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Socioeconomic research

A key input to our social investment strategy is Cisco’s original research. This is conducted in partnership with leading research and advisory companies and world-renowned academic institutions.

We believe that our research can contribute to the dialogue about technology’s future impact. We want to understand what the digital revolution can bring and how Cisco can make strategic investments to help individuals thrive. Our bespoke research also supports the relevance of our investment focus areas, such as Cisco Networking Academy, crisis response, education, economic empowerment, and climate. It also helps governments, universities, educators, and nonprofit leaders set the direction for social investments and program development.

We engage in research and also share our findings at forums including the World Economic Forum (WEF), International Society for Technology in Education, Cisco Live, Cisco Networking Academy conferences, and other venues.

Thought leadership

The Cisco Digital Readiness Index (DRI) examines what it means to be digitally ready and how best to help individuals and countries thrive in a digital world. We created a holistic framework and measurement model to uncover key insights and build our understanding of what it means for a country to be digitally ready.

Digital readiness is measured using seven holistic components:

  • Basic needs. Basic human needs for a population to survive and thrive
  • Business and government investment. Private and public investment in innovation and technology
  • Ease of doing business. Basic infrastructure/policies needed to support business continuity
  • Human capital. Skilled labor force to support digital innovation (build and maintain)
  • Startup environment. Environment that fosters innovation within a community
  • Technology adoption. Demand for digital products/services
  • Technology infrastructure. Infrastructure available to enable digital activities and connected consumers (Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud)

Understanding a country’s digital readiness can help give insight to which specific investments or interventions could help a country move up in their digital journey. Three stages of digital readiness emerged based on our research. “Activate” is the lowest stage of digital readiness, “Accelerate” is the middle stage, and “Amplify” is the highest. To better understand country needs, the Accelerate stage was further divided into two sub-stages, "Accelerate Low" and "Accelerate High".

Countries with higher digital readiness have higher levels of gross domestic product per capita and tend to be more productive and prosperous, as measured against the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index. Countries with higher digital readiness also tend to have a healthier natural environment and vital ecosystem as measured against Yale’s Environmental Performance Index.

Digital Readiness scores reveal which countries are most digitally ready and which are less so, presenting opportunities for local government, industry, educational institutions, and community organizations to work together to help create an inclusive digital economy.

The digital readiness framework can also be applied to states, territories, and/or regions within a country. Subnational-level studies were conducted throughout fiscal 2020 to aid strategy and decisions. In November of 2022 the third iteration of Cisco Australian DRI was released. Australia ranked highly in the global study, but there are differences in how well its states and territories are positioned to participate in a digital future. This study builds upon the first analysis of Australian states and territories that was conducted in 2018.

In June 2023, the Cisco Canada DRI 2023 was released. This is the first provincial/territorial-level DRI study for Canada to explore how ready each province or territory is to reap the benefits of future digitization.

This study reveals opportunities for government, industry, education, and community organizations to increase digital readiness, as well as serving as a benchmark to measure improvements.