Survey Study Finds That Groups Are Using Software and Internet Technologies But Want More

Clubs, groups and organizations play a significant part of the general population’s life outside of work and family. A survey was recently conducted to gain a better understanding of clubs and organizations trying to get online. The survey was conducted over the last 2 months and targeted random people who at least had email addresses. Given that this is somewhat of a self-selected audience, the results should not be viewed as indicative of the sentiment of the general population, however note that 2007 statistics show that over 70% of the United States are Internet users according to Nielsen/Netratings.

The results are as follows:

Group Participation – We’re Active

When asked what type of groups or clubs that people have been a part of, the most common answers were in “hobby or special interest group”, “charitable/volunteering and civic organizations”, “sports teams” and in a “school-related club (either as a child or parent)”. Each of these four areas had 52% to 55% of responses. The next tier of groups was in “online-only social networks” and “professional development association” at around 43%.

Surprisingly, religious and spiritual was low at 22% which contradicts some general research on groups where in the United States, religious groups are the most common of real world clubs/groups/organizations.

Of the people who responded, 51% are either serving or have served as an organizer, leader, officer or manager of a club. People in general do take on leadership roles in groups and it seems unlikely that a small group of people are the only ones starting and leading groups. A significant percentage of people are taking or have taken a leadership role.

When asked how many clubs they are currently a part of, the largest response was “two”, with 23%. The graph followed a bit of a bell curve with “one” and “three” being the next highest. 25% of respondents were currently part of five or more clubs.

Technology Usage among Groups – It’s High

Not surprisingly, the majority of respondents are using email for group communication (84%). Interpolating from the data, 70% of these are using a group email list such as Yahoogroups to communicate.

52% of groups are using personal productivity tools like Microsoft Word and Excel for planning, documentation, etc. And 30% of respondents have a private website for their members only.

Only 6% of respondents are not using any technology at all.

Satisfaction Level – Moderately Satisfied

When asked their level of satisfaction with the technology solution(s) they are using, the majority of respondents (51%) said that technology was sufficient but with it could do more. 29% said that technology was sufficient with no future need desired and 15% were very satisfied with technology and that it has helped them be very productive. Only 5% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.

When asked what they wished the technology solutions could do better at, 45% responded that they wish the solutions wouldn’t cost money and 38% said they wish it didn’t require technical resources to set up or manage. Only 21% wanted more functionality. 38% wanted their group technology to be more easy to use.

When asked what they wish technology could be used to help them, the largest response (32%) was to communicate better. To communicate better meant a variety of things, such as keeping everyone informed and up to date and keeping everybody on the “same page”. Ease of use and scheduling (at 19% each) was the next, with the most frequent concern that some members of the club were not computer fluent.

Not surprisingly when asked what their three most pressing concerns were the need to get members of the club better connected at 48%. A close second was to increase participation at 45%. A tie for third place was the need to plan events and other such activities better as well as the need to share information better so that members know what’s going on.

In Summary:

At least among the Internet user population, the use of technology for helping groups is high. There are a broad range of point solutions that help groups be more productive and organized. Technology is doing mostly a sufficient job but more than half don’t feel it is meeting their needs and wish it could do more. The most common ways to improve were to offer a lower cost (or free) solution that was easier to use. Improved communication and improved organization were the most often cited desires for technology to help them with. They hope that this helps their most pressing concerns of increased connectedness within the group and improved information sharing and planning within groups.

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Meeting the Millennium Development Goals – Information Technology As a Tool For Development

As customary to my write ups, I try to reflect on sundry issues as it concerns Nigeria and the rest of the developing (sounding cynical; underdeveloped) economies. As we are still struggling to catch up with the rest of the world mostly the West on every issue that regards development of values. Laying credence to this fact can be seen in the way we use the internet, the GSM communication system and every other innovation that is Information Technology based. Now back to the issue that gave rise to this write up, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The Millennium Development Goals are sets of eight point Agenda aligned by the United Nations to see it’s underdeveloped members with a low Human Development Index (HDI) and low per capita income (as most of these countries live an average of a dollar a day) to become developed by the target year 2015. The motion was adopted by 149 leaders from different parts of the Globe and adopted by 189 countries in the year 2000. These agendas or goals were derived from the United Nations Millennium Declaration in view of the various problems still plaguing the developing world

