Singapore has topped the Economist Intelligence Unit's Asian Digital Transformation Index for the second time, due to the widespread availability of reliable, fast and affordable digital connectivity and the strength of digital skills across the workforce.
The EIU research, commissioned by Australian operator Telstra, found that high speed internet is now nearly ubiquitous in the market.
About 97% of Singapore’s population now has access to superfast internet connectivity – followed by mainland China (77%) and Hong Kong (74%).
The EIU found the clarity and ambition of Singapore’s digital vision a driving force in the country’s ranking, evident through the successful implementation of ICT infrastructure strategy – including 5G development plans and fiber network rollout.
The Index cited the importance of 5G mobile connectivity in realizing the potential of AI, IoT, Industry 4.0 and autonomous vehicles. Singapore and South Korea are leading the charge in Asia to launch 5G services in 2020. Japan and mainland China were also found to be well advanced in 5G planning.
Singapore also made significant gains in The EIU’s rankings of digital skills and education, moving up three places in since the first Index release two years ago, overtaking South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan to top the Index’s human capital measure.
Telstra’s Head of International Oliver Camplin-Warner said that digital skills has long been an issue facing Asian economies in their drive for digital transformation.
“Singapore’s digital transformation environment, as the Index found, is one of the best in the world, but talent shortages continue to be a key hurdle in realizing its full potential,” Camplin-Warner said.
“When I speak to customers across Asia, they continually cite finding the right people with the right digital skills as an acute business challenge that impacts their operations across the region. This has long been an area where the West has had an advantage over the East, but as the Index shows, we’re beginning to see change,” he said.
While Singapore topped the Index in 2016, in an expanded Index which included global competitors, Singapore this year would overtake the US to be the number one environment for digital transformation.
Of the Index’s three indicators, Singapore only lost ground in the industry connectivity index, which measures organizations’ ability to absorb and benefit from digital technology available in the market, dropping two places to fourth. This is due in part to a reduction in the ecommerce market score and proportion of online shoppers.
“Since the commencement of the Asian Digital Transformation Index two years ago, we have seen the positive impact of what a clear vision and long-term digital strategies can deliver,” Camplin-Warner said.
“Through commissioning this research we aim to increase understanding of digital capabilities across the region, as well as the digital environment of each economy to enable technology-led change in business and society.”
The Asian Digital Transformation Index 2018 can be downloaded here.