Almost six out of ten Norwegians (57 percent) are sceptical towards making use of new technological solutions. This was shown in a study from BI Norwegian Business School.

RESEARCH @ BI: Service innovation

Increased use of self-service technology can contribute to reducing public expenses, increase consumer satisfaction and free up ‘caring’ hands. This sounds like it might be too good to be true.

The public sector is facing big challenges the next few years. There are limits to how much more money we can spend on financing public services. In order to be able to meet the growing demand for public services, we need to innovate and look at new solutions for the public sector.

These are central topics in the research project Value-driven Service Innovation at BI Norwegian Business School. Within private services we have seen that the introduction of self-service technology has led to both lower costs and increased consumer satisfaction.

Enterprises with a website only, such as Skandiabanken, finn.no and the web shop Komplett are all at the top when it comes to the most satisfied customers.

Eager users of technology

It may appear that Norwegians are eager users of technology. It would be good news for the public sector if citizens could perform more public services on their own or with less assistance from publicly employed providers of services.

But it’s not enough that many of us have a computer and internet access, we also need to be ready to adopt new technology and new public self-service solutions.

Professor Tor W. Andreassen, Associate Professor Line L. Olsen and Postdoctor Giulia Calabretta from BI Norwegian Business School have conducted a study of how ready Norwegians are to adopt new technology.

The market researchers interviewed a representative selection of 501 Norwegians using questionnaires. More than nine out of ten (93 percent) of those interviewed had a computer at home. Even among the oldest in the group (those over 65), almost eight out of ten (78 percent) had a computer at home.

We are technology optimists

The study shows that Norwegians are very optimistic towards new technology, but not everyone is equally ready to adopt new technology.

Technology optimism grows with a higher income and level of education. Scepticism towards adopting new technology increases with age.

Among the elderly who actually use technology, close to six out of ten (58 percent) say they feel quite comfortable with technology.

The researchers divide the population into three groups based on their willingness to adopt new technological solutions;

  • The innovators
  • A hesitant/doubtful group
  • A dilatory group

The three groups are all basically optimistic towards technology.

Many are hesitant

More than four out of ten Norwegians (43 percent) are innovators, and are very ready to adopt new technology.

The rest of the population, close to six out of ten Norwegians are either hesitant/doubtful (28 percent) or dilatory (29 percent). The last group places a greater emphasis on the possible pitfalls of technology, and score highest on uncomfortableness and security regarding new technology.

“We are optimistic about new technology, but are more reserved about making use of it,” Andreassen, Olsen and Calabretta summarise.

According to the researchers, it will be important to take into account the different attitudes among groups of citizens when it comes to making use of new technology. When new electronic solutions are being introduced, it will be important to adapt the form and content of the message to suit different target groups.

“The goal must be to help everyone up onto the learning curve so they are comfortable with the new solutions when they arrive. Also, it’s important to look at the interface between technology and the different user groups,” the research trio recommend.

Reference:

Andreassen, Tor W., Line Lervik Olsen, Giulia Calabretta (2010):  Elektroniske offentlige tjenester. Magma issue 6/2010 (in Norwegian).

Comments?:

Send your comments and questions regarding this article by E-mail to forskning@bi.no

Text: Audun Farbrot, Head of Science Communication at BI Norwegian Business School (E-mail: forskning@bi.no)

Questions about this article? Other questions? Contact BI Business Review

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