Accelerated globalization is powered by information technology through advances in communication. The Internet, beginning in the 1970s and expanding through the World Wide Web in the 1990s, has now grown to drive social networks and e-commerce (Bourgois et al., 2019, p.234) across over 5 billion international users (Digital Around the World, 2022). By enabling people anywhere in the world to talk and do business any time, information technology accelerated globalization. Information technology also enabled a global labor pool for international companies and enabled 24-hour daily operations in shifts across different countries (Bourgois et al., 2019, p.238). This 24-hour operations on a global basis is the “follow the sun” model, a global workflow where issues and projects are passed from staff at the end of their work day in one country and picked up by staff at the beginning of their day. San Francisco, Paris, and Hong Kong, for instance, can handle three shifts in a “follow the sun” workflow (Ramroop, 2017).
What is the role of information technology in globalization? Information technology is an enabler and a catalyst, enabling communication and business anywhere and anytime. Video calls, chats, and emails are instantaneous. The world is smaller and more convenient because of IT. Distance is irrelevant. Connecting over 5 billion people, who average 6 hours and 37 minutes online (each user), there is a large audience of people wanting to work online (Digital Around the World, 2022).
The digital divide is a gap between people that do not have Internet and computer access and people that do have access (Muller, 2022). Digital divide is affected by several factors such as availability of Internet infrastructure and computer hardware, affordability of access and equipment, quality of service (and speed), relevance (does the community understand what the Internet is for?), and additional inequalities like cybersecurity and digital literacy (Muller, 2022). In rural areas in developed countries, the digital divide is amplified. People in urban areas have many choices for high-speed Internet, while people in rural areas have only expensive satellite options available to them.
Jakob Nielsen described three stages of the digital divide as being the economic divide, the usability divide, and the empowerment divide. The economic divide refers to the fact that some people can’t afford to buy a computer (Nielsen, 2006). This extends also to the fact that some communities can’t afford to deploy high speed Internet access for the population, and that some people can’t afford high speed Internet access. The usability divide refers to the level of complication of technology so that many people cannot use the computer and Internet technology. Literacy skills are the biggest factor in this phase, as low literacy and low accessibility websites yield low usability. Older users that did not grow up with technology are also a factor in usability. Most technology is not designed with usability by older users in mind. The empowerment divide refers to the fact that a small number of users actually take advantage of the opportunities that technology creates. This is reflected by participation inequality, which indicates that 90% of users on the Internet are watchers and do not contribute. 9% of users contribute occasionally and only 1% of users contribute regularly (Nielsen, 2006).
Information systems ethics refers to applying a set of moral principles and code of conduct to digital technologies (Bourgois et al., 2019, p.251). This applies to privacy and consumer data, software and media copyrights, access to other people’s computer systems, demeaning or bullying other people, and degrading quality of life (Bourgois et al., 2019, p.252-256). Information system ethics promotes and practices ethical use of information, including how information is stored, shared, processed, accessed, and used (Tatum, 2022). Companies have varying ethical viewpoints regarding collecting, using, and selling off customer data collected in technology.
Bourgois, D.T., Smith, J.L., Wang, S., & Mortati, J. (2019, August 1). Information systems for business and beyond (2019). Saylor Foundation. https://digitalcommons.biola.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=open-textbooks. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0.
Digital Around the World. (October 2022). DataReportal. Retrieved from https://datareportal.com/global-digital-overview
Muller, C. (2022, March 3). What is the Digital Divide. Internet Society. https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2022/03/what-is-the-digital-divide/
Nielsen, J. (2006, November 19). Digital Divide: The 3 Stages. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/digital-divide-the-three-stages/
Ramroop, T. (2017, May 4). What is the follow the sun model? Advantages + strategy. Zendesk Blog. https://www.zendesk.com/blog/improve-remote-support-follow-sun-model/
Tatum, M. (2022, October 6). What is Information Ethics? Retrieved from https://www.easytechjunkie.com/what-is-information-ethics.htm