What’s in a ranking? Well, that depends who you ask, and how near the top of the list they sit. Universities, for example, have an especially strong love/hate relationship with rankings. Those that struggle to break into the upper echelons of global higher-education rankings spend a great deal of time talking about how academic quality is impossible to measure and grumbling that the rankings are inaccurate and unfair. Almost as much time as the ones who score highly spend talking about how important rankings are and crowing about their positions.
Because it is weighted so heavily in hard numbers and macroeconomic indicators, economic competitiveness lends itself perfectly to rankings, which is why there are so many of them out there. This market choice has the result that every ranking consumer can choose the one that best ‘proves’ his particular (usually political) point. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (see page 94) for this year shows the US falling dramatically out of the top five; the most recent Deloitte Competitiveness Index, released in late 2005, ranks the US first.
In the assumption that the truth is always somewhere in the middle, it seems that the fairest measure is an average of all the various rankings. With this in mind, fDi set out to determine the countries with the strongest information and communications technology sectors, by combining 20 existing indices, rankings and sets of data. It appears the best all-around ICT performer is Denmark, or at least as far as we can tell.
If there is one thing analysts love more than rankings, it is a race. In economic development terms, the Great Race of the present time is that between China and India. Conventional wisdom is that China is ahead, but India is pacing itself better and may win the marathon. Are rankings any help in picking a winner? In fDi’s ICT power rankings, China and India tied. Make of that what you will.