4 minute read 12 Mar 2021
Connected citizens tech skeptics

Meet the Tech Skeptics

Authors
Arnauld Bertrand

EY Global Government & Public Sector Consulting Leader

Working with governments to build stronger administrations for impactful public policies. Passionate about leading teams to guide public performance, innovation and service.

Julie McQueen

EY Global Government & Infrastructure Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst with deep knowledge in public sector and social research, strategy and thought leadership. Passionate about improving public services to create positive social impact.

4 minute read 12 Mar 2021

To deliver more effective digital government, public service providers need to understand and cater for the Tech Skeptics.

This persona description forms part of the EY Connected Citizens series, which outlines seven global citizen personas that governments must plan for when developing digital services.

Tech Skeptics are older and on lower incomes. They are relatively dissatisfied with their lives and fear that things will get worse for future generations. Few believe that today’s young people will have a better life than their parents. Tech Skeptics are worried about their financial security, distrustful of government and unconvinced about the benefits of technology. They use technology for basic tasks but do not believe it will solve society’s problems. So, while they have basic digital skills, few see the point of developing them further. Tech Skeptics tend to be opposed to data sharing, even if there is a clear purpose.

Tech Skeptics are our fourth largest segment, at 14% of the total population, and are most widely represented in Germany, France, the UK, the US, Mexico and Japan.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 1

Meet Patricia – a Tech Skeptic

Patricia is a representative of our Tech Skeptics segment. She is a widow with grown-up children, who is shortly going to retire from her job in the human resources department of a logistics company in Manchester, England.

Patricia worries about the state of the world and her own place within it. This is partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which she fears will cause long-term damage to the economy, public services and social support.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 2

She is particularly concerned about her own financial security. Her pension plans were damaged by the financial crisis over a decade ago and her retirement finances are yet to fully recover. Because of these concerns, Patricia has been saving as much as she can each month, preferring to forgo non-essentials so she can supplement her pension for the future and not have to rely on her children. 

Patricia also worries about whether she will continue to have access to high-quality, affordable health care as she gets older and starts to need more services. But safety and security are paramount, and she would like the government to take steps to tackle crime and prepare for any future crises, whatever form they might take.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 3

When it comes to technology, she is skeptical about the benefits, viewing it as something that mainly works to the advantage of the rich and powerful, rather than ordinary citizens like her. Despite this, she owns a smartphone, laptop and TV, which she uses for a limited range of tasks such as keeping in touch with friends and family, and online shopping. But Patricia sees little point in improving her digital skills. She’s not convinced that technological innovation is the key to meeting the economic and social challenges that the world faces.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 4

This skepticism is partly borne out in Patricia’s dealings with public services. She is currently a relatively low user of such services, but does sometimes access transport and health facilities. While she is satisfied with the health care services she receives, she is cynical about other public services, generally mistrustful of government and wants to see more value for money in public service provision. Whenever she does have to contact a government department or agency, she prefers to call and talk to a human being, rather than try to communicate online.

Although Patricia would like it to be easier to access services, she is against the government using single digital citizen IDs, especially if these were to be linked with personal details relating to income. She is also a strong opponent of government sharing her personal data – either internally or with private companies – even where there is a clear purpose, such as combatting criminal activity or terrorism. She thinks any benefits of data sharing would be canceled out by the threat to her privacy and security. She is similarly wary of sharing her personal information with businesses when she performs transactions.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 5
Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 6
Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 7

Unsurprisingly, Patricia is unlikely to welcome new technology solutions in her interactions with public services. She would avoid having video calls with her doctor and does not want to use apps or chatbots to offer her views or make a complaint.

Connected citizens tech skeptics chart 8

Question for government: How can government help the Tech Skeptics who are reluctant or unable to use digital tools?

  • Technical notes about the Connected Citizens study

    These profiles are a representation of what a typical member of each segment might look like, based on the data from the EY Connected Citizens survey, constructed to illustrate some of the key characteristics of the segment. The Connected Citizens survey was carried out by Ipsos MORI for EY between July 2020 and September 2020. Interviews took place online with 12,100 participants of working age across 12 countries. Quotas were set by age, gender, region and working status in order to achieve a representative sample in each country. Data was weighted by age, gender, region, working status and education to correct for imbalances in the national samples. As the survey was carried out online, samples in emerging markets are likely to be more urban, educated and connected than the overall population. All surveys are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.

Summary

Tech Skeptics are distrustful of government and (unlike Privacy Defenders) skeptical about the benefits of technology. They use technology for basic tasks but believe it has relatively little to offer society. So, while they have basic digital skills, few see the point of developing them further. Tech Skeptics tend to be opposed to data sharing, even if there is a clear purpose. They believe that government must design services appropriate to their digital skill level while actively addressing their concerns about the beneficial impact of data and technology.

About this article

Authors
Arnauld Bertrand

EY Global Government & Public Sector Consulting Leader

Working with governments to build stronger administrations for impactful public policies. Passionate about leading teams to guide public performance, innovation and service.

Julie McQueen

EY Global Government & Infrastructure Lead Analyst

Lead Analyst with deep knowledge in public sector and social research, strategy and thought leadership. Passionate about improving public services to create positive social impact.