The United States Country Report: The Use and Impact of ICT

The United States is the world leader in a number of fronts. However, whether the same argument can be advanced regarding its position on information technology (IT) is debatable. Regardless of the position held by an assessor, it is evident that the country has played a significant role in the advancement of information and communication technology (ICT). In light of the above, the present paper compiles a report pertaining to the country’s connection with ICT.

General Background

Currently, the world faces the concern of ensuring that there is equity in growth and the distribution of benefits across populations. It remains surprising that even advanced economies are yet to attain the objective of equitable resource distribution. In particular, rising inequalities and high unemployment rates are some of the issues that the world has to address. Developing countries are even in a more difficult situation with regard to the above problems. In view of the above, it seems necessary that the countries and the United States, in particular, should readjust or review their development frameworks to respond to the emerging concern adequately.

Profiling the United States is necessary to understand the country and its general background. Formerly, the United States was a colony of Britain. The country won its independence in 1776, leading to its recognition as the United States of America (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2016). Initially, the country comprised 13 states. However, it expanded to the North by incorporating 37 other states (CIA, 2016). In addition, the newly independent state acquired vast additional foreign possessions. Despite its unparalleled success, the nation has faced dark moments such as the Civil War and the Great Depression (CIA, 2016). Nevertheless, based on its historical exploits, the country remains the world’s most revered power.

Type of Government

First, understanding the type of the government requires an examination of the system of government of the country. The United States is viewed as a democracy (CIA, 2016). In such a government, citizens enjoy numerous freedoms such as the freedom of religion or the freedom of opinion. Further, by taking into consideration the form of the government, it can be stated that the United States is a republic (CIA, 2016). As a constitutional republic, the country operates as a limited commercial federal democracy. The federation is popularly viewed as a union of states with a central government, although they retain given individual functions.

In general, the United States is the worlds’ biggest federation since it consists of a significant number of states, namely 50 states and one district (CIA, 2016). The term commercial relates to the character of the state, which is based on the protection of business or national interests of the country (CIA, 2016). The federation terminology also alludes to the idea that the sovereign power of the country rests on its people. Although democracy largely borders on state governance, the aspect of social democracy is also critical. In particular, the country aligns with the latter concept in affirming that all men and women are created equal, that no individual is better than another, and that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.” Thus, it is observed that the United States is a constitutional republic that is based on the principle of equality.

Economic, Political, and Regulatory Environment

Based on the Global Information Technology Report, the United States is ranked seventh globally in terms of the Networked Readiness Index (NRI), with a score of 5.6 (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2015). The country did not show improvement since its position remained the same as the one in 2014. The environmental sub-index gives details about the political and regulatory, as well as the business and innovation environments. The United States performs dismally in terms of the former attribute, given that it is ranked at position 21 with a score of 5.0.

Both the readiness and impact sub-indexes are also relevant in understanding the economic environment of the state. Under the former, aspects of infrastructure and affordability are rated. Regarding infrastructure, the United States performs fairly well based on its score of 7.0 and the 4th rank globally. However, the country registers poor performance with regard to affordability since it occupies position 53 with a score of 5.6. Concerning economic outcomes, the Global Information Technology Report demonstrates that the country is ahead of many competitors as it is ranked seventh (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2015). However, the score of 5.6 demonstrates that more needs to be done to improve the variable. Although the score of the social impact of technology is the same, the country is ranked position 11. Thus, the above observation concerns the latter aspect, as well.

Despite the above rating, the CIA (2016) observed that, technologically, the U.S. economy is the most powerful. Further, the CIA (2016) concedes that although the United States dominated the global economy in the contemporary times, its position has faced intense competition from China with the latter overtaking it in 2014 based on purchasing power parity.

Delving deeper into the political and regulatory environment necessitates a review of attributes such as the effectiveness of lawmaking organs, laws on ICT, independence of the judiciary, the efficiency of the legal system, protection of intellectual property, procedures in law enforcement, and software piracy. Among various attributes of political and regulatory concerns, the country only performs excellently managing software piracy based on its score of 18 and 1st rank. It is disappointing that the United States ranks between position 13 and 55 in other key aspects of the political and regulatory pillar. In particular, the country occupies position seven in laws relating to IT and position 55 in the effectiveness of its laws making organs.

In practice, any position in the top ten countries is a positive performance. However, it is interesting that in the Global Information Technology Report 2012, the United States failed to be in the top three in any of the four indicators, as well. However, in 2012, the country boasted of a generally supportive environment for the advancement of ICT. Questions arise based on the position 21 in the political and regulatory environment, as this shows the presence of impediments. However, the business and innovation environment was ranked position nine. In the NRI overall ranking of 2012, the United States was ranked position eight (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2012). Although the country has improved to position seven, the improvement is not significant.

