Four Corners of Digital Society

As I mentioned in a post a bit earlier, Digital Society is more than Facebook. To enable a truly digital society there are 4 major areas that industry and government need to enable.


These four key areas, from my view, are naturally focused on people. All too often in the recent past, organisations have worked on utilising technology to try and create innovative solutions, and then find the audience for them. Some organisations were online, others were not.

The drive to establish online e-commerce for example lead to a huge boom in online retailing and retail driven technology being developed. Those that got it right, were those that focused on the people experience, and included personalisation making it a very comfortable relationship. This resulted in massive success for people like Amazon.

More recently the explosion of social media, in the People To People quadrant, had lead to some great innovations in social connectivity, IM, and presence technology (for better or worse). We’ve seen the two giants of social media Facebook and Twitter gain massive following. Why, because it’s about the people. It’s about their desire to be heard, and be part of a larger society. The Internet and it’s associated technologies have begun to enable a truly global society.

So where are the huge success stories for the People to Employers and People to Government sectors?  In many cases there is a lot of technology investment in these areas. But there hasn’t been that explosive take-up of the services. I believe, that this is due to many factors, but some of the key ones are the people aspects.

So far, the people to employer and people to government relationships have been focused on providing information to people in a ‘push’ model in the case of Government, and a ‘pull’ model in the case of private sector.  Government has gotten pretty good at publishing data for people to consume. But, is it in a useful format, and updated frequently enough for people to feel that it’s more than a token gesture?

In our corporate lives, we can remotely access our corporate networks to retrieve information, and now collaborate on documents, hold meetings, and be connected with our colleagues even when we are on the road. This has enabled us to work from home if the kids are sick, or collaborate with our peers around the globe without having to be in the office at 2am. I think that this is a People to Employer Success Story.

Perhaps their are some success stories here, but they aren’t paraded out in front of the world because they are just work, or just government stuff. I commend the AU, US, and EU governments for trying to get a good Open Government data plan in place such as and Sure we can sit back and find issues with it, but at least they are trying.

Most of us take for granted that government should be supplying us this data quickly and easily but there is a huge machine at work. The issues around data privacy and protection are complex. There are also the issues with data being shared or collected from multiple agencies. Exacerbating this problem is the fact that different agencies often have different ways of storing data. So it’s a complex orchestration of cats to get data published at all.

Now, should citizens care? No. From a people focused lens, Government is one big thing. We don’t care, and we shouldn’t have to care, that there are multiple agencies involved. People should not be burdened with the political and empire building issues that occur between agencies which make this problem of open data harder. The Governments, should not expect people to care, and should understand that to a citizen, Government is just one big marble building that takes our tax money and provides services and information.

What people do need, is patience and understanding. This isn’t an easy problem to solve, but it is being worked on. With the rise of Cloud Services, Mobile Technologies, and Bandwidth, the infrastructure for the Digital Society is in place. Now that we have this infrastructure, we can begin to really take advantage of it.

To truly enable a Digital Society, People have to be the focus of the services offered. People that want access to their world anywhere, at any time from any device.

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