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Australia reclaims digital rank, but marked down for cyber security


The government should do more to help small businesses adopt technology, says CPA Australia.

By Josh Needs 12 minute read

Australia has improved its digital competitiveness for the first time since the pandemic, according to world rankings by the Institute for Management Development (IMD). 

However, the report marked Australia down for cyber security and future-readiness, which is its “Achilles heel”.  

On competitiveness alone, Australia has risen from its lowest position in over five years, 20th, up to 14th — the position it held in 2019 before the pandemic. 


Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) chief economist Jarrod Ball said Australia’s bounce back was impressive but it still had a long way to go. 

“Australia has regained the ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Ball. “Yet Australia’s Achilles heel is its future readiness which underpins a country’s ability to take advantage of emerging technologies, sustaining its digital competitiveness over time to keep pace with the most digitally competitive nations.

“Our future readiness is held back in the rankings by factors such as business agility, entrepreneurial risk-taking and cyber security preparedness.

“More broadly, the rankings show that Australia must invest in training and international talent to improve digital knowledge across the economy.” 

Australian weak spots included ranking 44th for employee training, 49th for international experience and a lowly 52nd for science graduates from a pool of 63 nations. 

The sunburnt country also found itself 31st for cyber security and 38th for government cyber security capacity with fallout from the Optus hack still haunting millions of customers.

“An advanced economy like Australia should be performing better at cyber security on the global stage,” said Jane Rennie, general manager of media and content at CPA Australia.

Dr Rennie called on the government to increase spending to help businesses achieve greater digital capability.

“Australian small businesses are being left behind on the international stage when it comes to digital capability. They need support to increase their technology capabilities, including cyber security,” said Dr Rennie. 

“CPA Australia research shows that Australian small businesses are some of the least digitally capable in the Asia-Pacific, and it’s having a detrimental effect on their growth.

“There are some state and federal government funded programs in Australia to support small businesses [to] improve their digital capability but these are far less ambitious than what is available overseas. One Singaporean program aimed at driving business digitalisation is worth $259 million.” 

The World Competitiveness Centre, which publishes the rankings, said they revealed the value nations placed on digital adoption. 

“This ranking describes the importance of national factors in explaining the digital transformation of companies and the adoption of digital practices by citizens,” director Arturo Bris said. “Digital nations result from a combination of digital talent, digital regulation, data governance, digital attitudes and the availability of capital.

“The regions of ex-CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and Southern Asia and the Pacific present relevant gaps between the extent of e-government tools and the cybersecurity capacities of their governments.

“This suggests that governments in these regions might be misallocating part of their resources by building comprehensive technological solutions for their citizens whilst simultaneously overlooking the security of their digital infrastructure.”

The rankings quantified the capacities of 63 global economies to adopt and explore new digital technologies and to use them to improve government practices, business models, and society. 

The world digital competitiveness ranking is produced by the World Competitiveness Centre, a research unit at IMD of which CEDA is the Australian partner.

Josh Needs

Josh Needs


Josh Needs is a journalist at Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, which are the leading sources of news, strategy, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Josh studied journalism at the University of NSW and previously wrote news, feature articles and video reviews for Unsealed 4x4, a specialist offroad motoring website. Since joining the Momentum Media Team in 2022, Josh has written for Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser.

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