#OutToLunch A generation of smartphone holders who can’t google is a danger to businesses

By Denis Jjuuko

One of the most important discoveries of our time, is the internet. A resource that we use today to make our lives better in almost every aspect. It is perhaps the second most important discovery after fire.

It has made many things possible. One needs acres of space to exhaust how the internet has made this life possible. From transferring money from one part of the world to another making e-commerce possible and cutting the costs of doing business significantly.

But since the creation of the world wide web in the late 1980s, one of the most significant innovations has been the ability for people to search for information. In the modern era, search engines have been perfected to provide us with all the information we need on almost anything.

People’s needs whether looking for information for academic research or buying some sweet corn, search engines provide this information at our finger tips. This is what has made Google a powerful tool and turned its parent company, Alphabet, the world unicorn that it is. Needless to say, that its founders have turned out as some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Google with all its powerful algorithms doesn’t charge its users for search fees. All you need is an internet connection and bingo! Of course, you must have the ability to discern what is correct and what is not because search engines simply index information from millions of websites including fake ones. Of course, there is some effort to remove certain sites like those that promote terrorism from these search engines but largely any form of information you need is there.

We live in the era of the smartphone, another very important tool that enables anyone to publish news whether fake or not. However, the most worrying trend in Uganda is the inability of diploma and degree holders to search for information to make right decisions.

Sometimes a PhD holder in Uganda and a cart pusher peddle the same information without any ability to determine whether the news is fake or not. This is one of the reasons we in Uganda are poor — the inability to discern the information that the internet throws our way.

Many Ugandans are easily conned by 419 scammers who promise them to have won lotteries they have never registered to participate in. Others lose money through pyramid scams that have been written about in other countries. This is a result of mainly our inability to search for the right information.

If our businesses must grow and survive, we must fully understand the search element of the internet. Searching for opportunities and understanding the partners that we want to do business with. But if we can’t ascertain a business opportunity from a scam, we won’t be able to grow.

Search engines can lead us to opportunities including new innovations. But do we know how to find this information? To separate it from the genuine and the one that isn’t so? When you look at how quickly Ugandans take in to conspiracy theories which all of them can be easily debunked through search, then you know that our businesses are in trouble.

It may sound weird but our syllabuses at a certain education level should teach people how to search for the right information and perhaps that will help people make critical decisions based on the right information.

Based on the information highly educated people spew on social media platforms, it is rightly possible that they are making decisions in their workplaces based on unverifiable information. This is going to make many businesses lose money.

If a well facilitated highly educated employee who has access to internet cannot use search engines to verify information or even make a few calls but simply tweets whatever comes their way, how are they making decisions for the business?

In Whatsapp groups of university graduates is where most misinformation is shared by people in critical managerial positions. How are these people managing the people below them? How can a university graduate with 20-30 years of working experience be so reliant on information that they can’t verify when they own a smartphone with data?

Business owners and those at the highest levels must deliberately find ways to empower their workers so that they make decisions based on the right information. If you see somebody in a workplace Whatsapp group sharing all the fake news, know that they are making wrong decisions for the business.

The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. djjuuko@gmail.com

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