The internet has sometimes been referred to as the great equalizer yet Federal Communications Commission figures from 2017, indicate that 30% of households did not have even a slow broadband connection.
During this coronavirus pandemic, the media has chronicled the gulf between rich and poor in coping with disruptions to school, and work and differences in the ability to access telemedicine services.
This has led us reflect on the preparedness or vulnerability of our local Jamaican community. Is the pandemic the stick that will help to bridge this divide? We asked Chris Daley, who is committed to digital transformation, for his observations on the digital divide. His observations follow:
The Limits of Current Developmental Models
Last February, as I was notified that a new book by one of my virtual mentors, the late Clayton Christenson was published, without hesitation, I grabbed an audio copy and started consuming his wisdom. I noticed it was co-authored by a name that looked Nigerian. So early the next Sunday morning, I got his email and shared my love of the book, and my interest in interviewing him regarding it.
My wish was delightfully answered. Ten minutes later, he responded from Nigeria! He was on travel but would be glad to do the interview when he returned to the US. A month later, it was my privilege and pleasure to talk with Mr. Efosa Ojomo, coauthor of a must read book entitled The Prosperity Paradox, how innovation can lift nations out of poverty.
This is not another ginned-up theory, but solid findings based on extensive research conducted in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. This research identified the limits of current development models and unveiled a new framework for economic growth based on entrepreneurship and market-creating innovation.
Root Causes of our Digital Divide – Cultural Malaise as a Barrier
You may be thinking why such a detailed prelude, but it speaks to the root cause of our digital divide. Sure, there is a material resource gap. However, the more damaging gap is the “thinking” gap.
Let me be bold enough to tread on thin ice and declare that cultural malaise is one of the biggest barriers to digital transformation.
Now, allow me to elaborate before your virtual pitchforks become unsheathed. We live in an age of exponential change. It is called the digital disruption age as it is driven by the trinity of computing power, wireless revolution, and memory technologies.
Our thinking to embrace and leverage this digital opportunity is lagging. If our thinking remains one dimensional, based on nostalgic yearning, we will struggle to fully exploit and apply this digital technology. We need to think multi-dimensionally when presented with groundbreaking digital improvements to our situations.
Successful Digital Leaders Recognize the Importance of the Right Digital Culture
You see our culture is the glue that binds strategy, technology, processes, and organization. Culture will have technology for breakfast and burp with satisfaction not understanding that you need to invest technology seed corn with a future harvesting focus.
Take an introspective look at how you are spending your discretionary time during this virus siege. Are you seeking to learn or are you seeking to be entertained? Are we as leaders and consumers of technology, rather than feeding our curiosity, also asking the “how” questions that will lead to breakthroughs? Digital transformation will demand changes to our mindset, curiosity, strategy, technology adoption, processes, and organizational structures.
Culture is the glue that brings it all together. Without addressing the human element, digital transformation will struggle to either get off the ground, will slow down or stall. Culture change, however, is normally molasses-in-motion requiring patience and persistence, as it doesn’t happen overnight. Successful digital leaders recognize the intrinsic importance of the right digital culture to create and sustain a competitive advantage in the future.
What will be the New Normal?
When we recover from the disruption of the coronavirus, we will have a new normal. Success will belong to those who lean into the fear, leverage their spiritual resources to stay focused on the prize, the prize of a digital Jamaica, and a future-centric Jamaican Diaspora.
It’s 2030 and your grandchild asks what you did to overcome the pandemic of 2020. I hope your story will be a reflection of bold action during a consequential moment in our history.
BS Electrical Engineering, Masters Computer Engineering, Company Owner, Digital2Grow
Board Member, CEOs, (nonprofit mentoring)