Imec.digimeter 2019: How will Flanders accept the next digital transformations?

(20-02-2020) Flemish citizens struggles with the impact of technology on their lives. These feelings will impact the way they adopt new technologies and services.

Our Imec.digimeter has been mapping trends in the adoption and use of media and technology in Flanders since 2009. However, digimeter also studies the attitudes and perceptions Flanders has concerning digital technologies.

Media and entertainment was one of the first sectors in which Flemish citizens experienced digitalization. From monitoring the use of media, digimeter found some remarkable insights. Usage of new media services like Spotify and Netflix have been rising. According to the Diffusion of Innovations-theory1 these platforms have now reached a critical threshold of people willing to pay. Other services, like sharing platforms, are also reaching this threshold. Therefore, 2020 can be the year in which we will talk about the acceleration of the platforms.


Rise of the platforms

Netflix used its first mover advantage in Flanders and has grown a lot, but competitors are showing up. Services like Netflix and Disney+ seem to substitute each other. A quarter of Netflix-subscribers are interested in Disney+, to the point where even half would give up Netflix.


Netflix wave

Traditional media sources seem to have found their place in this vastly changing environment. While some channels like the newspaper and radio seem to stagnate, national and regional television have even had slight growth. It is clear that new streaming services do not substitute traditional media. Flanders is combining these new services with traditional ones.

As such media is consumed on different screens, and also different platforms. These changing media consumption patterns led us to two segmentations. The first shows us how Flanders is consuming video. Are they cordcutting? How many Flemings have adopted disruptive habits? The second one shows us how news is consumed. How do Flemings combine digital news with traditional sources?

Throughout the years, we notice an increased struggle with a ‘love-hate’ relationship with technology. The majority of the Flemish population is interested in digital media, and believes that technology has a positive effect on our lives. Yet, Flanders is not blind to the downsides of digital innovations. There is a part of Flanders that shows dependency on both their smartphone and social media. Besides dependency, several paradoxes also emerge. These paradoxes reveal dual feelings about news, advertisements and privacy. Based on these feelings and the perception Flemish have about their own digital skills we identify five profiles that can be placed on a ‘love-hate’-continuum for technology. These profiles show us how Flanders perceives digital technology today, but also indicates how new innovations will be perceived and accepted in the future.

New digital transformations (eg. AI) have the potential for great change. The good news is that there is a big enough group of Flemings to carry new innovations. However, results show us that innovations must enter the market in an accessible way, without scaring people away, so that we can evolve to an inclusive digital society. To achieve this, policy makers and citizens must find an equal pace to adapt to and implement these new innovations.

 Diffusion of Innovations


1 Diffusion of Innovations (Everett M. Rogers, 2003)