"There is currently no consensus in the expert community regarding the definition of the term 'digital economy'. The Digital Economy of the Russian Federation program defines this term as an economy based on new technologies, in which digital data become a key factor in production," said Analytical Center expert Tatiana Eferina speaking at the round table "New Opportunities during a Time of Transformation".
Tatiana Eferina noted that the digital economy not only produces dividends in the form of trade extension, optimized business processes, improved quality of service etc. but also creates social risks. One such risk relates to the increased social inequality resulting from the fact that some social and demographic groups don't have easy access to modern communications. "In this case, we relate to 'digital split' based on differences in age, level of income, education, type of city or town people are living in. Social researches indicate that some 94% of Russians aged between 14 and 23 use the Internet, however, only 37% of those aged between 54 and 63 use the global network, and of those aged over 64 only 13% use the Internet," the expert said.
One possible snag with the digital economy is structural unemployment resulting from rising demands for technological and social skills, Ms. Eferina believes. This means that work to develop new social protection measures must start already now.
"What needs to be done to allow the digital economy to take off in Russia? Key factors of success stem from achieving the objectives set in the program. Special emphasis should be placed on trust, support of innovation in business when it uses digital technologies, support of fundamental and applied research," the expert is convinced.
According to polls, today every third citizen of Russia has encountered various types of cyber crime on the Internet, according to Ms. Eferina. The majority of those polled are concerned that their money can potentially be stolen from their bank cards and electronic accounts as well as about the possible theft of their personal data. More than half of the respondents believe the state should have no access to personal information and correspondence.
The issue of supporting fundamental and applied research is especially relevant for economic development in Russia as this kind of research can give the country independence with regards to digital technologies. To that end, the program includes a special section on the development of research competencies and new fundamental technologies. The idea is to create institutions that would support research and development of fundamental technologies and competencies needed for the digital economy.