Digital Geostrategy Digital Strategy

Does Digital Transformation affect everyone in the same way?

A connected World

There are 7,659,785,014 of humans beings on earth at the time I am writing these lines. More than 5 billon of them own a mobile phone connection (GSMA data). That is more than 67% of the entire population of the globe, and the number continues to grow. By the end of the decade, according to GSMA, we will reach 5.7 billion of connected users!

Beijing, China

Talking about the internet access, more than 4 billons of people have an internet connection.

If the question was: does the digital transformation impact everybody?

Then the answer can be obtained by simply looking at the figures mentioned in the introduction.

Are we all using the internet in the same way?

But if we take the social demographics rules into account, the answer changes.

Does the digital transformation affect a 70-year-old woman in Ethiopia the same way it affects a 9-year-old boy in France?

The entire world population can be divided by social demographics rules, and that is what I am interested in.

Regarding the differences between the countries, it seems that some countries are more connected than others, and they are not using internet the same way.

The main example is WeChat in China. This app reached 1 billion users in 2018 according to an article from Rayna Hollander for Business Insider. WeChat is mainly used in China, and it is a real Swiss knife for the Chinese. They use it to pay, to transfer money to friends, to order a cab, and also to do e-commerce and to set up their own business. WeChat is the example, but the Chinese are definitely one step ahead in terms of digitalization and they use it for everything.

While Chinese are using it for daily basis needs, countries like Philippines or Brazil use the internet mainly for social media.

A wifi sign in the China Countryside

Western countries don’t rank very high when it comes to spending time on the internet. According to reports by “Hootsuite” and “We are social”, the first western country that appears on the ranking is Portugal in the 19th place.

It seems that the digitalization impacts everybody, but that its use worldwide is different.

One common point : communication

There is still one common major feature between the 4 billion who have an internet connection. It is the ability of using the internet to communicate with each other. Across the globe. Because it is finally what it is all about.

Alex Clarks, in his article for the Guardian, gave few interesting examples. He mentions in his article the way mobile phone changed the distribution of music in Mali, where the entire album “music from Saharan cellphones” has been shared via Bluetooth.

As Alex Clarks explained, this allows him to listen, from his flat in London, this kind of music.

To wrap it up, let me give you the reason behind my questioning

I am writing these lines from Laos, and I can’t explain how I surprised I am to see, in one of the poorest countries in the world,the sheer amount of smartphone with internet connection.

I took a picture with one of the locals. About a minute later, he airdropped me the photo. We were both happy.

Here is the common point.

Interacting with people is the backbone of digitalization, but what we do with it seems to depend on the cultural and social rules of where we are.


Bibliography :

About the author

Mathieu MOUTON

Mathieu MOUTON