Introduction

The methodology outlines 16 indicators to examine and assess the 100 most influential ICT companies’ policies, processes, performance and disclosure across the breadth of the digital system, from hardware to software and telecommunication services to platforms.

The critical digital inclusion themes covered by the benchmark include access, skills, use and innovation.

Digital technology can be a powerful enabler of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, divides around access to technology, digital skills, inclusive technology development and exposure to online risks and harms persist around the world, slowing the potential to achieve the SDGs. Companies, while varied in their approach and levels of commitment, are evolving rapidly in how they view information and communications technologies (ICTs) as a tool for sustainable development. Acting as a global accountability mechanism, publicly available benchmarks are a vital first step towards shedding light on the reality of corporate impact in this area.

Read the methodology

Layering digital companies by industry

Digital companies vary widely. Some manufacture equipment, some provide telecommunication services, some offer information technology (IT) or ICT-enabled services while others carry out two or more of these activities. Given the significant functional differences among digital companies, it is analytically important to classify them into key categories. Digital companies are categorised in various ways depending on the classification source. The Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) sector and industry classification is used as a starting point.

More than four fifths of the DIB100 companies fall into the technology and communications sector category, which includes the following industries: electronic manufacturing services and original design manufacturing; hardware; internet media and services; semiconductors; software and IT services; and telecommunication services.

There are other sectors with industries featuring digital companies: consumer goods (e-commerce); infrastructure (data centres); financials (digital finance); and services (digital media).

Companies are then ‘layered’ into three broad categories:

  1. hardware, consisting of the manufacture of digital goods such as end-user devices, network equipment and semiconductors
  2. telecommunication services;
  3. IT services, consisting of software applications, data centres, cloud computing and platform services.

When companies provide diverse products, they are classified in the layer from which they derived the most revenues in the most recent accounting year. The relationship between the layers and industry classification along with the proportion of companies in each is shown in this figure

Digital companies by region

Companies with corporate headquarters in thirty-three economies are represented in the benchmark with a global footprint extending to almost the entire planet, either through subsidiaries, supply chains and countries where the products are bought and used. Companies have been classified into geographies for analytical purposes. Due to the large number of digital companies included from mainland China and the United States, they are shown separately.

In the figure ‘Other’ refers to Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East, Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada. Companies from Hong Kong SAR, China and Taiwan, China have been classified in Asia due to the different legal environments they operate under.

Scoring guidelines

Digital Inclusion Benchmark consists of 16 indicators equally divided into four measurement areas: access, skills, use and innovation. This document describes how the indicators and measurement areas are scored to result in an overall benchmark score.

Read the scoring guidelines here

Detailed company scores per indicator

Scores for each company are publicly available at the indicator and measurement area level for all stakeholders. Individual company results are presented in company scorecards, and scores against each of the 16 indicators are disclosed in a detailed scoring sheet.

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Scope

One hundred keystone digital companies were benchmarked on 16 indicators across four measurement areas: access, skills, use and innovation. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed by all 193 United Nations members in 2015, are the world’s roadmap to a sustainable future. The SDGs informed the construction of the digital inclusion benchmark and all of the indicators map to one or several goals.

The private sector, and digital companies in particular, will be critical to achieving the SDGs by 2030. Evidence-based metrics assessing tech companies provides a yardstick for measuring their performance in expanding digital inclusion and contributing to sustainable development.

The digital transformation is identified by WBA as one of the seven system transformations required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

Read the full scoping report here

Synthesis report

This report presents the results of our first Digital Inclusion Benchmark. It presents the performance of 100 keystone digital companies against 16 indicators in the four measurement areas: access, skills, use and innovation.

Go to the synthesis report here