Havas Research Challenges Us to Innovate for the Unplugged

Havas Research Challenges Us to Innovate for the UnpluggedDominique Delport, CEO of Havas Media France, presented an exclusive research last Tuesday, with an unused angle on the Internet market: the ‘Unplugged’ – French disconnected people.

Who are the unplugged?

Havas Media distinguishes 4 main segments:

  • “Minitélistes”, 2m individuals, 4% of French population (over 15): a majority of them is over 65, they have grown with the Minitel (pioneering online service), and are reluctant to adapt to new technology;
  • “Excluded”, 1,9mindividuals: they are under financial pressure, they may have been connected for a while, but they can’t afford it anymore. They have children who feel isolated because they can’t connect at home;
  • “Disconnected 2.0″, 1,7m individuals: they’re looking for relief, voluntarily cutting the cord from Facebook and Twitter, they’ve learned to master the online demand, and save time for themselves;
  • “Anxious”, 3,6 individuals, 7.1% of French population : it includes two different types of anxiety, a fear of privacy loss, and Big Brother comme back; and those who step aside the Internet, anticipating an unbearable intrusion.

The main learning is that unplugged people represent 9,5 millions of citizen (20 % of French population) which obviously means the digital divide is far from diminishing. Moreover, its impact is tougher: in time of crisis, the population who is bound to arbitrate upon consumer expenses, might also be cut from the opportunity of online promotions and rebates. It harms the older population (75% of people over 70 are not connected) and the youth population as well, 20% of which has a monthly revenue below €1200.

Whether it is a groundswell or a rippling wave, a sustainable sign of advertisement overload or a temporary social ‘fatigue’, it surely raises the question for Havas Media of helping its customers advertisers on reshaping their consumer messages, and adapting their brand communication to this significant section of the population.

Meaningful innovation

Technological acceleration, explosive density through a growing profusion of functionalities on digital handset, social media ‘shout’, no one can escape the vertigo and uncertainty it causes, and some anticipate the next coming of technological singularity.

This is our responsibility as innovators to bring meaning to the technological path, to cherish humanistic innovation, and enable the majority of society to benefit from it.

Havas Research Challenges Us to Innovate for the Unplugged

I’m a fan of collaborative and social innovation, and the different forms it embraces:

  • Low-tech” or “frugal” innovation like crowd operated innovations (Lewatmana, a real-time information network based on SMS), Juggad innovations, Grass root innovations and Honey Bee Network are innovations designed by the people for the people. ‘Community-led solutions for sustainability’ like ‘Plenty’, a new kind of local money, or ingenious mechanical tools crafted by individual self-starting capacity, innovation from the bottom-up capture creativity directly from the field. Reverse innovation (@vgovindarajan) is another facsinating approach in this domain.
  • Collaborative consumption is a terrific play ground for Social Innovation: “swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting are being reinvented through technologies and peer-to-peer marketplaces in ways and on a scale never possible before” states Rachel Botsman.

Though I have worked as a forerunner in bringing to market the latest network technologies such as ADSL, IPTV, Video On Demand, Smart TV, transmedia video player, Social TV and Social Culture components, I never thought of them as ‘infrastuctures only’, but considered them as services, and even ‘emotional connections’! I’m a strong believer in technologies which have a meaning in people’s life, and create a positive tangible impact. Next topics like 4G LTE, NFC, Connected Objects, Smart Cities, Big data, are not an end in itself, but a mean for a better world, a basis for knowledge sharing, intense cooperation, and fairness. Connected society is in essence humanistic.

Designing with, rather than for

It is all the more important now that the Internet has become pervasive and as Bertrand Cathelat, enthusiastic sociologist of the Web, puts it: “virtureality is here: virtuality is coming into reality” and the majority of our acts or services  involve a digital dimension. We have reached a point where digital is a social norm, and where there is no off-line anymore. One cannot bear digital exclusion. Digital exclusion would be like a modern resurgence of illiteracy.

To keep in mind the objective of designing innovation as a service for people, strategic marketing of services is a good framework: thus, in many services, customer is part of operating the service, innovate implies mastering the user participation. Collaborative design relies on a similar assumption.

Havas Research Challenges Us to Innovate for the Unplugged

To bring back the ‘excluded and anxious unplugged’, imagination is required: do we have to think of public places for Internet use and knowledge sharing like public libraries? shall we invent ‘Internet scribes’ or ‘fact checkers’ linking unplugged people to the digital world, as we discussed during the Havas presentation? Imagination is greatly at work in the 27th French region set-up by Stephane Vincent (@la27eregion): France has 26 geographical regions, the 27th is a fantastic lab for innovation initiatives related to public tranformation, a sandbox to experiment social design in the field, and further extend successful pilots!

Credits: Havas Media, jasonrenshaw.typepad.com, Grassrootinnovation.wordpress.com, 27ème region

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future of TV - Leading by Innovating Nicolas is a senior VP at Orange Innovation Group. Forward thinker, he created international digital BU, with a focus on interactive, social and smart TV.  He graduated from Supélec and HEC Business School, completing a thesis on “Rapid Innovation” which he implemented successfully at Orange through “component innovation” path. He blogs at nbry.wordpress.com and tweets @nicobry

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2 Responses to Havas Research Challenges Us to Innovate for the Unplugged

  1. Congratulations on raising these issues! I am glad I clicked through from Twitter. You reveal a number of issues with social media that those who have bought into it, the ‘fast-and-furious users’, are missing. I suspect that, along with the 20%, is a still larger number of people who dip in to internet access intermittently but don’t make it central to their lives. The complexity is certainly daunting, with services from Goggle+, Facebook and Pin It! to YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter all wanting you to link to them and give them access to your records. This complexity of forums and their relationships may be intended to simplify, but the process still bogs down. Truly understanding and designing for the 20% will draw in this broader group and, in the end, enhance value for the larger Internet community.

  2. Pingback: Innovation Excellence | Innovation Quotes of the Week – Oct. 14, 2012

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