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Published on 09 May 2019

Understanding the social impacts of technology

In an era of fake news and increasing mistrust of politicians, institutions, the media and more recently social networks; citizens expect companies to take a clear stand and act meaningfully when it comes to the major societal changes driven by digital. That’s why Orange is developing and implementing a positive, human and responsible vision of technology – one that is constantly questioned and enhanced through the Digital Society Forum.


The Digital Society Forum, a “think and do tank”

Initiated by Orange in 2013, the Digital Society Forum is a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices around the social impacts of technology. It is a collaborative and open forum that brings together academic experts (including researchers, teachers, economists, sociologists and anthropologists) as well as civil representatives (associations and individuals), businesses and local authorities. The aim is to give everyone the means to better understand how technology developments are transforming our daily lives.

A broad range of major themes such as employment, health, privacy, the environment and consumer behaviour have already been discussed and are available online at the Forum’s website. Each theme is approached at a dedicated round table with Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of Orange. The 13th round table, held in France in November 2018, was all about digital inclusion. Each meeting is followed up by regional workshops held throughout France, which are open to the general public.


Citizens invited to the table

“When it comes to technology, we firmly believe everyone should be encouraged to get involved, so we’ve been organising public workshops for the past five years,” explains Valérie Tiacoh, Group CSR Communication Director. To date, we’ve already held 86 workshops in France in partnership with local authorities. They bring together between 50 and 80 people from a whole range of backgrounds including professionals, students, teachers, retirees, associations, Chambers of Commerce, elected officials, start-ups, the media and more. Each round table is facilitated but not led, so that participants are free to express their opinions, understand more about how digital technology is changing society and come up with ideas for adapting to these changes.

“These discussions are very rich, and we’re always surprised to see so much creativity in such a short space of time. We’re all learners and learn from each other. This is the strength of collective intelligence. We firmly believe these moments of pause can lead to better awareness and better use of digital in our lives,” continues Valérie. Each debate is recorded online and becomes the topic of a joint publication that everyone contributes to.


Sharing knowledge

The Digital Society Forum is also a content platform where any interested party can find out more information including articles, research summaries and proposals resulting from public meetings. Building a trusted society means giving everyone access to knowledge and the power to act independently.

The Digital Society Forum continues to develop internationally. In 2018, it was launched in Côte d’Ivoire with a round table dedicated to health, and Senegal has also organised its first public workshops in the region. Morocco also held its first Digital Society Forum debate in April 2019.



A journey of discovery into the latest thinking and innovations from around the world with the Orange Institute

3 questions to… Laurence Lemoine, Head of Orange Institute, Communications and Brand Team.

What is Orange Institute?

Founded in 2009, this think tank has more than 200 members and is aimed at business leaders who are curious to explore the latest innovation in all corners of the world. We organise a whole host of events led by expert speakers as well as deep dive ‘Learning Expeditions’. These biannual trips, often to distant horizons, enable our members to reflect, discuss and form new business partnerships. All our programmes include an element of tech for good, which is at the heart of Orange’s Human Inside philosophy.

After 21 sessions in 13 countries, what are the main themes that you see emerging?

There are certain similarities around the world. Artificial intelligence is now omnipresent and the data that feeds it is now one of the major drivers of this digital revolution. However, the way this data is applied or used varies enormously according from one country to another according to its governance and regulation. For example, in Israel, technology is a lever for groundbreaking cybersecurity, whereas in China it serves a more closed ecosystem around the WeChat environment.

How does Orange Institute contribute to a trusted digital society?

Trust is central to our approach. Our programmes offer people a 360’ view so they’re free to form their own opinion Seeing certain excesses, especially when it comes to data, also enables us to improve our awareness and vigilance for creating a digital society that ensures meaningful progress. This is something we’ll be looking at more closely during our next session… in Russia!