Globalization, Nielsen’s Digital Divide, and Information Systems Ethics

                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. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0.

Digital Around the World. (October 2022). DataReportal. Retrieved from

Muller, C. (2022, March 3). What is the Digital Divide. Internet Society.

Nielsen, J. (2006, November 19). Digital Divide: The 3 Stages. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from

Ramroop, T. (2017, May 4). What is the follow the sun model?  Advantages + strategy. Zendesk Blog.

Tatum, M. (2022, October 6). What is Information Ethics? Retrieved from

Published by Art Ocain

I am a DevOps advocate, not because I am a developer (I’m not), but because of the cultural shift it represents and the agility it gains. I am also a fan of the theory of constraints and applying constraint management to all areas of business: sales, finance, planning, billing, and all areas of operations. My speaking: I have done a lot of public speaking in my various roles over the years, including presentations at SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and Central PA Chamber of Commerce events as well as events that I have organized at MePush. My writing: I write a lot. Blog articles on the MePush site, press-releases for upcoming events to media contracts, posts on LinkedIn (, presentations on Slideshare (, posts on the Microsoft Tech Community, articles on Medium (, and posts on Quora ( I am always looking for new places to write, as well. My certifications: ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Web Application Security Professional (CWASP), Certified Data Privacy Practitioner (CDPP), Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), VMware Certified Professional (VCP-DCV), Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE), Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE), Microsoft 365 Security Administrator, Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator, Azure Administrator, Azure Security Administrator, Azure Architect, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, ITIL v4 Foundations, Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner See certification badges on Acclaim here: My experience: I have a lot of experience from developing a great company with great people and culture to spinning up an impressive DevOps practice and designing impressive solutions. I have been a project manager, a President, a COO, a CTO, and an incident response coordinator. From architecting cloud solutions down to the nitty-gritty of replacing hardware, I have done it all. When it comes to technical leadership, I am the go-to for many companies. I have grown businesses and built brands. I have been a coach and a mentor, developing the skills and careers of those in my company. I have formed and managed teams, and developed strong leaders and replaced myself within the company time and again as I evolved. See my experience on LinkedIn here:

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