I like to organize part of my life around Cloud Expo, coming up again in New York June 10-13. One new tradition is to published our updated Tau Index results at the event. We will be doing this in New York again this year.
We published our original Tau Index results in conjunction with Cloud Expo’s Fall 2010 Silicon Valley event.
The Tau Index takes a relative look at national ICT commitments throughout the world. Our original algorithm relied significantly on World Bank statistics regarding ICT spending, leavened by income disparity and cost of living. The idea was that high income disparity blunts the benefits of technology spending, but a low cost of living multiplies it as technology costs a similar amount everywhere.
How We Started
Our first results showed developing nations topping the list. Bangladesh was our leader, followed by Morocco, Ukraine, Egypt, Hungary, Malaysia, Bulgaria, Senegal, Czech Republic, and Vietnam rounding out the Top 10.
Our Top 25 also included (in this order) South Korea, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Thailand, India, Honduras, Slovakia, South Africa, Kenya, Philippines, Tunisia, Iran, and Russia.
The United States finished 46th out of 73 countries surveyed.
We had a subsequent discussion with the World Bank, which decided it would not be using the same source in the future, and in fact wouldn’t be listing ICT expenditures at all. We’re using the term ICT rather than IT, by the way, as it’s in common use in most of the world outside of the US, and because it includes telco.
Telco does still include “plain old telephone service” (POTS) – and in fact my local telco rep used that very term this week in describing options for our upgraded Tau Institute offices in Northwest Illinois. But all the exciting, dynamic stuff with IT is happening in conjunction telecommunications, cable, and satellite companies. Increasingly, the medium is the message in the world of ICT.
Our original research came from my observations as a really lucky guy who’s been able to see large parts of the world. There’s palpable energy on the streets of most Asian countries, for example, more so than dry statistics about income levels and economic growth can indicate. There’s a certain dynamism throughout what most Americans call Eastern Europe, as a variety of nations continue to fight, 20+ years on, through the ravages of their Soviet legacy. There’s new hope springing up in numerous places in vast, vast Africa.
The question arose, “how can we measure and convey this dynamism?”
There are also numerous developed nations that are outshining their regional and economic peers. Our initial results skewed so heavily toward developing nations, we decided we needed to take a renewed look at our algorithms.
Today, we’re up to 102 countries in our analysis. We focus more heavily on bandwidth, Internet access, server installations, and overall economic development than we did originally. Our process still adjusts significantly for income disparity and cost-of-living, but also takes into account factors such as the perception of corruption.
South Korea Rising
Thus, our revised, refined rankings show developed countries faring much better, and South Korea earning what we think is its rightful place at the top of the rankings. We have also created a second, “raw” index that takes less account of social factors and which thus favors many of the developing nations that fared so well in our initial rankings.
We don’t take into account specific government policies or initiatives. We believe that these are a function of the overall dynamism of a country’s ICT activity. But we’re keeping our eye on whether this area should be integrated into our process some day.
We also don’t take into account types of government. Without getting into a political argument, we’ve seen no correlation between the type of government and our rankings – with the obvious exception of a few pariah-state totalitarian dictatorships. (They wouldn’t do well if we could measure them.)
Our current rankings, which I’ve written about extensively, are broken into overall and raw tables, as well as rankings in both categories by region and income tier.
A quick review of the current Top 10 shows South Korea, Estonia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Vietnam, United Kingdom, and Lithuania. Our raw Top 10 includes Vietnam, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Romania, and Morocco.
The United States continues to languish, currently residing in 34th place in the overall rankings.
We do not wish to understate the serious nature of problems facing many of these countries. We also don’t view our research as an engineering project – it’s far more important to look at specific groups of countries rather than overthink what can be minute differences between countries listed next to one another in our rankings.
We believe in peaceful solutions to all problems, hope our small voice can be heard by global leaders, and wish to start as many conversations as possible. We’ve already engaged with people in a couple dozen of countries, but wish to expand by at least a magnitude in the next 12 months. Our updated rankings and commentaries will be announced at Cloud Expo.