Tag Archives: internet

Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016

The World Economic Forum (WEF) published its Global Competitiveness Report, a comprehensive assessment of economic competitiveness across the globe. Each country’s relative economic strength is determined by analysing twelve pillars–including the capacity to innovate, infrastructure, and health factors. The top five is:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Singapore
  3. United States
  4. Germany
  5. The Netherlands

These results shouldn’t be a surpise if you are familiar with Global Innovation Index 2015 (GII), Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2015 or for example the Bloomberg Innovation Index

Global Competitiveness Report – Interactive graphic

Over at Quartz they created an interesting interactive graphic based om the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016. Very illustrative although they restricted the factors to these seven:

 Global Competitiveness Report

  • Higher Education and Training
  • Internet Users
  • Public Institutions
  • Capacity for Innovation
  • Soundness of Banks
  • Life Expectancy
  • Total Tax Rate

Finding billion dollar startups in Europe

The WSJ billion dollar startup club

The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones VentureSource are tracking venture-backed private companies valued at $1 billion or more. This group of companies is called the billion dollar club.

The infographic created by the WSJ can be used to track how the membership of this club evolves and what the valuation of these companies individual and as a group is. In line with the findings in the Digital Evolution Index there is a limited number of European companies in the club and their number and valuation aren’t growing as fast as Asia and USA ones.

In January 2014 only 2 of the 42 companies in the billion dollar club are from Europe. In September 2015 just 10 of the 118 are European based companies. Here is the list of billion dollar startups in Europe:

  • Spotify
  • Global Fashion Group
  • Delivery Hero
  • Powa
  • Adyen – Read: The unicorn of Amsterdam
  • BlaBlaCar
  • Klarna
  • Home24
  • Shazam
  • Farfetch
  • Funding Circle

Rocket Internet and Zalando exited the list in October 2014 because of their IPOs. All are located in the countries with the best internet infrastructure: United Kingdom (London), Sweden, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.

The TechCrunch billion dollar startup club

Besides WSJ and Dow Jones VentureSource TechCrunch also curates a list of Unicorns. A Unicorn being a private company with a post-money valuations of $1 billion or more. The TechCrunch Unicorn Leaderboard features one European company that isn’t listed at the WSJ’s list: Auto1 Group from Berlin, Germany.

The picture in both leader boards is the same: there is a relative low number of billion dollar European startups. It is the same in the emerging Unicorns list.

Does Europe fall behind?

Looking at both the WSJ and TechCrunch list of unicorns and the findings in the Digital Evolution Index it certainly looks like Europe is falling behind. If the EU wouldn’t agree why would they have bothered to start a digital agenda (a Europe 2020 initiative)?

Thomas Petersen has written Why is Europe failing to create more unicorns? Mainly stating that there is no true single European market, the EU doesn’t make it better for entrepreneurs (yet worse because of legislation and political sub optimisations), and there is geolocation where both money and technical knowledge gravitate to.

Besides those, there is a reason that al European unicorns are situated in the countries with the best internet infrastructure. Larger parts of Europe aren’t in that position yet.
Some of the European countries with unicorns are in the stall out group in the DESI index. Meaning that measures should be taken to get their momentum back because they run the risk of falling behind.
Again Europe should work really hard on creating a true single digital European market. Reducing the number of laws and trade barriers is key.

Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2015

The data presented by Digital Evolution Index seems supported by data from the European Commission. The EU defined a Digital Economy and Society Index to support and measure progress on the digital agenda for Europe:

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness.

The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is based on five dimensions:

  1. Connectivity – The Connectivity dimension measures the deployment of broadband infrastructure and its quality. Access to fast broadband-enabled services is a necessary condition for competitiveness.
  2. Human Capital – The Human Capital dimension measures the skills needed to take advantage of the possibilities offered by a digital society. Such skills go from basic user skills that enable individuals to interact online and consume digital goods and services, to advanced skills that empower the workforce to take advantage of technology for enhanced productivity and economic growth.
  3. Use of Internet – The Use of Internet dimension accounts for the variety of activities performed by citizens already online. Such activities range from consumption of online content (videos, music, games, etc.) to modern communication activities or online shopping and banking.
  4. Integration of Digital Technology – The Integration of Digital Technology dimension measures the digitisation of businesses and their exploitation of the online sales channel. By adopting digital technology businesses can enhance efficiency, reduce costs and better engage customers, collaborators and business partners. Furthermore, the Internet as a sales outlet offers access to wider markets and potential for growth.
  5. Digital Public Services – The Digital Public Services dimension measures the digitisation of public services, and focuses in particular on eGovernment and eHealth. Modernisation and digitisation of public services, including eHealth, can lead to efficiency gains for the public administration, citizens and businesses alike as well as to the delivery of better services for the citizen.

Note that factors included in the Digital Evolution Index like market supply and demand, and innovation are not included in the DESI.

Same leaders

Both the Digital Evolution Index and the Digital Economy and Society Index show the same countries as leaders in the digital market in Europe.
Digital Economy and Society Index

Denmark, Sweden, The Netherlands and Finland are the highest performing countries. They are not only ahead in the EU, but they are world leaders in digital.

