New Zealand has improved its position in global rankings measuring how countries take advantage of new technology, moving closer to overtaking Australia.

In a report from the World Economic Forum, New Zealand was placed 18th of 138 countries in its readiness and capacity to use technology to boost the country's economic competitiveness and improve the lives of citizens.

This was one place up from last year and one place below Australia, which slipped from 16th to 17th.

Nordic countries out performed other regions in the effective use of technology, with Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway all placing in the top ten.

According to the report, both New Zealand businesses and households are becoming more willing to use and benefit from technology, with usage increasing in 2010/11 year.

The network readiness index (used to work out the rankings) factored how ready and inclined individuals, governments and businesses were to adopt and take advantage of technology.

It also considered how the regulatory and market environment facilitated the use of technology and the quality of infrastructure, such as internet networks.

New Zealand's regulatory environment was ranked third, its market environment 16th, and its infrastructure 19th.

Other index tables in the report suggested a co-relation between broadband penetration and economic competitiveness.

Director of the New Zealand Institute, Rick Boven, said there was an important link between developing and fostering technology networks, like the ultra-fast broadband scheme, and a high-performance economy.

It was important for this technology to be integrated into a wide range of industries such as education, health and transport to improve productivity and to offer the maximum social benefit to citizens, he said.