by Doug Adams
If you haven’t moved for a job, you know someone who has. More than a decade into our broadband revolution, the knowledge economy, and e-everything, it’s a bit discouraging to find that, even today, geography can still dictate individual or organizational potential for success. Still, in 2011, the digital divide limits job and opportunities, either at an organizational or an individual/entrepreneurial level, in rural areas.
Of course the digital divide is nothing new – but lately it seems that the class warfare in the haves and have-nots has shifted from an economic divide to a geographic one. With major investments being made across the globe to increase capacity and deliver broadband to the under and un-served (most notably with investments in Australia and the United States), there are still some that would have you believe that investing in broadband just isn’t worth it for some.
The idealist in me immediately wants to refute this as ridiculous, short-sighted thinking! How could anyone not know the benefits of broadband including the economic and social benefits that accompany more robust Internet connectivity? Don’t these people realize that to survive and thrive in the knowledge economy, broadband is the key enabler? Haven’t they seen the “build it and they will come” movie where people flock to Iowa in ‘Field of Dreams?’ Hasn’t the availability of broadband and the rise of every broadband enabled device taught us anything about the potential of broadband? Are these people naïve? It may even be a legal requirement as soon the only way my grandmother can access services will be online… does she need to move?
Then I take a step back from my knee-jerk reaction and let the pragmatist in me take over. As a broadband economist, I along with my firm, SNG, dissect where the demand for broadband exists – and where investment will have the deepest, most long-lasting impacts. We do this through a step-by-step methodology that includes direct stakeholder feedback.
Needs vary. It is nice to aspire to ultra-fast, fiber to the home for everyone… but is that practical? Ideally, we would see a world where everyone could innovate with no barriers. Pragmatically, many would just watch higher definition online feeds of Sponge Bob.
Do businesses need ultra-speed Internet? I would argue they will eventually, whether they realize it or not. But pragmatically, we need to – at the very least – get anchor institutions equipped with middle and last mile access so for today’s needs as well as tomorrow’s, communities are better equipped to expand into the world of fiber and ultra-speed broadband. Schools and hospitals MUST have ultra-broadband to prepare students for life… and to save lives with telemedicine.
It is inevitable that the combination of computing power and demand for new and better applications and new approaches such as cloud computing will increase the need for more speed by the majority of users over time – no matter whether they are in New York, NY or in a cornfield in Iowa.
For the Statisticians… Productivity by the numbers
SNG’s research shows that organizations are more efficient the greater the Internet speed they have available to them. Speed matters, regardless of how it is delivered. Move to the greatest access available, ideally fiber. Friends don’t let friends use “basic broadband.”
For Fiber users the positive ROI on e-solutions for improving productivity is 8.9% higher than Cable and 14.2% higher than DSL.
For Fiber users the importance of broadband for adopting new operational processes is 8.1% higher than Cable and 10.3% higher than DSL.
For Fiber users the importance of broadband for improving staff skills is 14.3% higher than Cable and 14.8% higher than DSL.
Creating an Action Plan for Broadband Utilization
With all of the hub-bub around broadband build out, it is important not to forget about utilization… and how you drive meaningful utilization in your community.
A great compliment to our recently announced Market Demand Snapshot is an Action Plan for Broadband Utilization. Designed to spur economic development and job creation, and incorporating feedback from stakeholder workshops, SNG can provide you with will provide the tactics, methods and tools needed to drive broadband adoption and meaningful use.
As we continuously preach, broadband availability alone is not enough to realize its social and economic benefits. An understanding of how to effectively use of broadband for commerce, citizen services and the positioning of rural counties as attractive areas for 21st century business and living will play a critical factor in their long-term success of your broadband investment and your ability to impact the lives of the citizens and businesses already located in the regions.
