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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saving the Economy, the Digital Perspective

The UK's "Digital Champion," www.lastminute.com's co-founder, Martha Lane Fox, commissioned a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers to find out how much money families can save by being online. Fox commissioned the report to help her determine the best route for getting the poorest Britons online by 2012, but found a number of interesting points along the way.

Households not already online could save between $500 and $1100 annually, depending on their circumstances. Unemployed workers could increase their earnings by nearly $25,000 in their lifetime, while workers already online can still make nearly $10k more. The study also showed how the European government could save a whopping £900m a year if everyone not online right now got online and made just one electronic contact per month!

The UK's interest in becoming digitally-capable has surged in recent months. They have declared it a matter of national security, among other incentives. Ms. Fox' role as Digital Champion is not exactly clear, but comes in the wake of Britain's "Digital Inclusion Minister" office. From the onset, Fox has made the 4 million poorest constituents her focus.

While many of her initiatives are traditional in nature - such as working with retailers to develop packages aimed at these strata, and other financial incentives; organizing peer-to-peer networks where the formerly digitally-deprived mentor others; and so on - some of her approaches are refreshing and quite brilliant in their directness. For example, she is trying to get daytime soap operas to introduce Internet-related storylines.

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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