in digital infrastructure among Asian nations.
The second 2018 edition of the Index finds economies such as India and Japan, as well as the overall leader Singapore, making some progress in aspects of digital infrastructure and human capital. South Korea, Malaysia, and mainland China, register marked improvements in terms of industry connectivity. Japan and Hong Kong overtook South Korea to take second and third place, and Taiwan at number 5.
The report revealed the progress of Asian economies in developing digital infrastructure, skills, and technology ecosystems. It noted that-
• Asia is making up some ground on the West. Had the US, UK, and Australia been included in the Index, Singapore would still be the overall leader. The region’s other high-income economies, and in some cases mainland China, compare favourably with the three western countries in several areas.
• Digital expertise, particularly in fields such as AI and advanced analytics, is in short supply in most parts of the world. When considering the availability of telecommunications professionals—the fourth new indicator this year—Singapore emerges as the strongest Asian economy, while India and mainland China have progressed in terms of other human capital indicators.
• The availability of reliable, fast and affordable digital connectivity is not the sole determinant of a positive environment for digital transformation, but it is the most important one. India and Japan show the most improvement in digital infrastructure, moving up four positions and two positions in rank since 2016 respectively.
The survey noted that “ Of the 10 cities facing the most acute talent shortages relevant to digitization seven were in Asia, including cities in Japan, India, mainland China and Thailand, as well as Singapore.”
As the use of AI, the IoT and other advanced technologies becomes widespread, the difficulties of meeting local demand for digital talent are only likely to grow more acute. However, Singapore is in the strongest position to address these challenges and has risen three places to occupy the top position in this category in 2018. This is due to the addition of a new human capital indicator which measures the presence of qualified telecommunications professionals within the workforce.
South Korea came second and is a strong performer in developing human capital for digital transformation. It is also considered by The Economist Intelligence Unit to be the most prepared of 25 countries in the world to meet the future challenges of automation, partly thanks to the country’s education policies.
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