SNG can help your region with effective strategic planning for impactful economic development with a sound, three-step approach:
Identifying and rallying the key stakeholders that need to be actively engaged in the economic development through broadband adoption process via the application of broadband best practices;
Laying the foundations for an actionable strategic plan that will enhance broadband adoption, meaningful use and job creation across identified verticals of interest, e.g. residences, schools, businesses, libraries, healthcare facilities, public safety and government;
Driving efficiencies into the community through the adoption of digital purposes and broadband enabled applications that increase quality of life, the growth of economic and employment opportunities, and spurring commercial investment locally.
If you are interested in learning more about how this structured approach can drive demand, adoption and meaningful use to advance your region’s ability to compete globally, attract investment, realize efficiencies, and create jobs, contact Michael Curri.
Remembering a Friend and Colleague
you visited www.sngroup.com lately? If you have, you may have noticed that the home page has undergone a minor facelift, designed to make navigating our site easier than
Our friend and colleague Charles Berry passed away at this past Friday. He was 42 – much too young. We loved him dearly.
His life was filled with adventure and achievement, love and laughter. Charles spent every waking hour living life to its fullest – and his ambition and love of life often drove him to sleep deprivation. During his time with us, Charles crammed as much life into every day as anyone you could ever meet..
Charles used to say with pride that he and his family could pack and be on their way to their next adventure in a few hours. He and his childhood best friend and wife Dawn saw so much of this world as work and thirst for cultural diversity and life experiences saw them set down not only coast-to-coast in the United States, but in Japan, India, and France. He dearly loved the Cannes in the French Riviera and the Georgia Coast and wanted us all to experience them with him. Other than his childhood home of St. Louis, the past 4 years in Cleveland were the longest Charles and Dawn had stayed in one place. “Too much to see and do,” Charles used to say with his infectious smile.
Charles was a brilliant man, evidenced by his numerous career achievements, which culminated in the formation of his own venture with a small group of partners – a broadband consulting firm named Gigabit Squared, which now serves clients all over the globe. It is ironic and sad that Charles’ untimely death came at a point in his life when he was going to get “back to seeing the world” and travelling. The past few months Charles was happier than ever – ready to take on and conquer challenges all over the globe as the company he had help build was ready to take off.
But Charles’ brilliance was most evident when he shared a dinner with a friend – and discussed politics, religion, business, or even the intricacies of the NBA, NFL, or Soccer. Charles was quite competitive and loved a challenge – so he was drawn to friends and colleagues who he could banter back and forth with for hours. Always good natured, always with a laugh and an excited smile, Charles would – as many of his friends called it – ‘hold us hostage,’ saying ‘just five more minutes’ so that we could continue the debate, discussion, and laughs. Time with Charles was always challenging and exhilarating – he was going to push you and laugh with you and make sure that he challenged any of your preconceived beliefs. He loved playing the Devil’s Advocate because he could argue either side of a position brilliantly, and he loved to challenge the minds of the people he cared about.
While Charles was fiercely proud of his nomadic, go anywhere lifestyle with no geographic roots – the roots he did put down were with the people in his life. Fiercely loyal, if Charles counted you a friend, you were a friend for life, no matter the distance. He spent so much time with the people in his life every day that often his workday ended up being 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
He leaves behind his wife, childhood best friend Dawn, and daughter Magda, 11, and son Nigel, 9. While our relationship with Charles was mostly away from his family, there was no doubt to any of us that they were always close to him. And when we saw Charles with his wife and children, his smile grew even bigger and the twinkle in his eye was less mischievous nature and much more reflecting pure love and admiration for the family that he adored. His children will always know that Daddy loved them more than anything in this world.
We are all still in shock with the untimely passing of our dear friend. Not a day will go by without some reflection, a memory of laughter with this big hearted man. We will miss him dearly, but know what he would tell us. That it is our job to pick up and keep going. To let his life serve as a reminder to pack every bit of life, love, and laugher into every day. There was really no one else like Charles. As his friends, it will be our charter to honor him by challenging our minds, taking time for friends and family, and remember, as he used to tell us, “not take all of this so seriously.”
