Technology uses – towards the age of reason?

The digital revolution offers a great opportunity for socio-economic development as it continues to impact our lifestyles and consumer habits. To better understand the subject and how it affects us, and to share our thinking, Orange produced the first “Observatory of digital uses” in 2018. This latest study puts into perspective how consumers are using technology.

A study on an unprecedented scale

The Observatory, conducted on our behalf by Opinion Way, was carried out with more than 11,800 people interviewed in 9 countries around the world!

In all the countries covered by the study, a majority of digital users state they are unable to live without a smartphone: around 60% in Western countries and even more in Africa or in South Korea. Conversely, social networks are seen as less essential: 75% of digital users in France and Spain could do without them, rising to 82% of Americans.

This year, we’ve chosen to address the topics that are central to people’s concerns about this profound transformation: trust, dependence and disconnection, e-inclusion, citizenship and environmental impacts.

What key learnings we can draw from this edition:

  • Digital has become part of daily life in all geographies. This goes hand in hand with higher levels of interest (communication with loved ones and openness to the world) and a more widespread feeling of understanding about the subject and its tools (efficiency and productivity)
  • This level of maturity is translating into an increased awareness of the risks, in particular dependency and isolation, unreliability and personal data security. However, digital brings so many benefits to users that are seen to outweigh the risks.
  • Intense digital use is resulting in a growing need for disconnection, even sporadic: paradoxically, individuals find it hard to put this into practice.
  • Tomorrow, digital technology will continue to grow, firstly by offering ever more personalised services (especially in health, education and financial services) and secondly by increasing access and understanding for everyone.
  • The issue of digital pollution raises the question about device obsolescence. Users are stating they are now ready to upgrade them less often and reduce their use. Recycling is also starting to become well accepted in Western countries: one in three users claims to already do so.
  • Finally, digital inclusion is a subject that the majority of interviewees felt was important. It should even be a national priority for: 72% in France and 87% in Spain.

Users are also becoming more aware of the potential risks: hyper-connection, insecurity around personal data and concerns around undermining social relationships.

Indeed, might this indicate that we’ve finally entered an era of digital maturity?