Digital divide is a term describing the disparity of access to the information technologies but also deals with people who have or not the skills and capacity to use these technologies. Since 15 years, our technology has developed incredibly fast and this problem is remaining. Thus, we will see that the advantages that allow the IT are not approachable to all the populations because of inequalities…
In a first part, I will relate this term to the business field. In a second part, we will take a look at the digital divide in France to see the scale it has and how the nation deals with it.
First of all, concerning my studies, IT took an important place from university where I had courses on how to use software such as Word, Excel and Power Point. Moreover, in France as well as in Belgium, we are allowed to use our laptop in class to take notes and sometimes it is even compulsory (Business Game, New media…).
Concerning the industry, the importance of having strong skills in IT is undeniable. Nowadays, we can notice that for every job, companies ask for proficiency in using the office pack and sometimes even require particular software such as Photoshop, Sphinx… This can be explained by the fact that IT increases the production as everything is easier:
- In a shop, sales are registered which permits to analyze the productivity of a company, the period where sales increased or decreased…
- Our personal information is kept on a database which helps the marketing department to know what we are interested in and thus maintain a good relationship.
- In administration, IT is used to create new contracts, pay the employees, schedule meetings…
- Communication also became easier thanks to emails and mobile phones as you can be available all the time for your clients and be reached easily.
- IT is necessary in business mobility: it is not really developed for the moment but I went to a conference in London were Mr Peter Kelly, director of Virgin Media Business, explained that the companies which will succeed in the future will be the ones which will work with the “business mobility”, that is to say the capacity to run an organization by managing the remote employees, placing social medias as a main access to maintain contact while they are on the road.
According to this, we can clearly say that the difference of skills between employees in a company can slow the productivity. In this way, less skills closes doors and creates less opportunities of having a good job.
In France, the digital divide is persistent. According to France’s Strategic Analysis Center, still one third of the population has neither a computer nor an Internet connection, thus excluding them as a lot of things (administrative processes for example) are becoming digitized.
If we go deeper, we can notice 3 digital divides in France:
- The generational divide: According to the video, only 18% of the over 65 use Internet. These seniors evoked, through a study, the fear of novelty, the acquisition cost of the equipment and the lack of training as obstacles. All these reasons place them in situation of isolation. However, well adapted, the IT could help them maintain a social relationship and prevent them from social disabilities.
- Social divide which exclude the most deprived. As stated in a study, 49 % French who live with a monthly income under 900 Euros have no landline telephone access coupled with Internet. Another issue is for the digital natives: nowadays, the children are used to technologies from their youngest age which is likely to erase the generational divide through the years. Nevertheless, this gap between the youngest which have this access to technologies and those who don’t risk to continue throughout their life and place the deprived ones away from the society.
- Cultural divide which deprives the less educated people of the opportunities of using IT. According to the study, 97 % of the graduated people of the higher education have a computer at home, against 1 person on 2 among the non-graduated.
We can also feel these divides with the mobile phones:
- Only 59 % of the people over 70 years have one.
- 26 % of the people having a monthly income under 900 Euros don’t have one.
- 30 % of the non-graduated people don’t have one.
- Digital public spaces have been set up to teach seniors how to use a computer, helping them to progress gradually by introducing them to the idea, getting them used to computers and make them lose their fear.
- Other solutions are reduce the cost of the Internet by developing a strong competition and establish a “social price” for the most deprived. The nation also plans to create more digital public places with a free access to the Internet: in 2012, already 21 % of French used the Internet by this mean.
To conclude, we can say that IT is very important nowadays and not having skills to use them closes many doors in business. In France still, the digital divide is there, creating generational, social and cultural gaps between people. To solve the problem, the government took decisions such as linking the whole territory with the high-speed Internet before 2022. For this, a construction work of 14 billion has been set up, aiming at erasing the digital divide.