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Narrowing the Divide

U.S. Hispanics lead the way in breaking through the digital divide.

By Alice Gomez and Lucia Matthews | Diálogo PR, San Diego, CA
Sindya N. Bhanoo | The New York Times

STORY TOOLS

Technological competency is the key to professional relevance in today’s society.  Unfortunately citizens are not competing on an even playing field.  The digital divide serves as a barrier to success for marginalized groups in the business world.  However, Hispanic market trends indicate this U.S. segment is making great strides towards minimizing the gap.  These patterns foreshadow a bright future for U.S. Hispanics. 

Access to and aptitude for technology is necessary for full participation in the U.S. business system.  Workers must demonstrate some level of computer proficiency for consideration for almost any desirable position.  Employers who adopt advanced technological innovation can cut down overhead, improve efficiency and more accurately target audiences.  Those well-versed in technology enjoy a significant edge over competition.

Simply put the digital divide is a metaphorical separation between the haves and the have-nots.  Certain groups are privileged with more access to the tools of the information age than others.  Limited access can manifest in the form of economic hardship or cultural inclination.  The gap reinforces power imbalances as it restricts crucial skills and knowledge of cutting-edge business practices needed to succeed.  Minority groups tend to be the most vulnerable to the inequities of the digital divide. 

Over the years the gap has narrowed.  Technology is finally penetrating all population segments.  More than 56 percent of U.S. citizens have access to the Internet.  While this by no means marks the dissolution of the digital divide, it is a definite step in the right direction. 

U.S. Hispanics are taking lead in narrowing the divide.  They are young, online, early adopting media mavens who own more businesses than ever before.  These patterns in recent Latino activity suggest an enhanced presence in U.S. business and increased technology literacy. 

Internet usage among Hispanic citizens has skyrocketed.  In February of 2009 online Hispanics exceeded a record breaking 20.3 million, representing 11 percent of the U.S. population.  At a growth rate four times the national average, Hispanic Internet usage will soon cross the divide.    

Hispanics use technology in sophisticated ways.  Once community members gain access they tend to be ‘media meshers’ and utilize multiple channels and devices.  Latino technology users are more likely than other groups to text message, search the web through mobile phone and browse social networking sites.  Savvy technology habits will play a role in advancing Hispanic business. 

Another contributing factor to the future of Hispanic success is their youth.  Younger people are often early adopters comfortable with technology innovations.  With 50 percent of the population segment under the age of 26 years old tomorrow’s Hispanic business people will be fluent in advanced technologies. 

Evidence for achievement can be seen in growth of Hispanic-owned businesses.  Entrepreneurial trends indicate Hispanic-owned business will increase 41.8 percent to 4.3 million in the next six years.  Total revenues are expected to exceed 4 billion.  Hispanic business will increasingly represent a significant portion of the U.S. economy. 

Although conditions have improved, there is a lot of ground left to cover.  Hispanics still lag behind Caucasians in technology usage.  Hispanic-owned businesses are less likely to have Internet access, a company website or an e-commerce strategy.  Fortunately many organizations exist to aid the advancement of Hispanic business and the attainment of technological expertise. 

Online business association Hispanic Chamber of E-Commerce (HISCEC) helps small businesses to interact with suppliers and customers, helps educate its members and provides access to markets.  “To enable technological literacy and professional development of the Hispanic small business community we are hosting a series of events, including the 2-day Hispanic Business & Technology Expo (www.hbshowcase.com) in September”, said HISCEC President Tayde Aburto.

The digital divide creates obstacles limiting professional achievement for marginalized groups.  Technological literacy will continually be a vital tool for modern business industries.  The Hispanic role in the professional realm will progress as the community breaks down the barriers of the divide. 

**Article issued by Diálogo PR.

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