As an undergraduate in Canada I attended a university that did not offer an engineering programme; instead it had a Faculty of Applied Sciences, which did teach engineering but instilled a different philosophy as to how the sciences can be used. It made me realize that “engineering” is nothing more than the application of science for the benefit of society and the environment.

When we look at digital infrastructure, information-communication technologies or the increasing capacity of technical networks, it's apparent that a similar philosophy could be fostered by today's global leaders. Such technological investments are underused and wasted if not applied to create value to industry, the environment and most importantly, to society.

Over the past two years, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media has taken the definition of a nation’s readiness to adopt and embrace progress and applied it to the industries of media, entertainment and information (also known as the MEI industries), creating a framework to be used for assessing digital-media readiness.

Image: The Digital Media Readiness Framework whitepaper

Digital-media readiness essentially builds on technological or networked readiness (outlined in the Global Information Technology Report) and applies it to the MEI industries. This allows related content, products, services and other applications, such as education, to develop and flourish for the benefit of society. Benefits include a more informed society, a healthy creative economy and sustainable business models and practices; however, digital-media readiness is not just about applying infrastructure and digital connectivity: there are numerous environmental factors, such as business, legal, educational and cultural variables, to consider as well as usage and capacity-related aspects, such as accessibility, affordability, individual skills development and utilization.

How can we measure digital-media readiness?

The Digital Media Readiness Framework has identified 23 main indicators that can measure the level of adoption and usage of digital media content, products and services. But not all indicators carry the same importance, impact and weight in determining the health of a nation’s media, entertainment and information industries. This figure provides a map of how each indicator relates to the others, where those closer to the centre are of higher importance to digital-media readiness.

3 indicators stand out

1. Internet infrastructure, fixed and mobile, is an essential foundation of a vibrant digital MEI market. Without seamless and high-performing connectivity, a community’s access to, use of and ability to leverage media industries would be very limited.

2. Fair involvement, which means (i) an enabled environment for independent (non-state-owned or non-monopolistic) media, (ii) promotion, encouragement and support of local MEI initiatives, and (iii) ensuring citizen and industry freedom, safety and security.

3. Access to appropriate technology and hardware at an affordable price, including the availability of devices to access and consume content and MEI services, and other supporting technological services necessary to benefit from all the innovations that digital media can provide.

What’s next for the DMR framework?

The Forum plans to support any community, city or nation wishing to apply the Digital Media Readiness Framework with the purpose of stimulating local growth in the media, entertainment and information industries and in improving the quality of life for their citizens. Additionally, the Forum also aims to encourage others to develop the framework further by (i) adding new or improving existing indicators that can be used to measure digital media readiness, and (ii) providing methodologies for measuring each indicator through their metrics.

The Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media would like to see its framework turn into an annual index that is used to measure every nation’s capacity to embrace all of the benefits that the media, entertainment and information industries can bring.

Ultimately, the fate of the digital-media readiness framework rests on its effective application because without the right application, no technology or innovation will ever improve the state of the world.