The literature gap between academia and big business..?


So I am doing a piece of work for a US-based international NGO at the moment.  It includes exploring what the upcoming trends might be for the ICT4D sector.

I am obviously quite cautious about making predictions (recent history being a case-study in the value of these!), and was initially also quite cautious about even finding much useful literature or material to draw ideas from.

Well, in some areas I was proven wrong.

It turns out there is a ton of “big IT” material out there – the likes of pwc, Accenture, deloitte etc. are continually speculating about the tech trends, and some of them are even looking at what that means for Africa, for development etc.

I also found a little academic work exploring the impact of deeper social trends on underlying ICT4D paradigms and reserach interests.  Extremely interesting but only tangentially relevant to this work.

What I have really struggled with – which ironically feels like the easiest part to predict – is practical short-term predictions about the sector – we all know digital has increased and continues to, but by how much?  We all talk about funders and INGOs ‘going digital’ but what does this mean in terms of funding, upcoming calls, programs etc?  There is a lot of discussion about new funders, more funding going direct to the South, governments funding tech directly etc. – but where are the summaries, the numbers, the analyses.

I hope I am just find it hard to find – as at least that would just mean my individual failure.

But maybe I can’t find it because, as a sector we are not producing it.  That would be a collective failure that is more concerning.

So my appeal – do you know of any recent material (literature, websites, blogs.  hell even tweets!) on sector trends, funding trends, anything likely to impact on organisation’s approaches to ICT4D over the next few years?

If so, please contact me urgently!

(I am hoping to publish the results of my own research – pending approval of the NGO, so watch this space and hopefully I will save others from having to hit the same roadblock in the future!)

PS
The image is because I couldn’t find a cartoon that suitably captured my failing to find the research.. but this made me chuckle and is kinda loosely vaguely relevant ahem

 

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