So Indonesia is now officially more entrepreneurial than United States or Germany.
That’s according to an infographic by Gist, which describes the Silicon Valleys of the world. While I’m not trying to diss Indonesians, I find the results somewhat suspicious. So I went snooping around.
It turns out that the conclusion is derived from an “Entrepreneurship Index”, which gave Indonesia a score of 2.81 and the US a score of 2.8.
The scores come from a survey in which people were asked to gauge the following about their country: Whether innovation and creativity are highly valued, how easy it is for people to start a business, whether people who start their own businesses are highly valued, and whether people with good ideas can usually put them into practice.
The infographic revealed that Indonesia ranked 48th in the world for attractiveness to investors. The country has also apparently made it easier for entrepreneurs to get funds and start a business.
Entrepreneurs in 2003 took an average of 168 days to start a business, compared to 47 days in 2010.
While the infographic is somewhat insightful, I am inclined to take the rankings with a heavy dose of salt.
Here’s the issue I have with infographics: While they make data easier to digest, they simplify information so much that it sometimes gets distorted.
An infographic can be both a blessing and a curse. The worst kinds are those that are done purely for marketing purposes, and are flippant about listing their sources and ensuring that their information is accurate. Many companies do shoddy surveys for the same reasons (the GlobalEnglish one is a good example).
The situation could get worse. Tools like Piktochart and Visual.ly are making it easier for people to come up with a seductive infographic. That’s part of the problem: Anyone can do it. Even shameless self-promoters. Or idiots.
Scrutinizing the Gist infographic further, we realize that the Entrepreneurship Index was actually derived from a GlobeScan poll, which surveyed over 24,000 people in 24 countries. The survey appears credible, since GlobeScan is an international polling firm.
A tell-tale sign that the firm knows what it’s doing is the stated margin of error in the report: Within-country results are “considered accurate within +/- 2.1 to 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.”
However, doubts remain.
While the survey compared responses across countries and derived a ranking based on it, there’s no telling how cultural differences could affect the way people interpret the meaning of the questions and respond to it. Could a dose of patriotism lead them to shed a more positive light about their country?
Also, we don’t know if the composition of the participants were kept consistent across countries. Lastly, the fact that the survey has only gauged people’s sentiments indicates a blind spot. Such studies are best complemented with more objective indicators. In fact, I actually doubt if there’s a point in ranking countries for entrepreneurship.
So, if you’re thinking of doing an infographic to further your marketing aims, please think thrice about the information you’re using and where you get them from. Don’t add to the digital pollution.
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