The millennium Development Goals are the world’s answer and targets for addressing extreme poverty in various dimensions; such as income poverty; lack of adequate shelter, hunger; and disease among others, while at the same time promoting Education, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

Now to the crux of the matter, these millennium goals looking at our peculiar situations and conditions, how can it be attained? Now we are in the age of information and as such it is inherent that we look at how we can as nations yet to be

reckoned in world economy, use the information at our disposal to make this a reality by the target year 2015. The internet, GSM Technology etc, has come to stay with us, and information technology remains the only veritable tool that can be used to usher in a new dawn where the basic human right such as the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security as well as gender equality and empowerment of women can be attained on a platter. It has been noticed that countries like China and India inundated with population explosion but embraced the IT idea as the only veritable tool to enhance their human development, has witnessed a geometric increase in their per capita income and overall human development index, available statistics and other forms of data and economic indicators can lay credence to this fact.

Now if I may digress a bit, I’ll state here that for the millennium goals to be achieved by Nigeria and the rest of the developing economies; urgent steps should be taken to implement the following:
computer literacy programs beginning from kindergarten to all levels of the individual’s development
funding of information technology institutes by the government as well as private sector
partnering with developed nations by encouraging exchange programs mostly at the tertiary institution level increased funding in medical researches and other IT based medical programs
The agricultural sector should experience an increment in funding of all its programs most especially IT based researches so as to report a massive output in production for local consumption as well as export.

The menace faced by the continent as a result of hunger and poverty, HIV/AIDS pandemic, depletion of renewable energy and resources etc, can be addressed as stated below if information Technology can be enhanced in every facet of our economy and the general polity.
POVERTY AND HUNGER ERADICATION: Poverty and hunger remains the biggest scourge ravaging the African continent, but with the advancement of technology, with information technology and the Internet, food produced in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Asian Tigers can be easily sent to Africa and other parts of the world where it is needed. During wars and strife, like experienced in the Nigerian/Biafran war that lasted between the periods of 1967-1970, there was a dearth of food and medical attention most especially on the Biafran side as a result of an information blockade by the Nigerian Government.

But with the improvement of Information technology, no matter where such problems are, the satellites will pick up signals and therefore do all that is required to be done to reduce the problems associated with lack of food and other supplements. As a local importer based in Nigeria or any part of the developing world, you can get hooked up with big time farmers based in Europe or the United States etc via the internet through the company’s website and email address. Agricultural produce can be easily exported saving the cost that would have been originally spent on flight tickets, hotel booking and reservations, taxes etc and also eliminating the role of the middle man which greatly saves the cost of production and importation.

HIV/AIDS (PLWHA): The HIV/AIDS pandemic currently pervading the African continent with Nigeria and South Africa trailing India in that order, can be deduced from lack of adequate information, but with the recent development as regards information technology, this scourge can be well taken care of. The introduction of mobile clinics and diagnostic centers whose activities in remote and rustic areas most especially, was made possible by the information technology phenomenon, where a doctor in a far away clinic for example a doctor in John Hopkins University hospital in the United States can with the use of sophisticated gadgets diagnose and cure patients via a satellite and a modem installed both at the clinic in America and the remote location. With this development, HIV/AIDS patients or PLWHA (PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS) and other deadly illnesses can now be managed, as the constraint caused by distance has been removed with the advancement in information Technology.

POWER AND ENERGY: As part of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations, power and other renewable forms of energy has been understudied over the past decade or so, since fossil fuel deposits continue to deplete with replenishing, it becomes pertinent for countries whose economies are centered on it to advance and diversify their economy so as to be among the league of nations with high human development index, and if one should ask, how else can this be achieved if not by information technology. Recently a group of scientist built an automobile that can be powered by air, amazing it sounds; one of the wonders of IT. More discoveries and innovations will be made, as earlier discoveries like space science has improved virtually all sectors of the economy of Nations like the United States, Russia, and Europe in medicine telecommunication, military, etc.

From the for going, one cannot overemphasize the importance of information Technology as a tool for human and resources development, just as the industrial revolution of the 18th century that ushered in a new dawn that has remained evergreen in the annals of history, so will it create an unprecedented and indelible mark that will remain evergreen in the sands of time.

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