The purpose of the research is to understand digital lifestyles and the impact digital technologies (mobile, social media and cloud) have on people at home and in the workplace. The primary data was developed using quantitative research methodology in a form of a survey questionnaire. The research sample was relatively small in size, comprises of majority people in Johannesburg (65%), Pretoria (12%), Cape Town (12%) and Durban (4%).
Figure 1 below depicts digital lifestyles. Living a digital lifestyle makes it easier for people to connect around the world using internet and digital technologies, enable people to work anywhere and creates smart home experience. Digital has many benefits, both at personal and business level. To name a few, it enhances communication, collaboration and reduce costs. For example digitizing your business processes, you can increase efficiency, employee productivity, automation, eliminate waste (paper) and improve customer experience in the process. Smart meter technology is revolutionizing the energy sector. This technology reduces power theft, detects errors, improve billing and payment collection method for power generation companies.
Based on the research, the interesting observation is that, functionals have the lowest score. This is mainly because, this group of people are not really social networking minded however do like to keep in touch with latest news, sports, weather and they also do online shopping.
The knowledge seekers have the highest score compared to the rest. This is surprising as these are typical researchers who use the internet to gain more knowledge, information and to educate themselves. They don't have much interest on social networking but do like to connect with like-minded people. This could mean that most people are using the internet and social media content to gain more insights about their areas of interest. On the bright side, this is good news, because it means people are becoming more informed and relevant.
It is comforting from a marketing perspective to see that influencers have the second highest score. These are mostly young people, they love mobile internet, passionate about social media, blog regularly, have a loud voice online and big online shoppers.
What does this mean for businesses that are using digital technologies as a competitive advantage?. It means there's a growing demand for the use of digital channels, like mobile, social media and collaboration platforms. People are becoming tech savvy, especially the younger generation. We are living in the information age (also known as computer age, digital age, or new media age). People are using information to their advantage for example to find, evaluate products/services and to create content. Businesses that are not adapting quickly to the digital revolution will be left behind.
Figure 2 and 3 analyses the impact mobile has on workplace. Digital technologies enable people to work anywhere in the world where there's internet connectivity, for example home, office, hotel, coffee shop etc. Many companies now allow their employees to work from anywhere, provide them with cloud-based tools so they can communicate and collaborate more effectively. I'm also one of those people that are more productive when working from home and encourage my team to follow suit. However this needs to be inline with the company culture and policies. The key words here are 'increased productivity'. The vast number of the respondents agrees mobile working can help them improve digital lifestyle.
Mobile technology continue to redefine how and where people communicate and collaborate. Businesses have the opportunity to tap into this developing market and to capitalize on the evolving mobile workforce as their business grows. The most successful businesses have become more flexible and fluid using digital technologies to broaden their geographical reach and as a competitive advantage.
Businesses can use digital as a balancing act for their employees to improve work-life schedule. It's becoming rare to find a business today that only sticks strictly to normal working hours (08h00 - 16h00). New communication and collaboration tools like Skype for business, workfront, jive, sharepoint, to name a few, makes it easy for businesses to conduct modern meetings that are efficient and productive. Most of the respondents, 88% believe mobile working can help them balance their work-life schedule. This is something that new digital businesses needs to consider as part of their culture.
Only 46% of the respondents agree that they are living in a connected or smart-home. In a smart-home, digital devices are connected with each other through the internet. Smart home services and apps makes it easier for the content (information, video, music etc.) to be shared, accessed from anywhere in your home. There's still a long way to go before the adoption of smart home services and devices in emerging countries like South Africa, where internet connectivity is still seen as a luxury. Figure 4 highlights views on smart-home living.
According to MyBroadBand (2016) Fibre infrastructure is being rolled out, primarily in major metropolitan centres and is becoming more easily accessible in response to the demand for fast, reliable, internet connectivity. This demand is, in part, driven by the exponential growth in online content from a consumer perspective and a greater need to consolidate ICT spend with a converged service in the business segment.
Fibre To The Home (FTTH) will definitely enable many South Africans to have faster internet speed and hopefully the price of data will eventually come down. As mobile technology keeps expanding, this will enable more people to work from their devices and from anywhere (home, office, hotel, coffee shop etc).