Statistics on Human and Industry Development

Regarding the human aspect of development, as it pertains to technology, it is noted that the rush for technology has been a major driving factor. However, the development of technology has seen the rise of a two-level labor market where low ranked personnel lacks the knowledge and skills while those at the top are experts who earn huge salaries. According to the United Nations Development Programme (2015), the United States falls into the category of the developed countries as illustrated in the appendix.

The advanced industrial sector in the United States remains a major contributor to the economy. By 2013, the country’s top fifty countries employed roughly 12 million people (World Bank, 2014). The figure represents about 9% of the country’s total employment. Despite the modest employment statistics, the top industries generated up to 2.7 trillion dollars in terms of value added per year (World Bank, 2014). The figure accounted for 17% of the country’s domestic product (GDP).

Based on the statistics from the United Nations, the United States is ranked top in terms of the possession of the most advanced ICT industry globally. Over 25% of the $3.75 trillion global IT markets are found in the United States (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2015). In addition, the sector accounts for approximately 7% of the country’s GDP and 12% of private-sector employment (Bilbao-Osorio, Dutta, & Lanvin, 2013). The presence of more than 100,000 software and IT service companies is a testament to the progress in the industry (Bilbao-Osorio et al., 2013). Further, approximately 99% of the players are small and medium-size firms, employing fewer than 500 employees. The list of such entities includes software publishers, custom computer programming services suppliers, designers of computer systems, and facility management firms. The sector benefits from a highly skilled and educated U.S. workforce that comprises more than two million individuals, a number that continues to expand.

Status of IT

The advancement in IT is evident not only in the United States but also across all countries. IT-based education, improvements in telecommunication infrastructure, development of computer hardware and software, overall computer use, and the role of IT in the U.S. economy, as well as the spread of the Internet, continue to expand.

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The ICT status highlights a convergence. The major implications of IT include increased employee productivity given the role of ICT infrastructure in enhancing work capabilities (Bilbao-Osorio et al., 2013). In this regard, reference is made to the role of technology in boosting efficiency through collaboration and close associations among workers. In addition, technology has reduced the use of physical resources and replaced them with tools such as video conferencing, which are relatively affordable.

The education, medical, finance, and government industries are among those that use and are affected by the advances in technology. For governments, it is now possible to construct safer cities because of the presence of sophisticated monitoring devices and big data use. On the part of the education sector, it is possible to improve access to education via technological systems. The CIA (2016) also indicates that the U.S. technology firms are in the forefront in terms of the computer use. Despite the advancement, the country has fallen behind European states.

The Impact of IT on Economy, Human Development, and Society

The advancement in technology has ushered in the digital age. Such an era comes with many opportunities for exploitation. However, caution should be exercised owing to the dangers that are linked to the development. For example, it is acknowledged that threats such as online fraud persist. Internet fraudsters range from identity to personal data thieves. Thus, there is a need for stakeholders to take protective measures to enhance security if the gains associated with advances in IT are to be realized.

Regardless of numerous concerns, IT has led to many advantages. One of the obvious contributions is its role in enhancing entrepreneurship (Bilbao-Osorio et al., 2013). Unlike in the past where business required huge capital outlays, the advent of digital technology has lowered significantly the need for such funds. It is not possible for young persons and the marginalized to leverage their technological knowledge to engage in productive ventures. Through the Internet technology, individuals and businesses can reach a wider market and compete with big established business organizations. In this regard, reference is made to the role of ICT in enhancing e-commerce. Popularly known as electronic commerce, e-commerce is a form of business that takes place entirely across online platforms. Such systems eliminate the need for physical offices and allow traders to perform virtual exchanges. As a result, businesses are in a position to benefit from reduced trading costs. In addition, the online platform facilitates cheaper advertising, thus eliminating the need for huge funds to run advertisements. 

As a diverse country, the United States stands a position to gain from advances in IT significantly. The main gain will emanate from trading online, which is possible because of the cost and ease of the use of the platform. One should also note that the possibility of learning via online platforms has become real because of the expansion of information and communication technologies, thus influencing human development. Learning of this nature involves both formal and informal avenues. Regardless of the form of learning, the bottom-line is that the distance between learning centers and students has been significantly reduced. Thus, it has become cheaper to gain knowledge that can be applied in endeavors to improve the quality of human life.