What Jobs Taught Us About Driving Broadband Utilization
by Doug Adams
As a marketer, Steve Jobs has always been on my short list of ‘most admired.’ His ability to innovate and wrap his products in the flag of an Apple culture was (and is) remarkable. My wife, the traditional Apple zealot explained what his leaving meant… she said simply, that Apple will “never be the same” – that what’s missing is the ‘magic touch’ that made Jobs legendary.
What Jobs was able to do was tie technology to meaning… to, as Don Draper quips in the famous Mad Men scene… take technology from a “glittering lure” and, on rare occasion, “engage the public beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product.” For those interested in the clip, view it on You Tube.
Jobs drove e-Solutions with his vision, innovation, and design… but mostly by convincing consumers that to Think Different was special:
He used the Apple culture (or the cult of Apple depending on your view) to engage and drive e-solution adoption. By making his products easy-to-use, he went beyond mere adoption and achieved utilization. The type of deep, involved utilization that made upgrades a must have, not just a nice to have.
It was Jobs vision that the broadband would make the computer the ‘digital hub’ of the home that drove electronics and accompanying applications at a dizzying rate, transforming an industry and a world of users. Without broadband, it is at least possible that Apple does not exist today. Instead, it’s the most valuable consumer brand in the world.
So now Apple now has a void. But more significantly for our purpose is the question… how do we, as broadband evangelists… do what he did?
I tend to cringe when I hear broadband described as a ‘utility.’ While that might be an accurate description, would anyone trying to drive exciting, transformative e-solutions describe the road there as a ‘utility?’ Does our economy’s future depend on a ‘utility?’
The simple answer is yes – electricity is a utility, one for which we depend mightily. But its existance does not inspire. We need to engage and inspire in 2011 when driving broadband use because it is not ingrained in our society to the depths that ‘traditional’ utilities are.
What we need are solutions that transform our world, build on a platform for innovation. We need to be as vigorous in selling broadband’s benefits as Jobs would with the latest iSomething.
Broadband has the ability to radically change our entire world in orders of magnitude more than it already has. But we need to get past the utilitarian view of broadband – looking at what it enables and instead what it empowers. At the advent of broadband, Apple’s campaign challenged us to push the world forward. Is what we’re doing enough to drive the complete transformative power of broadband… or do we need to Think Different?
The Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA) (www.internetinnovation.org/) released its 10 ways broadband contributes to job creation and serves as a connector of job seekers, employers and employees. Sources for the research include the American Library Association, the Federal Communications Commission, and SNG.
In the spirit of lists, we’ve come up with our own for this month’s issue of Bandwidth. Using SNG’s Digital Economy Analytics Platform (DEAP), containing data from regions across the U.S. and the globe, we present the…
by Derek Murphy & Michael Curri
The digital divide has long been commonly understood to mean unequal access to the Internet and its accompanying resources and services.
But as connectivity expands to more households, attention shifts to how people use and benefit from the Internet. Not surprisingly, another dimension to the digital divide emerges as not everyone is equally able to use and benefit from the Internet, even when they have and use the Internet. The same factors that impact adoption of the Internet have a pronounced impact on how effectively people are leveraging the Internet.
At SNG, utilization is a key metric we examine in all regions. In the past year, SNG collected utilization data in four states from over 12,534 organizations (commercial and non-commercial) and 4,638 households giving us unique insights into this new dimension to the digital divide. Some findings are not surprising while some provide new and unique insights that cause us to take a step back and wonder how we – as an industry – should define the digital divide moving forward.
The Big Picture:
Not surprisingly, SNG’s research shows that age and income have very significant impacts on how people use the Internet. Our proprietary Digital Economy index (DEi) summarizes how households use thirty distinct Internet activities. The higher the DEi, the more Internet activities a household engages. The Digital Economy index progression from 1 to 10 (10 being highest) reflects the number of e-solutions being utilized – 10 being a household at 100% utilization.
