Global Connectivity and the Digital Economy: A Comparative Analysis

I live in the United States. I’m the first to admit that we could probably do a much better job when it comes to thinking globally. When I look at all the media and advertising shoved into our digital and nondigital crevices every day, very little of it has a global feel to me.

Why is that?

Certainly Americans aren’t the self-absorbed, materialistic, Kardashian-worshiping, gun-owning crazies that some people think we are… or are we? I’d like to think it’s simply an issue of geography.

I’ve been blessed to travel the world. Each time I experience a new country, I come home wishing I could get the same sense of global thinking here that I embraced there. Global thinking requires a shift in perspective. It considers the wellbeing of everyone on earth, regardless of where they live on our planet.

If you’ve ever worked on a remote global team, you may know the feeling I’m describing. I’ve experienced that at Post Planner, and it’s a refreshing eye-opening way to work each day. Companies that operate from that global perspective are often forward-thinking in every aspect of their business.

They will lead the way as technology moves us forward into the next generation of digital innovation. Huawei Technologies is an example of one of these companies. As @FacingChina said to me in a recent breakfast meeting, “Instead of getting a bigger piece of the pie, Huawei wants to make a bigger pie.”

Global Connectivity Index (GCI)

Earlier this month, I traveled to Hong Kong and Shenzhen to visit with Huawei. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I came away with that global perspective that I described.

It makes you look at the world differently. It makes you consider that we all have the same basic needs and goals in our lives. And more importantly — if we work together, we can make the planet a better place to live, work and thrive.

Imagine what it would be like if the whole world could connect!

Imagine a world where every human being could connect with every other human being — whether you live in a hut deep in the jungle or a penthouse in NYC. One way to experience this type of global thinking is to unravel Huawei’s 2016 Global Connectivity Index. The data in this report is based on the fact that a solid digital infrastructure provides a firm foundation for economic growth.

This scoring model for this report benchmarks 50 countries based on 5 key technology enablers:

  • Internet of Things (IoT tech)
  • Big Data
  • Cloud Services
  • Data Centers
  • Broadband (coverage and speed)

(Image Credit: Huawei)

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Click over to the GCI Methodology to get the full spectrum of measurements for this report.

(Image Credit: Huawei)

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Let’s Pause to Grasp What This Means

This report basically measures the digital transformation (using information and communications technology) happening in the world right now. Some countries are lightyears ahead of others of course. You might feel this if you travel to a country without high speed Internet, or even a place where your WhatsApp won’t connect.

I experienced this when I was in Venice last summer. There were signs outside restaurants that read “we have high speed Internet” — but it felt more like Internet speed circa 2001 to me. There are no shortcuts on this digital transformation journey. Each country has to experience the connectivity journey on their own, in their own time. And it’s a fascinating and different experience for each country. For some it’s easier than others — but every time a country makes progress, it helps the greater good in terms of global GDP.

outside-huawei-office-shenzhen-gardener-china-sun-hat-overall-garden-work-labor(Outside Huawei Office in Shenzhen, China)

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So Where Does Your Country Rank?

It’s easy to see where your country ranks. Click over to How Does Your Country Rank, scroll mid-way down the page, and find your country in the dropdown menu. You can even compare your country with others on the list. Huawei took the 50 countries that account for 90% of the global GDP and ranked them with their sophisticated algorithm.

According to Huawei:

“The GCI (Global Connectivity Index) is a unique quantitative assessment that comprehensively and objectively evaluates connectivity from both a national and industrial perspective.”

Huawei put each of the 50 countries into 1 of 3 categories:

  • Starters – These are countries in the very early stages of ICT (information and communications technology) buildout.
  • Adopters – These are countries that are seeing the biggest growth. They are focused on ICT, and they are paving the way for high-quality economic growth.
  • Frontrunners – These are the sophisticated countries that are innovating every day. They are using ICT to develop a smarter, more efficient society.

(Image Credit: Huawei)

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The United States ranks number 1 out of the 50. It’s no surprise since the LTE networks in the States are the best in the world. It also explains why many Americans think Internet connectivity is more important than sleep — and why we freak out if Twitter is down for 5 minutes.

Hey, I’m one of those people, so I get it.

(See where your country ranks here)

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Final Thoughts

My heart sings at the intersection of tech and physics — and this report sent me down a rabbit hole of exploration. I could make an entire career out of studying this annual data from Huawei. I had the luxury of sitting in a beautiful boardroom in Shenzhen for an hour to learn about this report.

Inside Huawei Boardroom Big Meeting Room China GCI Presentation(Inside Huawei boardroom at GCI Presentation)

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When it was over, I took a quick trip to the ladies room. While I was washing my hands, the person who gave the presentation walked in. She looked at me shyly and asked how they could improve this report to make it better and more appealing.

In that moment, I knew she had no idea how profound her data is and the impact it could have on people if they could access it. Julia and her team taught me how to think more globally. And for that, I’m forever grateful. I only have 1 piece of info that I might dig deeper into if I were more involved with this project. And that is…

Correlation does not always equal causation. Or, in this case, imply that it’s the only causation.

If you click over to tylervigen.com, you’ll see what I mean.

(Image Credit: Spurious Correlations)

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There are lots of things that are correlated — but that’s not to be confused with absolute causation. Sure, there is definitely a correlation between a country’s stronger digital infrastructure and their economic growth.

But could there be more at stake here? Could there be more relevant factors to consider when determining what causes a country’s strong economic growth? Just thinking about that question blows my mind. It takes me on a whirlwind of what-ifs that could keep me busy for a decade.

Thank you, Huawei for all the inspiration and work you put into this report. I look forward to reading next year’s report and seeing the progress we’ve all made throughout 2016. I hope the online tech community embraces this info as much as I have.

diana-adams-last-picture-shenzhen-china-crop

(Image Credit: Diana Adams)

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If you’re ready to dive into your own journey of discovery on this topic, just click over to Global Connectivity Index where you’ll see the links for all the details. Have fun! If you want to talk about this more, just tweet me at @adamsconsulting.

Photo credit: Diana Adams / Huawei / Huang Huohan
Editorial notice: This post has been sponsored.

  • dianaadams

    China was great! I loved everything about it… the people, the food and all the great places to shop! 🙂