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The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated mass digital adoption and expedited tech adoption across industries, advancing digital transformation at an unprecedented speed and scale. At the same time, the pandemic has widened and deepened the digital divide between and within countries, reinforcing a vicious cycleof economic inequalities.

As the benefits of digital transformation are not equally distributed, the widening digital gap between businesses and industries is magnified at country levels, worsening global development gaps and imbalances. Thus, there is an urgent need to create a country-level analytical model that goes beyond business-level analysis to understand the current digital transformation landscape and diagnose existing digital transformation gaps among member States of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). 

This working paper discusses a study that reviewed existing ICT-related analytical frameworks and indicators, and proposed 105 indicators used by international organizations to formulate a digital transformation framework and Digital Transformation Index (DTI version 1) to measure and analyse the status of country-level digital transformation. 

Based on an in-depth pilot analysis of the DTI results, the study found that the Asia-Pacific region is the most digitally divided among five regions, showing the conspicuous digital transformation divides within and among the regions. The study also revealed the critical role of the government and business sectors in initiating and enhancing digital innovations.

This working paper suggests that the ESCAP member States take a more active role in narrowing the digital transformation gaps between advanced countries and late comers to achieve an inclusive digital future.

 

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Information and Communications Technology and Disaster Risk Reduction Division [email protected]