Utilization is impacted by income and age – the lower a household income or the older the household, the lower its Internet utilization. The differences (or divide) is most pronounced for those over 55 and those making less than $30,000. So the digital divide is actually expanding as younger, higher income households best leverage e-solutions.
Click on chart for a larger version.
Without a ‘Next Step,’ It’s Just Numbers
SNG’s research (above) clearly shows:
As we all know, computer and Internet skill levels affect broadband utilization, but more interestingly:
The lower your income, the lower your utilization.
The older you are, the lower your utilization.
So lower income individuals ages 55-plus land at the lowest level of utilization. Conversely, younger and upper income households are at a higher level of utilization, leveraging broadband more effectively and deriving the most benefits – further increasing the digital divide.
Simply connecting… or even basic adoption does not complete the process of bringing people and households into the digital world. Even among those who are already using the Internet, there is a digital divide.
So we need to do better, including designing Internet outreach and training programs to the groups that are still experiencing the divide. How will the older generation be able to use Telehealth if they can barely accomplish basic Internet activities?
Digging deeper, for those interested in the details!
Where, specifically, are household struggling to adopt Internet activities? Our studies show that some skills and activities are easier to learn than others – the table below shows the activities where there is still a divide. E-mail, browsing and research are actively used by 80% or more of households. However, teleworking, selling online and using VOIP are significantly more challenging – but that’s where the biggest benefits from utilization are derived.
Click on chart for a larger version.
The earning ability of lower and middle income households is enhanced by the very Internet activities for which they’re least skilled. Economic development investments by government or nonprofits should focus on helping drive the utilization of e-solutions that generate the most benefits for individuals. A starting point might be more focused, targeted training for those e-solutions that have the most significant, long-lasting socio-economic impacts.
— Source: Federal Communications Commission, www.broadband.gov, Accessed 6/24/11
“The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that jobs depending on broadband and information and communication technologies (ICT)—such as computer systems analysts, database administrators and media and communications workers—will grow by 25% from 2008–2018, 2.5 times faster than the average across all occupations and industries.” 2
— Source: Joelle Tessler, “Broadband Funding In Stimulus Plan Sparks Debate,” The Associated Press, 2/6/09
“These investments will create new jobs up and down the economic food chain, said Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. His group estimates that a $10 billion investment in broadband would produce as many as 498,000 new jobs. Those include the construction workers and telecommunications technicians who must dig up streets, lay down fiber-optic lines and install wireless towers, as well as the engineers and factory workers at companies that make the fiber, electronics and computer equipment needed to build the networks. Much of that equipment is made overseas now, but Atkinson’s projections exclude jobs that would go abroad.” 3
— Source: Strategic Networks Group, “e-NC and SNG Release Broadband Findings for North Carolina,” 10/28/11 http://www.sngroup.com/e-nc-and-sng-release-broadband-findings-for-north-carolina/
“Nearly one in five (18%) of new jobs were created as a direct result of Broadband Internet.” 4
— Source: Twin Cities Daily Planet, “Building Broadband Infrastructure for Jobs in Greater Minnesota,” 5/24/11, http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2011/05/24/building-broadband-infrastructure-jobs-greater-minnesota
“…17% of retirees, nearly three out of five unemployed adults, and almost one-third of homemakers say they would likely join the workforce if empowered to do so by teleworking.” 5
— Source: Strategic Networks Group. “Measuring Broadband’s Impact,” http://www.sngroup.com/broadband-lifecycle/measuring-the-impact-of-broadband/ Accessed 07/26/11
“We have demonstrated that the local economic growth and secondary investment enabled by broadband in 10 times the initial broadband investment and the contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 15 times the initial investment.” 6
— Source: Federal Communications Commission, www.broadband.gov, Accessed 6/24/11
“Broadband is becoming a prerequisite to economic opportunity for individuals, small businesses and communities. Those without broadband and the skills to use broadband-enabled technologies are becoming more isolated from the modern American economy. This is due in part to the rapidly changing nature of work in the digital age. Sixty-two percent of American workers rely on the Internet to perform their jobs.”
