This article originally appeared on the Observatory for a Connected Society , powered by Corsham Institute and RAND Europe.
The world of tech loves to predict future trends. I and many others will avidly consume the prophecies of global strategists and tech evangelists on what will come to pass as our digital future unfolds. Whether it is the emerging technology of the next 12 months or the mega-trends of the future, it’s compulsive, healthy and a very necessary exercise, critical in the never-ending search for competitive advantage and economic wellbeing. However, there is a growing community of interest concerned with a different agenda: digital inclusion. This is not just a digital agenda, but an important social and economic one: in 2017, nine percent of the UK adult population is still offline and 11.5m adults have no basic digital skills. For those of us working in this area, anticipating and preparing for the future is just as important as it is for those immersed in predicting tech trends.
So, in that same spirit, what might the crystal ball show us in the digital inclusion agenda over the next five years? At the heart of the predictions I make below is a sense that we are on the cusp of a watershed moment where our approach needs to respond to a very different landscape. Looking at the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index over the last few years, trends and patterns are emerging that suggest self-motivated individuals in the UK who are open to exploring the benefits of digital technology are already on their journey. But, for those on the other side of the digital divide, the attitudes, beliefs and lived experiences are markedly different.
Predicting the future
What digital inclusion has in common with tech trend-spotting is that no one really knows how things are set to evolve. We can, however, use the insights we’ve already accumulated to shape our decisions in the future. I hope this piece has been successful in its objective to support – maybe even challenge – the thinking, actions and initiatives we’re pursuing so that we continue to collaborate and put every individual in the UK at the centre of their own digital journey.