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Being smart: online engagement is redefining society’s expectations

We are living through a period of rapid social change. The way we work, family structures, and the way we spend our leisure time are changing fast. These changes are forcing organisations to reinvent their business models and review their relationships with their customers.

It is the combination of social change with technology that is causing a rapid and far-reaching impact on organisations providing services. Typically, technical barriers fall fast and changes in human behaviour lag behind. However, at the moment, dramatic levels of product and service innovation from some of the leading industry players are being met by rapid consumer adoption.

The UK provides a perfect example of how technology is enabling social change. Research released by Ofcom shows that:

  • 71% of UK households are now connected to broadband 

  • UK consumers are now spending almost half of their waking hours watching TV, using their smartphones and other communications devices   

  • over half of 16-24s state that their media activity is simultaneous (eg making phone calls and using the internet at the same time).

In particular, services such as Twitter and Facebook (which now account for 23% of people’s time on the internet) and the always-on nature of broadband is creating demand for real-time interactions, and increased impatience with those experiences that are not immediate.

The rapid adoption of the mobile internet and smartphones has only acted to reinforce these trends. According to recent research by the Pew Internet Project, nearly half of all US adults use laptops to go online, while 40% of adults use the internet, e-mail or instant messaging on a mobile (up from 32% in 2009). The use of non-voice applications on mobile phones has also grown dramatically, whether it is taking photos, messaging, internet access, playing games or listening to music.

This technology is already influencing how organisations act. Governments have begun to open up their data to the public and some 40% of US adult internet users say they have gone online for raw data about government spending and activities. Real-time applications are altering how individuals interact with government at all levels. Citizens now expect instant access to services and are increasingly viewing the internet as the most effective platform for political engagement.

The web is also changing the way businesses in many industries interact with their customers. People are becoming more accustomed to sharing information and ideas through social networking sites and product reviews. This increasing consumer reliance on peer reviews when planning purchases is forcing changes in advertising, brand behaviour and the new product development process.

This trend is only set to continue. It is consumers who led the adoption of cloud-based services. It is consumers who have grown accustomed to always-on, instant access mobile connectivity. In order to meet their growing expectations, and ensure they remain relevant in a changing world, organisations will increasingly look to adopt smart approaches to their products and services.

To speak to a PA expert on what smart means for your organisation, please contact us now.