With a recent refresh of the website and refocusing of what eCulture Solutions was about I thought it was would be good to try and define succinctly a mission, for which I have arrived at…
“To facilitate the exploitation of digital innovation, supporting delivery of positive and inclusive social and business transformation.”
The pace of technology innovation and digital inclusion is increasing at a significant rate and societies the world over, are transitioning to an digitally orientated way of life as governments and institutions adopt digital ways of engaging in preference over existing methods. Societies are entering the “eCulture” digital age .
The measure of success in the development of eCulture, will come down to how well society manages to establish “mutually supporting communities” in a digital context.
It is early days, and so as organisations and business start out on their respective eCulture transitions I thought it would be helpful to offer some guidance on what could be key considerations.
Government, public sector and allied third party service transformation delivered by preference for engagement between service providers and users to becoming wherever possible, a digital process, is presently focused by the premise that this will deliver much needed efficiency gains and cost savings.
UK Government business case estimates presently suggest that transactions online can already be 20 times cheaper than by phone, 30 times cheaper than postal, and as much as 50 times cheaper than face-to-face.
Success however, will not be achieved with this focus alone. Efficiency gains and savings can only be realised by wide scale adoption, that in turn will only be secured by service redesign that delivers mutual benefits to service users, largely recognised by them as improvements in efficiency, effectiveness and / or quality of the service.
There is however something that is fundamentally new in this evolution to eCulture status, on the basis that until now, any digital project concerning the engagement of service users, with notably these being largely commercial ventures, has qualified requirements and measures of success in business plans / profit and loss forecasts, on the basis of focusing engagement on a digitally “included” demographic.
By contrast a key distinguishing factor in the transition to the ‘eCulture’ age, is the social development focus on digital – for example job adverts and applications and critically public services, such as benefits and health and social care services, which for those that remain digitally “excluded”, the prospect of social exclusion and increasing poverty are of serious concern.
Digital exclusion is defined as:
Access – the inability to actually go online and connect
Skills – inability to use online solutions
Motivation – not having a personal reason making use a good thing
Trust – loss of privacy, or victim of online crime
Consequently overcoming the digital exclusion challenges is of greater concern to government, public sector and allied third party provider projects. Because the target demographic for online public services is the poor, elderly, frail and socially excluded, these representing the greatest proportion of citizens making most use of public and allied third party services, that unfortunately are also the greatest proportion that are ‘individually’ digitally excluded.
Additional Missed Business Opportunity
In the UK, recent research published by the BBC has found that 21% of UK’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the Internet.
Around a third of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) don’t have a website, and voluntary, community and social enterprises (VCSEs), a great many of which represent the allied third parties supporting public service provision, this figure rises to 50%. Independent analysts estimate full digital take up could add £63 billion value to the UK economy alone!
Of 7 billion people, around 40% of the world population has an Internet connection. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of Internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005, the second in 2010, the third will be reached by the end of 2014.
In 2013 in the UK, 89% of young people now use a smartphone or tablet to go online, up from 43% in 2010. At the end of 2013, global smartphone penetration had exploded from 5% of the global population in 2009, to 22%. That’s an increase of nearly 1.3 billion smartphones in four years.
Tablets are showing faster adoption rates than smartphones. It took smartphones nearly four years to reach 6% penetration from when the devices first started to register on a global level. Tablets accomplished this in just two years.
eCulture on a Mission
So in conclusion eCulture, is to help the organisations develop their digital skills and understanding of how technology innovation can be utilised operationally to increase the benefits they are able to deliver to their service users, and in the process of engagement help organisations to reach the digitally excluded through the many digitally included. After all almost everybody will have a family members, carers, friends or benevolent neighbours that are digitally included……
“their digital community”
A noble quest wouldn’t you agree?