Perspective

The Digital Society Index

The digital economy is one of the few growth certainties in an uncertain world. Or is it? Dentsu Aegis Network's Digital Society Index explores this question and so more.

Dentsu Aegis Network has the ambition of becoming a 100% digital economy business. We believe that in an uncertain world, the digital economy is one of the few, clear growth opportunities that businesses can rely on.

However, in recent years the debate about the digital economy has changed. While there is clearly huge potential to deliver economic benefits for both business and society at large, discussion has turned to the risks that accompany this shift. For example, the impact on jobs and skills; on inequality; on personal health and well-being. Across many dimensions, it’s clear that there are many unintended consequences of the digital economy that must be addressed.

This is why we’ve developed the Digital Society Index. In collaboration with Oxford Economics, we’ve analysed how well a selection of advanced economies are making the transition to the digital economy across three dimensions: dynamism, inclusion and trust. We believe that these dimensions are the key ingredients of a sustainable, healthy digital economy that not only creates rapid growth from its digital sectors, but also enables that growth to be spread widely across society within an environment of trust.

Critically, the analysis also includes the views of 20,000 people around the world so that we can understand how they perceive the transition to a digital economy. However, our results here show that people are less positive about the digital economy than we might have expected. This matters because the digital economy is people-led. People drive innovation through demand for tech-enabled products and experiences. They embrace digital platforms primarily for eCommerce and entertainment, and increasingly to access healthcare, education and government services. And they develop and deploy the skills that fuel digital businesses. As a result, the pace with which we transition to the digital economy will largely be dictated not by technology itself, but by the people who use it.

We need to take action. And our analysis identifies a number of priorities to drive positive engagement with the digital economy: skills training, transparency around data usage and more flexible working processes and structures. But there is also more business can do through traditional marketing and communications channels. First, brands need to build trust through greater openness. Transparency is emerging as a key differentiator as people realise there is a risk that you can trust something that isn’t true. Second, use data to drive relevance and increase the positive emotional impact of content, products and services. And third, put purpose at the heart of the brand proposition. Being clear about how you contribute to society can only help build trust as your business becomes more digital.

For business leaders and policymakers, this analysis serves as a reference point for how well countries are realising balanced, sustainable growth from the digital economy. But it also acts as a barometer of peoples’ sentiment in relation to that growth journey. It is intended to stimulate debate and action, framing our future in a digital economy that works for all.

Click here to download the full "The Digital Society Index" PDF.