Netizens in developing countries embracing tech

Enterprise Innovation editors
28 Jan 2015

Internet users in developing countries are widely enthusiastic about benefits of technology while those in developed countries have concerns about emerging issues, a Microsoft survey shows.

“Respondents overwhelmingly say that personal technology is making the world better and more vital,” said Mark Penn, Microsoft EVP and chief strategy officer. “But there is a digital divergence in the attitudes regarding how technology will affect (internet users) going forward.”

Penn was referring to findings of a survey that covered the views of 12,002 internet users in 12 countries - Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the US.

The survey found that majorities in all 12 countries surveyed think personal technology has had a positive impact on their ability to find more affordable products and start new businesses. They also say it has benefited social activism, as well as innovation in business.

Also, a majority in nearly all of the countries thinks personal technology has improved productivity.

Compared with the previous survey, more respondents said technology has had a positive impact on transportation and literacy, while fewer said it has benefited social bonds, personal freedom and political expression.

In 11 of the 12 countries, most internet users said technology’s effect on privacy was mostly negative. Majorities in every country but India and Indonesia also said current legal protections for users of personal technology were insufficient, and only in those two countries did most people feel fully aware of the types of personal information collected about them.

Further, 60% of respondents in developing countries, compared with only 36% in developed countries, think personal technology has had a positive impact on social bonds.

In developing countries, 59% think technology-enabled, sharing-economy services — such as Uber and Airbnb — are better for consumers than traditional services, such as taxis and hotels. By contrast, only 33% in developed countries think so.

Only 59% of people in developed countries, compared with 85% in developing countries, say they are interested in working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

And notably, while 77% of women in developing countries feel encouraged to work in STEM fields, only 46% of women in developed countries do.

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