We all have a ‘hierarchy of needs’. But is technology meeting them?

microchip

(Brian Kostiuk, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Michelle Lau, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network China


The world looked very different in 1943, when the psychologist Abraham Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs” model was first published. The world was just in the early stages of realising the potential of computing power, which codebreakers would use to help bring an end to the world war.

Fast forward to 2019, and we stand on the brink of another seismic shift: the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Amid a picture of further disruption and change, how can this model of human motivation help us understand the needs people have in today’s digital economy?

This question sits at the heart of our recent report, the Digital Society Index 2019: Why human needs must power Asia-Pacific innovation. While providing a strategic view on how well countries in Asia-Pacific are creating a digital economy that works for all in society, it also provides a very personal way of understanding how technology is meeting fundamental human needs.

Maslow for a digital age

Drawing on a global survey of over 43,000 people across 24 countries, our analysis explores what an individual requires to achieve their potential in today’s tech-driven landscape. Taking inspiration from Maslow’s needs model, the framework comprises four dimensions:

Our digital needs framework

1. Basic needs

First, there’s the basics. People need access to digital infrastructure, in terms of quality mobile and internet networks, as well as trust in data privacy and security. 54% of people in Asia-Pacific believe this need is being met, above the global average of 49%. With many markets in the region leapfrogging developed economies in terms of tech infrastructure (just look at the spread of mobile payments in China, for example), people are clearly feeling the benefit.

2. Psychological needs

From smartphones to wearables, digital technologies have huge power to connect us to new communities, access health services and monitor our vital statistics. But there’s a flipside. The potential negative impact on our mental health is increasingly well documented. Striking a healthy balance in personal use of digital technologies is a critical need today. However, just 28% of people in Asia-Pacific believe this need is being met – significantly lower than the global average of 38%.

3. Self-fulfilment needs

Meeting the need for fulfilling employment in a disrupted future relies on having the right skills, experiences and workplace opportunities. More than half (51%) of people in Asia-Pacific believe this need is being met, versus 45% globally. But there are big gaps across the region. In China, 68% of people believe that their formal education has given them the tech skills they need. In Japan, only 18% agree.

4. Societal needs

As the world becomes more interdependent and interconnected, how optimistic people are that the digital economy will be a positive force for society is increasingly important. Do people believe technology will create jobs for them, solve global challenges and, overall, have a positive impact on society? For people in Asia-Pacific the answer is yes: 59% believe this need is being met, versus 49% globally.

These results sound a note of caution to business leaders and policymakers in the region. People in Asia-Pacific are generally more positive that their needs in digital are being met. But the impact on psychological needs (health, well-being and quality of life) is a notable exception. Technological progress appears to be exacting a personal price.

What this tells us about consumer behaviour

Taking action to meet people’s digital needs isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also the smart thing to do. Our analysis shows a strong correlation between meeting self-fulfilment and societal needs, and the likelihood of engaging with digital products and services. Put another way, the more digitally savvy you are – or the higher your levels of optimism in the future – the more likely you are to shop online, stream music, use an app to hail a taxi or access banking services, for example.

However, higher levels of digital literacy, set against a backdrop of low levels of trust in how personal data is used, are having some unintended consequences. In the year before our survey, four out of ten people globally said they had taken steps to reduce the amount of data they shared online, more than a quarter had installed ad-blocking software and over one fifth had actively limited the amount of time they were spending online. But these are also the people who are most likely to engage with digital products and services. The best customers are now the hardest to reach.

Digital needs and Leadership 4.0

The Fourth Industrial Revolution requires strong leaders. But what does that look like today? Transforming industry and business models, creating the right international frameworks and policies, and ultimately enabling societies to adapt to the digital world is no small feat. But it is possible.

To achieve it, as Klaus Schwab has noted, leaders must leave their egos at the door. Their strength should be founded in empathy and cooperation – “a different, more human kind of leadership”.

Our digital needs framework is a way of providing a human-centric lens to leaders that can focus their strategies and increase their understanding of today’s consumers. It also reminds them: technology’s future potential rests not on leaders’ shoulders, but on the other seven billion sets of shoulders around the world. By putting human needs at the heart of what they do, leaders can safeguard innovation for generations to come.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brain drain 2017: why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

‘Internal security’ or how to compromise citizens’ rights and also make huge profits

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

Vegetarianism is good for the economy too

Misinformation and growing distrust on vaccines, ‘dangerous as a disease’ says UNICEF chief

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Why is Grexit again in the news? Who is to pay for Eurozone’s banking problems?

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

To achieve the Great Reset, we will need more than just the actions of the powerful

Migration policy affects attractiveness of OECD countries to international talent

6 charts that show how Japan’s economy stacks up as it enters a new era

MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation

DR Congo President and UN chief meet at a ‘historic moment’ for democracy in the country

EU budget: Commission proposes €1.26 billion to reinforce the European Solidarity Corps

Strengthen inclusion, participation of people with autism to ‘achieve their full potential’ says UN chief

Italian banks: It’s Rome’s turn to confront Berlin’s aggressiveness

Draghi strives to control the unruly exploitation of financial markets by banking leviathans

Eurozone: How safe are our deposits? Which banks will survive?

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why

Growing up near green space is good for your mental health as an adult

Here’s how data could make our cities safer

New York and London mayors call on cities to divest from fossil fuels

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by Ethiopia plane crash which killed 157, including at least 21 UN workers

What little Cameron got in Brussels seems enough to keep Britain in the EU

Thailand gave healthcare to its entire population and the results were dramatic

Finland should do more to improve job prospects of low-skilled youth

Syria: Civilians caught in crossfire, UN refugee chief urges Jordan to open its border

5 steps businesses can take to protect air quality after COVID-19

One third of poorer countries face both undernutrition and obesity: WHO report

This is why retail is such a sore point in India-US trade relations

What matters most to young Europeans?

Only the Americans are unhappy with the ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine

Greece begins a new chapter following the conclusion of its stability support programme

ECB’s new money bonanza handed out to help the real economy or create new bubbles?

Digitalization is changing banking – These 3 trends will help shape its future

G20 LIVE: G20 Antalya Summit in Numbers, 15-16 November 2015

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

Air pollution, the ‘silent killer’ that claims seven million lives a year: rights council hears

How banking with blockchain can stamp out corruption and increase financial inclusion

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

Why CEOs need to become activists in sustainability

The European Commission to stop Buffering

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

The blackened white coat of the doctors

UN says ‘many humanitarian achievements’, one year after ouster of ISIL from Mosul

Brexit must not put UK university research at risk

Volkswagen getting away with it in Europe

Energy: EU funding for priority projects should reflect 2050 climate objectives

Healthy habits to help you cope with health anxiety

‘End the ongoing atrocities’ against people with albinism in Malawi, say UN rights experts

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

The relation of deforestation and respiratory diseases

Deutsche Bank chased away from US, threatened with more fines

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

International Criminal Court acquits former president Gbagbo of war crimes in Côte d’Ivoire

How emerging markets will shape Africa in 2020

More Stings?

Advertising

Comments

  1. we are so addicted to digital screen these days.. and as soon as technology is getting better.. we’ve become more digital.. Today even the advertisement are happening on digital or out of home screens .. there are no banners or posters now.. everything is happening digitally.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s