The recent IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking again confirms Switzerland’s digital competitiveness. Ranking 6th is an outstanding achievement, but the country has also dropped one place compared to last year.

Switzerland is still one of the world’s top locations in digital competitiveness, according to the latest World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2020. The IMD (Institute for Management Development in Lausanne) World Digital Competitiveness Ranking is an annual ranking based on indicators that focus on education, technology, and the level of future-readiness. Switzerland ranks 6th among 63 high- and medium-income countries, after Hong Kong, Sweden, Denmark, Singapore, and the United States.

Marc Walder, founder of the initiative digitalswitzerland, comments, “Together with IMD and EPFL, digitalswitzerland’s approach is to unite the main digital players in Switzerland to prepare our country for the upcoming challenges of digitalization. Today’s published IMD ranking on digital competitiveness is a great indicator to show the progress we have made in Switzerland and, at the same time, remind us how much work still lies ahead.”

Where Switzerland shines, and where it doesn’t

Switzerland excelled in different categories. In the knowledge category, Switzerland demonstrated the ability to attract top talents. However, the country lacks behind in the ratio of female researchers and R&D productivity by publication.

In the technology category, the progressive stance of Swiss legislators and the country’s financial stability has helped to promote scientific research. According to the IMD ranking, the country is not as good as others in terms of the conditions for setting up and promoting startups.

In the category “future-readiness,” Switzerland’s strength lies in knowledge transfer while lacking in eParticipation.

“In Switzerland, we see an economy that is really holding its own, outperforming many bigger ones,” says IMD Professor Arturo Bris. “Its results in terms of Talent are excellent, which only feeds the country’s digital technology skills.”

Great ranking, but worse than 2019

While ranking 6th is an achievement, the country has dropped one place compared to the 2019 ranking.  Martin Vetterli, the president of EPFL, one of the Swiss higher education institutions, reminds, “the most interesting thing with such rankings is to focus on the areas where we still need to improve.”

“We should not obsess about technology but about problems that require different types of investments and innovative solutions across the economy,” says University College London professor Mariana Mazzucato. “After all, that is where the Internet came from. With such outcome-based thinking, the public sector is a key investor on both the supply side and the demand side.”

She has a point. Too often, there is too much buzz about a particular technology and too little focus on solving problems. One prime example is blockchain technology, which has often been described as a solution searching for a problem. The technology is undoubtedly providing solutions for many challenges, but it’s not the holy grail of technological development.

This ranking’s message is: Switzerland is, without any doubt, a top-notch location in terms of digital competitiveness. However, there is no reason to sit back and enjoy the show. Others are catching up quickly, and both the Swiss government and private companies need to rigorously push their digital agendas to compete in an increasingly crowded international market.

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