Getting digital and social is now a fundamental aspect of business. Fact. Personally and for many others it is also increasingly a way of life.

Striving to find the balance is key for me, an approach I advocate. I love being physically active and by my standards know I still need to increase the time I spend being active.

Did you know three in five adults in Scotland aren’t active enough to benefit their health? And that Scotland has the lowest life expectancy and biggest gap between those with the best and poorest health outcomes in Western Europe?

I for one want to make sure I don’t add to those numbers. I went for a cycle and a (short!) run last week, plus a little bit of gym work. I love my endomondo app using GPS to track how far and where I have run and cycled. A small example of how digital is integrated into my life. Such habits cannot be ignored by any sector.


I’ve said before, I do challenge those people who want organisations to get digital by ‘just doing it’ though. It is critical to have a planned and targeted digital presence backed up by a strategic, integrated and measured plan, drawing on an array of creative skills. This is especially true as digital platforms expand and public usage increases.

Go figures

Who says usage has increased? Don’t believe me, read the stats. According to the latest from Ipsos MORI, the numbers of adults aged 15+ from their sample connecting to the internet using smartphones has increased in the last 12-18 months, since Autumn 2011, by around 40%.

The percentage using the internet in that time has also increased, up 4% to 84%, and those with broadband at home has also risen, up from about 72% to 76%.

Since Autumn 2011 there has been a consistently increasing upward trend in how many have been using the internet for emailing, shopping, banking, downloading of music and social networking. And according to ONS, more than double the number of adults accessed the internet every day in 2012 (33m) than in 2006; four times the number made online ’phone or video calls in 2012 than 2007; and in 2012, 32% of adults accessed the internet every day using a smartphone.

The Guardian even reports that, ‘UK smartphone penetration will reach 78% of mobile phone users in 2016…overtaking the US’. The stats and trends speak for themselves. Digital cannot be ignored. Even my 84 year-old Gran is looking at the opportunities.

Incredibly however this feels like just the beginning. We’ve not even scrapped the surface of the possibilities and potential. There is clearly a huge benefit to society and business to getting people digitally active and digitally engaged.

Love is in the air

For me that also means wider access to WiFi. Demographically, for example, the least likely in society to have access to the internet are socio-economic groups DE, women especially, which is significantly less than any other (Ipsos MORI).

So it seems to me that there is a risk of actually increasing inequality of access to information and opportunity if wider provision isn’t made more readily available. Many bars and businesses now offer free WiFi and I predict more and more this will become the norm. It offers a competitive edge but soon it will become the norm, and if you don’t offer WiFi then it’ll be a weakness.

Rural areas are even more affected, with mobile reception patchy at best. I recently visited Cardrona, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders, and was surprised to find that the hotel I was staying in charged for their WiFi, at costs which were not at all competitive. Needless to say I never paid, not great when WiFi is the only way of getting online.

In my instance their policy clearly affected my perception of their image and no business in the hospitality sector can afford to ignore such damage. I couldn’t help but share my pain though, without naming the chain, and it is fair to say @FTGary supported my position.



Love is in the air

I agree with Paul Taylor. Free WiFi without email registration across all sectors can support wider access to digital services: ‘If the internet is the fourth utility – why are we making it so difficult for people to get online?’ he asks.

I’m pleased that Scotrail are now starting to roll-out WiFi in 2013 on trains connecting the main cities in Scotland, I hope that is eventually expanded to their entire network; and I’ll also be an interested observer as John Popham encourages all UK hospitals to offer free wifi to patients, a tricky issue to address in the current economic climate.

Maybe introduction of the 4G network will be the tipping point for WiFi, allowing greater numbers of users to access a hotspot at a faster speed. It’s expansion will however take investment and technology so don’t imagine it will be publicly available for free for some time yet.

So in the meantime, looks like you too will be asking, what the W*Fi?

Take it easy

Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Viktor Hertz via Compfight cc

2 thoughts on “What the W*Fi?!

  1. Great post and thanks for the mention. It’s an interesting link you make between exercise and wifi provision. I have to gamify the experience of going for a run or to the gym with health apps to encourage me to do it – I know I’m not alone! It’s these wider effects of a lack of digital access that must be considered – not just “people can’t search for things”.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Paul. Since I thought about this then blogged, I’ve been more attuned to the topic and noticed far more commentary about making digital opportunities more accessible, including WiFi – a hot topic for sure.

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