Making the connection

How social media and smartphones have changed the landscape of the digital divide
Bashar Dahabra is CEO and founder of
Bashar Dahabra is CEO and founder of


Bashar Dahabra discusses how social media and smartphones have changed the landscape of the digital divide.

A recent survey conducted by Cisco, sought the answer to the question, ‘What’s the first thing that you do in the morning?’ The survey, which was conducted across 3,600 college students and workers aged 18-30 from 18 countries, showed that nine out of ten respondents reach for their smartphones and check for updates in email, SMS and social media sites—all of these even before getting out of bed.

The Cisco study just proves how the smartphone has given us the ability to be fully connected to the digital realm. In fact, the survey also shows that throughout a whole day, 85% of women and 63% of men compulsively check their smartphones for updates. True enough, these app-packed smartphones and bandwidth busting broadband connections have now become the norm. Internet connectivity, especially through these modern day mobile devices, has shaped the mindset and behavior of today’s workforce and consumers. The growing popularity of smartphones has helped usher in what futurists back then had predicted; an always-connected, always-on society.

In the Middle East, smartphone penetration is being forecasted to grow faster than any other region in the world. The UAE alone is predicted to achieve 70% smartphone penetration by the year 2016, reflecting a 47% increase from 2012. Industry experts have continuously maintained that the region is the future of mobile connectivity itself, further predicting massive growth in the number of mobile subscriptions over the next few years.

Moving away from the numbers, the appeal of today’s smartphones lies in what these mobile devices can do, which includes features like taking photographs, checking your email, reading the news, watching and listening to media content, finding your way to places you need to get to and of course, making phone calls.

Smartphones have become an essential tool for us, be it for personal or business use. Owning a smartphone gives us a sense of connectivity—with family and friends with what’s going on in the world around them. But what makes the smartphone a useful tool? The answer definitely falls under the phone’s built-in features, its technology and the apps that you load onto it.

Social media and the smartphone have become key elements that have changed the landscape of the digital divide. A smartphone and the social online sphere are important resources today, with the ubiquitous nature of a smartphone now synonymous with social media. It’s no longer just about connecting with friends and family; the possibilities go beyond that as social media has emerged as an effective tool for businesses to connect with their customers, target audience and their stakeholders.

Today, we are seeing a maturation of the social media market with a renewed focus on building strong business models and monetization streams. In short, social media is an integral part of any business plan, strategy, or initiative for any organisation these days and it has transformed the way information is exchanged.

Bashar Dahabra is founder and CEO of

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