Nobody can ignore technology, so it is important to have the information we need about consumers and IT. futurefact research unearths some interesting facts.
An idiot’s guide to technology is meant to dispel the intimidation inherent in getting to grips with using digital devices and taking the fear out of technology. Yet idiot guides are barely needed when children grow up exposed to a range of technological devices – they appear to have been born with a technology ‘gene’. And it is this that can increase the possibility of self-education and basic computer literacy that comes from learning and playing on connected devices.
Craig Wilson, contributing editor and journalist at Stuff magazine, points out that when we define digital access as “mobile data coverage for 100 percent of the population, we are aiming far too low”. He asks, “Do we really want to rank access from a basic smartphone alongside what’s available using a laptop or desktop with an uncapped, fixed-line connection?”
He goes on to say, “It may be possible to start and run a small business from a basic Android smartphone, but there are limitations to what can be achieved with mobile access alone. Africa will continue to find novel ways of getting the most out of mobile, but it’s far from an ideal solution.”
The latest futurefact survey confirms Wilson’s views. It finds that fear of technology decreases with an increase in access to a computer in addition to a cellphone. When comparing people who have access to the internet via a cellphone but not a computer to those with computer access, the latter are the far more technologically sussed group. For example, 67% of the ‘cell only’ group feel that technology is moving at such a rapid pace, they often feel left behind.
This figure drops to 56% for those with a PC. Those with PCs are also far more likely to find online ads very useful (54% to 41%). They are the ones who say they are happy to get ads via email or SMS if they can opt out when they want to (62% versus 53%). And they are considerably more active on the online front, with 50% versus 35% sometimes clicking on online ads, 23% versus 13% increasingly buying things online, and 49% versus 32% usually researching an item online before going to a store to buy it.
This is not to say that access to the internet via mobile is to be sniffed at. Both groups (just over 50%) check out what people have posted on social media when choosing products, brands or services. And both (also around 50%) send comments to family and friends about what they are watching on TV via their devices.
Local digital guru Arthur Goldstuck talks about the “participation curve”. This is the time it takes from getting online to being sufficiently familiar with, and trusting of, technology to begin shopping online or using cloud-based services, let alone developing applications or online services.
Goldstuck says it’s the last of these that’s the most important and it takes the longest time online to achieve. It seems evident from our findings – and from the views of people like Wilson and Goldstuck – that if South Africa is to achieve an inclusive economy on a number of levels, it will be essential to find a way to facilitate broadband access across a wider spectrum of South African society. This is essential so that a greater portion of the population can be brought more inclusively into a viable technologically-driven economy.
The findings above are from futurefact 2014. For more info, contact Jos Kuper 082 904 9939 or check out www.futurefact.co.za.
This post was first published in the February 2015 issue of The Media magazine.
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