Friday, May 20, 2016

The Dangers of the Digital Divide

The longer you wait, the more marginalized you’re going to become." So says Deloitte co-founder John Hagel, III talking about how important it is for companies to implement digital solutions for their customers needs immediately. Deloitte recently conducted its third study on consumer expectations and found, "This year, and over two million data points later, the continuing growth of digital influence is resulting in a widening divide between consumers’ digital expectations and retailers’ ability to deliver on them."

In an interview with professor Gerald Kane of Boston College's Carroll School of Management, published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, Hagel said that while consumers are increasingly demanding sophisticated digital solutions for information gathering, communication, and shopping needs, companies tend to look at digital technology as a choice or a potential opportunity, rather than a necessity. That mindset will result in decreased market share, potentially threatening the viability of companies who resist digital solutions, according to Hagel.

This issue is particularly acute for older consumers. Adults 50 years old and above represent the Web's largest constituency, comprising one-third of the total 195.3 million Internet users in the U.S. According to the Pew Trust over 90% of college educated and seniors whose incomes are over 75,000 going online regularly, with an average of 19 hours a week Among older adults who use the internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week."

Seniors who go online have very positive attitudes about the Internet and its benefits in their daily life. The Pew Trust says they are "fervent users of the Internet who love email and often use the Web to gather important information such as material to help them manage their health." They further report that, "Fully 79% of older adults who use the internet agree with the statement that 'people without internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing,' while 94% agree with the statement that “the internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past.”

For retirement communities, digital solutions for their residents is increasingly necessary, with impacts on marketability, acquisition and retention of residents, and resident satisfaction and quality of life.


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