Features

How the digital economy is improving women’s access to global markets (en)

7 juillet 2016
ITC Nouvelles
Social media is making technology more accessible for women in the world of business

No matter what city you are in these days you will notice people with their heads down, staring at their smartphones. One German municipality is installing warning lights in the pavement to keep distracted pedestrians from walking into oncoming trains. The safety hazard aside, what is striking is how much time people spend on their phones. Digital media and smartphones are everywhere, in every city, town and village across the globe. Consumers are connected everywhere so those institutions and businesses connecting with them are benefiting. Those that aren’t are left behind.

Organizations such as Women in Global Business (WIGB), an Australian government initiative, are intended to inspire and support women-led businesses with exporting goods, exploiting digital technology and connecting with and engaging customers. WIGB programmes are offered via digital technology platforms. For example, the programme was one of the early adopters of social media in government, which has resulted in a large, loyal customer base that often only connects through social media.

In the same way, businesses seeking to trade internationally can only do so effectively if they have a globally accessible digital footprint. Digital communication needs to be delivered in multiple languages, be culturally sensitive and be open for business 24/7. Getting started in international business has never been more accessible for business owners than it is today.

PURCHASING POWER

Research shows that men are primarily driven by technology, whereas women drive consumption, making over 80% of purchasing decisions. In Australia connected women navigate the digital landscape with confidence, outperforming men on indicators such as media multitasking, social connection, sharing of content and number of hours spent on devices.

According to the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report, 57% of Australians use social media every day, spending 12.5 hours weekly online on average. The rise of consumer usage has influenced and encouraged the rise of SME businesses going online. The same report states that 48% of small, 54% of mediumsized and 79% of large businesses in Australia use social media to increase their client base and generate sales. This issignificant increase on 2015 figures of 30% for small, 32% for medium-sized and 55% for large business.

It is important for prospective exporters to tailor their digital communication to the needs of each market. For example, whilst delivering the joint WIGB-International Trade Centre project to improve the access of Indonesian

businesswomen to global value chains, the project team kept in touch with stakeholders via social media as it is the preferred method of connection in Indonesia. As Indonesia is one of the world’s most mobile-centric countries and is in the global top 10 of smartphone ownership, it makes sense to communicate and connect with stakeholders and womenled businesses via mobile apps rather than emails, which often go unanswered.

The digital economy has changed forever the way organizations do business and those who have not adapted will be left behind.