We are witnessing the rise of the connected consumer; a demographic fueled by mobile innovations, on-demand services, and tech-savvy expectations. Canadians are slower to join these virtual ranks than their global peers, but it is a matter of time before their swelling numbers drive demand for stronger governmental support and assurances.
One can look to Asia for a glimpse of what is to come. Here, the proliferation of mobile devices and online engagement is staggering, and citizens are using connected tools to augment nearly every aspect of their lives. They expect cutting-edge infrastructure, uninterrupted access, and service providers who can cater to their 24/7 expectations.
We can expect the same from Canadians – and soon. Our consumers are fast adopting appetites for technologies that enhance their physical and virtual experiences. They are using smartphones to shop online, do their taxes, connect to smart home devices, or engage with service providers on the fly; and they are plugging into aggregated online channels for news, social media, entertainment, and curated content at all hours of the day.
As these online habits evolve, Canadians will rightly expect their data privacy and security to remain a priority among everyone in their digital ecosystem. They will also drive demand for a faster, more secure, and more reliable digital infrastructure that can keep pace with their digital lives. Naturally, the government will have a central part to play in meeting those expectations.
And yet, data security and privacy is no longer a guarantee. All the regulations and controls in the world cannot nullify the risks of the cyber world. Incidents will happen, and that is why the government's relationship to its online consumers will always be tenuous at best.
This is a reality that many consumers around the world have already made peace with. That includes Asian consumers and, indeed, many of Canada's newcomers who come from countries where being connected means trading a degree of digital security. Still, to encourage a thriving digital society, the government will need to build and honour a modern social contract with its digital consumers – one that ensures the value of its online services far outweigh potential risks and one which is always working to protect today's (and tomorrow's) connected consumers.