BSA: US retains top ranking in IT environment

India and Malaysia make large leaps in the trade group's IT Industry Competitiveness Index

The U.S. continues to be the country with the best environment for IT companies, but Malaysia and India made significant advances in the Business Software Alliance's new IT Industry Competitiveness Index, released Tuesday.

Despite frequent complaints about a stagnant U.S. economy, the U.S maintained its No. 1 ranking in the study of IT environments in 66 nations and actually increased its lead over Finland, in the No. 2 position, said Matthew Reid, BSA's vice president of communications. "Years of investment" by the leading companies in the index have allowed the top countries to retain their positions, he said.

"It's a steady stream of concerning statistics and reports, but this is actually the opposite," Reid said. "The U.S. remains No. 1 in this index, in terms of building a really strong IT ecosystem. This is a bright spot in the U.S. economy."

However, there are new IT powerhouses emerging, he added. "The idea that there are going to be IT superpowers in the future -- it's going to be plural," he said. "The U.S. is not going to be alone for long."

Following the U.S. in overall rankings are Finland, Singapore, Sweden, the U.K., Denmark and Canada. Ireland and Australia are tied for eighth, and the Netherlands and Israel are tied for 10th.

Several countries are making large investments in growing their IT industries, Reid said. Malaysia moved up 11 spots in the ranking to No. 31, and India moved up 10 spots to No. 34. Singapore, now No. 3, moved up six spots, Germany moved from No. 20 to 15, and Poland moved up five spots to No. 30. China, with concerns over support for research and development and over intellectual property protection, rose one spot to No. 38.

On the flip side, Lithuania fell 10 spots to No. 41, and Russia fell eight spots to No. 46.

The index, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, ranks the 66 counties on a series of indicators tied to IT innovation: overall business environment, IT infrastructure, human capital, research and development, legal environment, and public support for industry development. This is the fourth year the BSA, a trade group, has published the report.

The index measures both government and private-sector support for IT, Reid said. "The secret to success isn't really a secret," he said. "There are some basic, fundamental that are needed for countries to be competitive."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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