The World Bank’s annual Doing Business survey has been described by some as the “World Cup” or “Olympics” for governments competing to make their countries attractive to businesses. The ranking measures how easy it is to do business in a country by examining regulatory environments and is enormously influential: it has inspired more than 3,500 reforms across 190 economies; in 2017-18 alone, 128 economies undertook a record 314 reforms.
While this attention to policy responsiveness is admirable, a key element is missing from rankings such as Doing Business: they say little about the ease or difficulty of doing digital business. We aim to close this gap with the first analysis of the Ease of Doing Digital Business in 42 countries around the world. We picked these countries because they constitute the most significant markets for digital businesses worldwide and offer a consistent set of data across a wide range of indicators. We find that digital business environments require distinctive policy focuses and investments. Our evaluation is intended as a complement to that of the World Bank; it provides decision-makers a basis to compare countries not only in terms of “traditional” business-friendliness but also in terms of factors affecting setting up digital businesses.
While all businesses have elements of digital technology built into them, we define “digital businesses” as ones that have a digital platform as core to its business model. We analyzed four essential digital platforms: ecommerce platforms (e.g. Amazon, eBay); digital media platforms (e.g. YouTube, Netflix); sharing economy platforms (e.g. Uber, Airbnb); and online freelance platforms (e.g. Upwork, Toptal).
See more at Harvard Business Review.