The study has a multi-level structure which integrates quantitative and qualitative elements. The study was launched with a think tank which ICT experts were invited to attend. Respected academics and seasoned industry experts met in Munich to discuss in depth the latest developments in and around the topic of “Working Connected in Business and Society” The aim of the debate was to identify the key ICT trends for the next few years and to analyze special developments in selected key sectors. The think tank was headed by a team from the research and strategy consultants zehnvier and the Institute of Communication Economics at the Ludwig Maximilian University headed by Professor Dr Tobias Kretschmer (see Figure 2-1).
In the second phase, the emphasis was on empirically mapping the standpoints of business and society on the issues identified by the think tank. Comprehensive individual questionnaires were prepared and used to interview three different target groups:
- ICT executives in enterprises with more than 1000 employees.1This target group included individuals who are actively involved in information and communication technology purchase decisions (computer hardware, software and telecommunications) for their enterprise or who have a say in these decisions.
- IT users in enterprises with more than 1000 employees. This target group included individuals who regularly use information and communication technologies in their professional work (also called “IT users” or “employees” in the following).
- Consumers, representative of the online population of the country in question.2
To provide an international comparison, representatives of these three target groups were selected in five different countries: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain represented the typical European markets, which together account for more than 50 percent of the European gross domestic product. The United States survey provided insight from the other side of the Atlantic. In total, 1,559 ICT executives, 1,009 IT users and 1,336 consumers were surveyed.
1,559 ICT executives who are actively involved in information and communication technology purchase decisions for their enterprise or who have a say in these decisions were interviewed for the study.
All interviews were conducted online. The individual country samples are large enough to allow comparisons between the countries to be made, thus shedding light on the differences in how ICT is used in the world of work in these countries (see Figure 2-2).
Each survey module captures different perspectives of networked working in business and society. The think tank and its cross-disciplinary participants from the areas of academics and business got the ball rolling by providing important insight into the significance of information and communication technologies in a macroeconomic context.
In contrast, the survey of ICT executives aimed to evaluate the present and future significance of ICT from a corporate or industry-specific perspective. To do this, each respondent was asked to assess the significance of various different aspects of ICT in their company today and how important they expected these aspects to be in five years. The focus was on topics that had emerged as particularly significant in the think tanks and in secondary analyses. The main areas that were examined were collaboration, flexibility, mobility and business evolution, i.e. future fields and industries that have been and will continue to be strongly shaped by ICT. Other topics that were examined were green IT and various facets of the issue of ICT security.
The survey of IT users focused on the actual utilization and the perceived usefulness of a variety of ICT solutions in everyday working situations. In the context of the study, this survey examines the micro-level of each actual job. The focus here was also on “the areas” collaboration, flexibility, mobility, green IT and aspects of ICT security.
The aim of the consumer survey was to uncover potential future uses for new ICT solutions and to examine consumer interest in and willingness to use specific services. This allows the present utilization and fields of application of ICT in companies to be compared with consumers’ willingness to use them.
The combination and comparison of different perspectives draws a comprehensive picture of the status quo and development of connected working, and the significance of ICT for business and society. A key position for the future development of the ICT sector is occupied by the user industries. One of the special focuses of this study is on these industries. One of the special focuses of this study is on specific service-oriented user industries; these include the health sector, public administration and the education sector. The automotive industry is another sector that uses ICT to a very high degree The study takes a closer look at these four sectors as examples of the user industries.
To examine individual aspects of these four industrial sectors in greater detail, a total of 101 in-depth telephone interviews with ICT executives in German enterprises in these industries were also conducted. In total, 25 executives each from the automotive industry, the health sector and public administration, and 26 executives from the education sector were interviewed.
The interviews started by asking a few brief questions aimed at recapping the basic parameters of what role ICT plays in flexibilization, collaboration and mobility, in order to validate the initial results. The next set of questions focused on the industry-specific significance of ICT today and in the future. In the automotive industry further questions were asked to determine the potential contribution that ICT could make to tackling the key challenges faced by the industry. Additionally, the potential of ICT and the Internet for new in-vehicle service, entertainment and security offerings was discussed. In the health sector the questions focused on the role of ICT in key issues such as cost saving, emergency medicine and caring for elderly and chronically ill patients. The respondents were asked to assess the advantages and disadvantages of an electronic health card and the significance of ICT for health insurance companies. In the public administration sector the focus was on the potential of ICT for efficiency increases, integrating public offices in networks, electronic citizens’ services, eParticipation, etc. In education one of the key aspects was the role of eLearning in a variety of sectors, but also the contribution of ICT to securing education funding and quality, as well as increasing equality and comparability in education.
1 To ensure that the results from each country could be compared internationally, all the executives in this category were representatives of enterprises with more than 1000 employees..
2 The consumer survey was structured to ensure that the results are representative of the Internet population of each country. All figures provided in connection with the consumer survey are based on the Internet population of the country in question and the following age groups: Germany 18 to 64 years, France 15+ years, Spain 16 to 64 years, United Kingdom and USA both 18+ years.