Who’s afraid of digital technology?

Data analytics is one of the most interesting tools in information. Whether you’re using it for research purposes or your business, databases have provided a wealth of knowledge to verify facts from fiction.

At one of the meetings we had, I was explaining to the group that digital technology needs to get embraced by everyone. Or get left behind.

Let’s put a few facts in order.

The Philippines is a relatively young population. Of the approximately 107M Filipinos in the world, more than half are below the age of 24. Which makes about 50M 25 years old and above. Because the aging population live longer lives today, almost 10% are 60 years old and above with males outliving females. This rounds off approximately 40%, or around 40M of Filipinos between 25-59 years old.

Let’s use the general rule that 25 is the age for working adults and that 60 is retirement. If only 40% or 16M Filipinos in this segment are gainfully employed, that means that a large majority or about 97M are dependent on the 16M working people.

(I purposely did not include those less than 25 or above 60 as contributors to the economic gains of a family. It is important to remember that these two groups shouldn’t be working yet, or anymore, respectively. Hence, factoring them in for purposes of contribution to gainful employment is mathematically wrong and deceiving.)

A younger population – Generation Z

Referenced from indexmundi.com for the Philippines demographic profile, 2018, one-third or 33.39% or 34M Filipinos are between 0-14 years old.  19.2% or about 20M Filipinos are between 15-24 years old.  This very large pediatric population is not a driver of economic growth.  They are dependent on the working class.  The total dependency ratio of the Philippines is 58.2 – with the youth dependency ratio at 51 and the elderly dependency ratio at 7.2.

Dependency ratios are used to compare the percentage of the total population (classified as working age), that will support the rest of the nonworking age population.  As the percentage of nonworking people increase, those who are working are likely subject to increased taxes to compensate for the larger dependent population.  A high dependency ratio, like the Philippines, means that those of working age, and the overall economy face a greater burden in supporting a segment of the population.  In this case, supporting the young versus the old is much higher (and costlier) in the Philippines.

The take home message is obvious.

We have a large class that is not gainfully employed and yet are dependent on technology for communication, learning, and information dissemination.  At an era where technological advances have made strides in leaps and bounds, the very large young dependents rely on their parents or working relatives for gadgets and other paraphernalia to connect with the digital world. They are additional unnecessary  expenditures for an average family in order to stay “connected” or “wired”.

But staying connected we are.  One should not be surprised at global data showing the Philippines as the texting capital of the world or where there is a higher number of gadget/cellphone ratio to people in the country.

The young population is driven by technology, or should I say, tech savvy.  You can see how your 5 year old manoeuvres an iPad.  You can’t say the same with your 65 year old grandmother.  After all, we live in a digital age.

The digital dinosaurs

I remember less than a decade ago, many of my “senior” consultants would tell me that they were “too old” to embrace any gadget.  They said that when it came to digital technology, they were dinosaurs.  I recall telling one of them that she either sank or swam with the tide.  They were afraid to embrace technology.  To them, it used to be easier when pen, paper, and other transactions were face-to-face.

Yet 95% of the digital dinosaurs, including my 81 year old mother embraced technology.  I think many of them didn’t think that they’d make it over another decade.  I told my mom, she’d have to catch up with technology if they were to survive another decade.  And swim she did.  She now has a Facebook, Instagram, and email account.

The remaining 5% died along the way.  They were right.  They didn’t need to catch up with technology.  Life had its way of preserving those that needed to move on with the times.

Into the future

Today, everything is simply in the “air”.  Let’s put it this way.  All that information is in “cloud”.  Bank transactions are made in a few seconds.  Payment is just a click away.  You can schedule your meetings and your watch will remind you of the event a day before.  Music is on Spotify or iTunes. Virgin records has ceased operations. If you get lost, there’s always Google Maps. Checking into your flight is a breeze as you can pick the best seats hours before you check in at the airport. Lifestyles are about Tablet.com or Agoda or Expedia.  Messages are exchanged with Telegram or Viber.  Texting isn’t a norm anymore.  People chat instead. My mom who can hardly travel with me anymore, can still enjoy viewing the Aurora Borealis when I Skype with her while I am in Norway.  I don’t need to bring my wallet.  After all, they’re on my phone.  When the weather sucks, I don’t need to go to the supermarket when my fridge is empty.  There’s Honest Bee.  Sending a few things to my friend will not entail my having to go from South to North of the city.  There’s LalaMove. To make reservations with restaurants, I can do Booky and still get P500 off my bill.  And my reference books are on my tablet or my phone.  My watch tells me not only the time, but that it’s time to stand or stretch or breath. Conferences and education don’t need to have my body physically THERE! I can earn my degree or additional continuing professional education through Webinars.

The business models have been modified to technological advances.  After all, the wealth of information of data analytics has come at no better time and better use than today.  Businesses that did not grasp this were left behind.  Nokia and Sony have been overtaken by HuaWei and Oppo.  Amazon has become larger than Walmart and Target.  Sears has declared bankruptcy.

Unlike drugs, the addiction to digital technology has no cure.

Once you’re dependent on it for every little thing you do – breath, stand, eat, sleep, take 10,000 steps, write, research, find, play, present, vote – there’s nothing else that can take you back to doing what you used to do.  Only your fingertips would literally do the walking.

And the way the world will be in the next decade is one that will evolve according to technology.  No matter our age, we need to adapt to the times.  It is one exciting future for all.  And a scary one as well.

Remember the statistics on demography I started with? That’s going to be your next generation working class and customers.  They’re all wired to connect with one another.  Or wired to destroy each other.

…after all,  digital tech can build an empire or destroy a nation.

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