This study shows that our lives are already decisively shaped by digital networking. In nearly all the areas of life examined, digitization and networking play a very important role. In all areas – and particularly in the areas leisure and well-being – online and offline activities are very closely intermeshed. Despite the high degree of digitization, both experts and consumers expect the importance of digitization and networking in all areas of life to increase still further.
The future of digital living
Technical progress, increasing levels of network coverage, greater bandwidths with higher data speeds are factors which will expedite the progress of digitization and networking. The strong interest of consumers in the broad range of services presented here indicates quite clearly that they are ready for the next step toward a digital future.
What shape that this digital future could take becomes clearer if one takes a look at the digital avant-garde. The way this group of consumers – early adopters and technical pioneers – use digital media shows how the mainstream will be using them in the near future. The avant-garde already live a digital lifestyle, a networked life that obviously simplifies their everyday lives, enables them to exchange information more easily and makes it easier to keep up with friends, family and business contacts. The analyses show that the digital avant-garde are significantly more satisfied with their lives than other, less networked consumer groups. 81 percent of the digital avant-garde fully agree or agree with the statement, “All things considered, I am very satisfied with my life,” in contrast to only 71 percent of the digital mainstream and only 66 percent of the digital latecomers (see Figure 51).
Although satisfaction with life is determined by several factors, and although this survey draws no conclusions about the relationship between cause and effect, the conspicuous and statistically significant variances in satisfaction in the different consumer groups would appear to suggest that the perceived degree of satisfaction with life is in fact related to the subject’s participation in digitization and networking.
This is further backed up by the fact that 64 percent of the German respondents agreed with the statement, “Today’s Internet services and technical devices enhance my quality of life.” Agreement with this statement is found in all three consumer groups: digital avant-garde, digital mainstream and digital latecomers all perceive digitization and networking as positive factors.
An interesting indication of what our digital future could look like can be extrapolated from the analysis of the digital avant-garde, the two other consumer groups and a cross-country comparison. Germany, France, and Great Britain represent typical European markets in this study, while Hungary represents eastern Europe. The findings from South Korea give us insight into the behavior of Asian users and the United States provides a glimpse across the Atlantic.
In some of these countries there is a much higher degree of digitization and networking than in Germany. Of course, due to cultural and infrastructure differences, the findings of the international comparison cannot be directly applied to Germany and its future, but they do serve to pinpoint specific trends.
SOUTH KOREA takes the top spot in many areas of life. A variety of applications and services, e.g. uploading and sharing videos on the Internet, are already used with far greater frequency and more naturally than in Europe. The trend toward mobile working is also far more widespread in South Korea than here. Design and lifestyle, and particularly on-trend devices, are very important for South Korean consumers. FRANCE also has a high degree of digitization, particularly in the areas leisure and well-being. France has the highest number of games consoles. For 76 percent of the French respondents, Internet and telecommunications are essential and indispensable for organizing their leisure activities, more than in any other country. In HUNGARY, digitization is especially important in the areas work and study. 69 percent of those surveyed stated that they depended on the Internet and telecommunications in their work. In no other country were the Internet and telecommunications so important for work and study. GREAT BRITAIN leads the field in terms of social networking, with around 61 percent of the respondents belonging to a social network. The UNITED STATES is the frontrunner in terms of mobile use of technical devices: 68 percent of the respondents here use their devices when on the move. The realization that the Internet can make life easier for older citizens is also most widespread in the United States: 64 percent of the respondents agreed with this statement, significantly more than in the other countries.
So what kind of services will be part of our digital future? One of the key findings of this study is that these services must fulfill specific requirements: they must be intuitive and easy to use, fast and secure. They must be convenient and also offer personalized content. Data security and a trusted service provider are more important for consumers than price.
This coincides with the vision of the future sketched by the experts, who see the following challenges as being crucial for tomorrow’s digital services: intuitive usability, seamless integration, personalized, context sensitive user interfaces and data security. Let us look forward with anticipation to what the future of digital living holds.