How do people feel about a Digital Society?
For the last decade, every business has fought for survival or to increase their supremacy through various forms of Digital Transformation. Once upon a time, the marketing departments were demanding a new website to better attract consumers, then to retail, pay, interact, build communities, add a mobile channel. “Start with your consumer first” we always used to say. Multi-channel, omni-channel, every channel that they might want to use – present a holistic, joined up experience to the consumer.
Then we saw that ‘born-in-the-web’ businesses weren’t just about pretty front ends (I mean, they’re important, but …) – it was about new business models. Multi-sided markets, platform business models, the new normal – an evolved economy. The rest of the world needed to react. Music, Papers, Books, Retail, Financial Services and many more … all had to wake up and recognize it wasn’t just about that customer experience, it was about the efficiency and creativity of the operating model too.
And then, there was the recognition now that we, as employees, are changing. We don’t want to work in the same place for a lifetime anymore, so how do you provide corporate know-how that bridges a more rapidly changing workforce. “Our strength is our people” – how many times have we heard it over the years, the decades of experience embedded within them, but I don’t think that’s so valid going forward. The Future of Work looks very different, not only because of the desires of the millennials, but also due to the advent of more intrusive automation and robotics on top of the capitalist driven mentality squeezing every cost for maximizing profitability and shareholder returns.
I was asked a great question recently which I’ve much repeated. Which is the organization out there that has the best (and therefore greatest sustainable) balance between each of the shareholders, the business (marketplace success), the employees (Great Place to Work) and the citizens of the societies in which that business is active? Who is the global exemplar in this regard?
The thing is, the world is about to change. The pace of change of technology is at a point where the science fiction threats are beginning to be realized. Will automation and robots really do away with the need for billions to work? What will they (the humans) do then? Will Quantum Computers solve mysteries that have confounded us for millienia? Will AI and machine intelligence make humanity redundant, as we struggle to keep up with even the most basic device? Some serious voices have already expressed concern.
That’s why we think more than ever before, we need to find out how the world feels about it. Does humanity understand the decisions that are being made by the tech industry at the moment? We don’t think it does, perhaps only a small – but growing – proportion. Do Governments truly understand the challenges ahead? In part yes, but Governments are made up only of people like you and I, and the enormity of potential change ahead is enough to challenge anyone.
Our global survey has now been launched, looking at how people feel about a Digital Society, driven by their personal levels of comfort and trust in the technology and experiences that are here or will be here soon. Our view of the digital divide is that it is not a straight line between those that do and those that do not access technology - it is the divide between those who trust from those who distrust, those who embrace from those who snub, and it fluctuates according to societal demographics such as age and location.
Our hypothesis is that this divide is growing, because the pace of change of technology is outstripping the pace of trusted adoption by the global population. We wanted to understand how it would vary, dependent on the starting point – for example, shrinking populations in the West vs. growing populations in Africa or the East.
Please complete our survey here. And once you have completed it, please share it amongst colleagues and family, far and wide. We would like to reach out to every country in the world, and entirely through network effect. To support that, it is available in a range of languages to enable as many people as possible across the world to have a voice. Currently we have had responses from over 40 countries.