— Source: 2008 Robert Half International, http://www.teleworkresearchnetwork.com/telecommuting-statistics, Accessed 7/8/11
“72% of employees say flexible work arrangements would cause them to choose one job over another. 37% specifically cite telecommuting.” 8
— Source: 2009 National Technology Readiness Survey Telecommuting Report, http://www.technoreadymarketing.com/NTRS_2009_Telecommuting_Cost.php, Accessed 7/8/11
“…14 percent telecommute or work at home, of which half (7 percent) telecommute full-time and half (7 percent) do so part-time. Another 9 percent of workers have a job that does not require a commute.”
— Source: American Library Association, “New Library Study: Demand Up For Technology, Budget Cuts Limit Access,” Press Release, 6/21/11; http://classic.cnbc.com/id/43480125
“A new national report shows that U.S. public libraries continue to expand as technology centers for communities, providing essential resources for job-seekers and support for critical e-government services. In addition, as the demand for e-books increases, libraries are the starting place for free downloads. … More than 74 percent of libraries offer software and other resources to help patrons create resumes and employment materials, and 72 percent of libraries report that staff helped patrons complete online job applications.” 10
— Source: Career Change Challenge With Jullien Gordon, “50+ Job Search Statistics You Need To Know,” Posted By Jullien Gordon, 8/10/10 A Recent Posting On Job Search Statistics Revealed:
– “Online Marketing (online resume posting) yields an 8 percent chance of success in uncovering the next opportunity. This rate matches those of 2003 when this strategy was still in its infancy.
– Referrals from within the organization (18 percent) and outside the organization (9 percent) are the most successful ways to land the opportunity.
– A blended strategy of using social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, helps identify referral opportunities.”
• Digital Economy statistics
• If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it
• Telework is a good application of the NBN but needs to be benchmarked
To his credit, Senator Conroy set some hard quantitative targets to be reached by 2020 for the eight goals of the National Digital Economy Strategy. In the case of telework, the goal is to “double the level of teleworking so that at least 12% of Australian employees may work away from the traditional workplace”. That implies it is about 6% now – right?
Wrong. The latest figure we have is indeed 6% but it comes from an ABS Time Use Survey conducted in 2006 – the figure is 5 years old! Worse, the next survey will not be conducted until 2013. The hard 12% target may not be so hard to achieve given the changes in broadband availability over the last 5 years.
If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. This is not difficult to fix; although I should declare an interest in the proposed solution.
Last year, the Strategic Networks Group (SNG) found that 18.9% on average (25.6% in metro areas) teleworked in North Carolina; with about half of these reporting that they telework more than 3 days a week! SNG finds that collecting benchmarking data directly from organisations and households not only provides more current data of progress towards goals, but also maps drivers and barriers to utilisation
The case studies to be presented at the DBCDE-AIIA teleworking forum on the 3rd of August are fine. But there is no reason to expect things to change without an execution framework that engages end-users directly – in itself this promotes awareness and drives utilisation of broadband-enabled solutions.
Name: John de Ridder
Title: SNG Associate
Company: SNG http://www.sngroup.com/ or http://www.deridder.com.au/
John is a former Telstra chief economist who has been consulting to public and private organisations here and overseas. His main expertise is in broadband, pricing and regulation.
OTTAWA, CANADA – Organizations are more efficient the greater the Internet speed they have available to them, according to new research from Strategic Networks Group. The message: Speed matters, regardless of how it is delivered.
For fiber users, the positive ROI on e-solutions for improving productivity is 8.9 percent higher than for cable users and 14.2 percent higher than for DSL users. The importance of broadband for adopting new operational processes is 8.1 percent higher than for cable users and 10.3 percent higher than for DSL users. And the importance of broadband for improving staff skills is 14.3 percent higher than for cable users and 14.8 percent higher than for DSL users.