Earlier this year, ewn.co.za carried reports showing that parents of school children feel they have failed them because they are not digitally competent, so could not enroll their children in desired schools using the online medium.
When organisations are confronted with the question of the digital divide, they typically downplay the reality that users first need to find an internet connection and then miraculously acquire the skills with which to use the online services or download and use associated applications.
Internationally there is a massive drive for public and private organisations to become more effective and efficient by migrating their services to the digital world. Examples are online application forms, banking, learning and sales, to name just a few. Companies wanting to make the transition or broaden the reach of their offerings in this way have large budget allocations to the development of the required hardware and software to achieve their particular objectives.
The mere provision of technological tools unfortunately does not guarantee successful implementation towards digital migration objectives. Successful implementation requires that their target audience has the necessary know-how to confidently use the hardware and software.
To achieve the full scope of benefit, therefore, companies must devote time and resources to the digital activation of clients and other end-users. Only then can it be considered effective service delivery in the digital world, otherwise what they will find is that they reach even fewer people than with paper-based systems.
Only 5 % self-activate
CanPro is a company that digitally activates hardware and software and has found that a mere 5% of people activate themselves on new technology as a result of their prior learning and experiences. This means that if a company is launching a new app or online services such as those of the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), that requires parents to register learners or banks requiring online transactions on apps, only 5% of their existing customers will be sufficiently competent to do so without support.
Digital migration plans are incomplete if they do not include budget that allows for training interventions in order to ensure clients have the know how to use new technology. This does not just apply to software but also to data-enabling hardware such as WiFi.
Speaking with the insight gained from activating over 600 000 people in a variety of communities, CanPro says that while self-activation remains at 5% for the first three months that training is available, it increases to 10% within six months as a result of peer training and support.
CanPro supports organisations with digital migration of their business and, alongside this, the activation of their technology. To achieve this, CanPro has developed a cloud-based platform called WorkPro to manage youth enterprises and their staff as digital trainers. The application, which is available on smartphones and tablets, structures their tasks, records their data, tracks their progress, and validates their services, allowing them to invoice for successfully delivered work. It further provides the organisation with a live BI app to view progress throughout the project.
Figure: A Youth Enterprise representative training a resident how to use Ivanplats’ community portal
Organisations can thus contract youth enterprises to deliver on core business outcomes such as digital migration whilst also contributing to national goals such as enterprise, youth, community and skills development. As more and more life-critical services become digitized, opportunity for realistic and fair uptake of those services must be created.