DESI shows progress for Europe

The Digital Economy and Society Index improved from 2014 to 2015:
Digital Economy and Society Index progress
Keep in mind that there is no benchmark to non-European countries! Besides that it is remarkable that all countries improved. Also the Digital Evolution Index didn’t show progress for the highest performing countries. I think there’s a little too much optimism here.

The Digital Economy and Society Index has a more optimistic outlook for the digital economy in Europe compare to what the Digital Evolution Index shows us. However both support the case for a digital agenda for Europe in 2020.

Nevertheless the Washington Post showed in June Europe has an acute need for harmonisation. The article states that it’s easier for Europeans to buy and sell online with non-member countries, especially the United States, which accounts for more than half of all the EU’s digital business. Which is rather unexpected for a union. So there is a lot to do for Europe if the leading countries want to keep playing at the world top level and for the other countries not to fall to far behind.

From that perspective it is remarkable that there seems to be little focus on harmonising laws and bringing down barriers for digital trade in the Digital Single Market initiative.

Links and references

Digital Evolution Index shows Western Europe is stalling

Earlier this year The Fletcher School published the Digital Evolution Index. The Digital Evolution Index analyses the key underlying drivers and barriers that govern a country’s evolution into a digital economy:

  • Demand – including consumer behaviours and trends, financial and Internet and social media savviness.
  • Supply – including access, fulfilment, and transactions infrastructure.
  • Institutional Environment – including government effectiveness and its role in business, laws and regulations and promoting the digital ecosystem.
  • and Innovation – including the entrepreneurial, technological and funding ecosystems, presence and extent of disruptive forces and the presence of a start-up culture and mindset.

The data/ scores for all 50 of the included countries (XLS) can be downloaded.

The index is developed to identify how a group of countries stack up against each other in terms of readiness for a digital economy. Based on the performance of countries on the index during the years 2008 to 2013 they are categorised to one of four trajectory zones: Stand Out, Stall Out, Break Out, and Watch Out.

  • Stand Out countries have shown high levels of digital development in the past and continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries have the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their DEI. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.

How to read the Digital Evolution trajectory chart

Digital Evolution Index
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The Digital Evolution trajectory chart

The Digital Evolution trajectory chart
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In the example of The Netherlands, their Digital Evolution index is still top-10, however the Evolution within the Digital Ecosystem is at the bottom of the 50 included countries. Similar data is seen for more Western European countries. Of that region the United Kingdom and Ireland are just in the group of Stand Out countries.

Harvard Business Review uses the Digital Evolution Index to compare The Netherlands and Singapore:

Take, for example, Singapore and The Netherlands. Both are among the top 10 countries in present levels of digital evolution. But when we consider the momentum – i.e., the five-year rate of change from 2008 to 2013 – the two countries are far apart. Singapore has been steadily advancing in developing a world-class digital infrastructure, through public-private partnerships, to further entrench its status as a regional communications hub. Through ongoing investment, it remains an attractive destination for start-ups and for private equity and venture capital. The Netherlands, meanwhile, has been rapidly losing steam. The Dutch government’s austerity measures beginning in late 2010 reduced investment into elements of the digital ecosystem. Its stagnant, and at times slipping, consumer demand led investors to seek greener pastures.

Actions for Western Europe

The Stall Out economies of Europe, including the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium and France, could jumpstart their recovery by taking advantage of increased regional integration, selling goods across national borders to the 500+ million consumers in the wider EU.

The Washington Post is skeptical on the creation of a single European digital market. In June 2015 an article stated that it will be hard for Europe to overcome their innovation deficit. This is largely due to confusing and complex national regulations.

Besides that Stall Out countries are also tend to be “aging”. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation.

Germany is also in the Stall Out countries but is home to a very ambitious company Rocket Internet. Their mission:

To Become the World’s Largest Internet Platform Outside the United States and China

They have been busy launching e-commerce start-ups across a wide range of emerging and frontier markets. Their companies are poised to become the Alibabas and Amazons for the rest of the world: Jumia, which operates in nine countries across Africa; Namshi in the Middle East; Lazada and Zalora in ASEAN; Jabong in India; and Kaymu in 33 markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.

Update October 2015

In the last days of October 2015 HBR published a post: Europe’s other crisis a digital recession. It looks into how Europe has dealt with falling behind in the digital era. The post covers 3 reactions:

  • Frustration with — and even rejection and censure of — the more dominant U.S. position.
  • At the regulatory and policy levels, authorities have doggedly pursued U.S. tech companies.
  • Acknowledgement by the President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, of Europe’s severe digital decline. The EC’s pronouncements signal the beginnings of a “Digital Maastricht Treaty.” The proposal is to create a “Digital Single Market” in the EU.

The story offers Europe 4 take aways:

  1. Harmonizing across the e-commerce value chain.
  2. Reforming immigration policies.
  3. Investing in innovation capacity.
  4. Developing a risk-tolerant culture.

Links and references

It is about how you use technology

You might have read here or on other blogs that SOA isn’t a purpose. It is a means to an end. The same goes for all the technologies that we use when implementing a SOA, or an architecture, or an application in general. So I wanted to share the next video with you since I think that it – in an even broader perspective – shows this point. Technology itself is not good or bad. It all boils down to how we as people use it.


Source: RSA.org 21th century alignment.