Given the availability of information across online platforms, it is also possible to learn about various aspects pertaining to business or expertise, which aligns with the need to develop entrepreneurship skills globally. Unlike the past when information was difficult to collect and comprehend, nowadays, it is easier to access broad information on a number of topics and learn. Such a state ensures that the U.S. society benefits because of an increase in the number of informed people.

Future Possibilities on the Use and Impact of IT, Constraints, and Hurdles

Exploiting IT to ensure total or full benefit remains the objective of many jurisdictions. Although in some regions, such as the developed countries, advances to that end have been made, many challenges and impediments continue to hamper similar efforts in the developing and poor countries of the world. Thus, it is apparent that for the society to gain fully from technological expansion, overcoming various hurdles is mandatory.

It is anticipated that, in the future, expansion of ICT will continue. Such a trend will contribute to the opening of all areas of the global community, leading to additional opportunities for all people. However, if the expansion is to benefit every person, there is a need to encourage equitable distribution and access to resources. A failure to enhance equity would deny some people the chance to fully utilize the advances made in technology.

Further, it would be advisable to enhance the development of security measures required to protect individuals who use the Internet. As previously observed, advances in ICT also come with threats. In this regard, there is a need to seal the loopholes that cyber criminals rely on to defraud vulnerable users of the Internet. Through ensuring security, more people will be persuaded to take part in online activities, leading to the full exploitation of the infrastructure.

Advancement in technology promises the enhancement of connectivity. However, such a development might come at a cost, especially pertaining to hyperconnectivity that highlights the expansion in access to and extensive assimilation of communication methods (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2012). Besides the reference to communication means, hyperconnectivity also focuses on the impact that accompanies the increase in the accessibility and use of the ICT infrastructure. In addition, the development also poses ramifications on both personal and organizational conduct.

Hyperconnectivity is linked to the combination of the spread of broadband, increase in mobile devices, wireless technology, the dominance of social media, use of cloud data storage, and related developments. Hyperconnectivity extends beyond people connectivity as individuals encapsulate communal linkages. In addition, the interaction between people and machines is bound to increase as the number of mobile devices increases. It is expected that in the years to come, the possibility of more functions being ceded to machines would increase. In other words, the development of technology is likely to lower the need for human involvement in a number of areas.

The paper supports the argument of the hyperconnectivity position based on previous results from increased ICT integration across the society. Within a short time, the phenomenon has had notable ramifications on communities. Among institutions, hyperconnectivity has influenced the nature of work, missions, and functions. In particular, the phenomenon has led to the disappearance of boundaries associated with time and space. The role relates to the effect of increased connectivity in bringing people closer, irrespective of their physical positions in the world.

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The impact of hyperconnectivity has also been seen in the rise of neo-urbanization. In this regard, reference is made to the role that the Internet has played in a bid to decrease the space between urban and rural communities (The World Economic Forum and INSEAD, 2012). In addition, it is necessary to highlight that increased connectivity alters the working culture since individuals can perform their duties away from the office.

Hyperconnectivity is easily discerned based on neo-urbanization in terms of government, education, business, workforces, health care, and sustainability. Owing to the high degree of the influence of ICT in the past, it is anticipated that the general quality of life will improve. In this regard, the expectation is that unforeseen opportunities would emerge. To a certain degree, the possibility of hyperconnectivity is likely to be a critical differentiator between the wealthy and the poor.

Public-private alliances are also likely to emerge as key players in societal affairs. Such arrangements are central to the realization of optimal benefits from the development of ICT. In embracing an alliance model, private-public alliances need to recognize that forging a united approach to resolving societal issues is among the best approaches to realizing development.

Among the main threats to the realization of the full potential of technological innovations is the uneven distribution of resources. The implication of such a disparity is that some regions or classes of the society are more likely to gain as compared to others. In light of the discrepancy, it might be necessary that all stakeholders find a common ground on how to address the inequality concerns. In addition, security concerns that are associated with online fraud should be mitigated. It is observed that the use of technology is under threat from fraudsters who prey for existing loopholes to defraud genuine users of Internet technologies.

Other Relevant Information About the Country

The development of ICT has also had an impact on social relations. The effects are seen across all countries that have adopted ICT infrastructures such as the United States. Without a doubt, social networking has changed the way people interact in significant ways. In this regard, it is important to refer to the role that ICT development has had on social relations in the country. According to Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy, and Silvestre (2011), one of the main outcomes is the reduction of the distance between individuals at the family level.

Another important aspect of the Internet revolution is job creation and availability. With the advent of technological hyperconnectivity, individuals can search for jobs from any part of the world (Kumar & van Welsum, 2013).

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