Southeast Asian digital nations slide in the Global Innovation Index 2021
Published 9 March 2021
Even as digital adoption is increasing in Southeast Asia, countries seem to not find favour, in terms of rankings.
According to the latest Top 50 Global Innovation Index, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia have seen significant drops in the ranking of Top 50 Digital Nations, according to Tholons, Inc., a global strategic consulting, digital innovation, and investment advisory group.
The annual “Tholons Global Innovation Index 2021 TM” (TGII) is its flagship research report and ranking of the Top 50 “Digital Nations” and Top 100 “Super Cities” in the world. The consultancy firm assesses countries in terms of innovation and digital capacity; the number of cities of the country that feature in the Top 100; the size of workforce population; and diversity and inclusion, which measures women’s equality in terms of pay gap, leadership role and funding made available.
The United States has managed to win back the first spot of India last year, followed by Canada, Germany, and Singapore.
“Untapped power of women entrepreneurship, engagement and empowerment is leading the way like never before,” said Ankita Vashistha, CEO of Tholons, highlighting the incorporation of this new indicator into the assessment, with Norway, Finland, and Ireland achieving the highest evaluation.
Asia: Not so bright
Overall, the picture looks most dreary in Southeast Asia, while it showcases a brighter future in Europe.
The Philippines, for example, drops out of the top 10 to 18th in the list of countries, after seeing a remarkable decline by 95% in the workforce population, which happens in nearly every country amid the pandemic. The decrease illustrates a lack of talent pool to be skilled or re-skilled to serve cross industries in services.
“Organisations will need more active engagement strategies, if they want to thrive and succeed,” Tholons said in the report.
The worst performer is Indonesia, which slumps 30 positions, in contrast to Germany, which advances more than 30 places to the fourth spot, joining the top ten together with new entrants such as Australia, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden.
Other Southeast Asian nations also saw their rankings slide on the list, namely Malaysia (33rd from 26th), Thailand (35th from 27th), and Indonesia (50th from 20th).
Regarding cities with the best performances in talent pool, business catalyst, cost and infrastructure, risk and quality of life, and digital and innovation, Toronto emerges as the No.1 super city. At the same time, Bangalore retreated from its 15-year-long position in the top to the third place, behind Singapore (second from ninth), and ahead of San Francisco (fourth from 30th), and Dublin (still fifth) .
There are 13 cities that have shown exemplary movement in embracing digital and being relevant to the globalisation of innovation, including Copenhagen (Denmark), Busan, Incheon (South Korea), Helsinki (Finland), Adelaide, Brisbane (Australia), Penang (Malaysia), Riga (Latvia), Auckland (New Zealand), Rotterdam (Netherlands), Vilnius (Lithuania), Wroclaw (Poland), and Oslo (Norway), making in the Top 100 Super Cities.
Other super cities in Southeast Asia included Kuala Lumpur (17th from 18th), Hanoi (50th from 31st), Bangkok (51st from 79th), Ho Chi Minh (58th from 39th), Penang (77th from 88th), and Jakarta (85th from 52nd).
This year, Tholons increased its emphasis on digital factors in the index to 40 per cent from 25 per cent last year, when it attributed traditional elements with 75 per cent weightage. Parameters such as startup ecosystem and digital transformation are vital components, in combination with new factors like cybersecurity, digital skills, scale, and global competitiveness.
“Leading businesses are adopting ‘human-AI’ collaboration. As social distancing becomes the norm, in many industries, robots are transitioning faster than expected from regulated environments to unregulated environments. Corporations and governments are looking for more and newer ‘contact-less’ solutions,” the report added.