Marketing Report
4 out of 10 Belgians are digitally vulnerable, blended agency iO report

4 out of 10 Belgians are digitally vulnerable, blended agency iO report

41% of Belgians aged 16-74 lack basic digital skills or never engage with the internet. It's high time for businesses and governmental organisations to intensify their e-inclusion initiatives, according to blended agency iO. 

Helping 41% of Belgians progress digitally through e-inclusion 

People who aren't digitally savvy are excluded from many aspects of daily life. There's a significant digital divide: new figures from Statbel show that 41% of the Belgian population aged between 16 and 74 are digitally vulnerable. They have no or insufficient digital skills and do not have access to an internet connection, smartphone, or laptop. Blended agency iO embraces the battle against digital vulnerability by designing digital environments for flesh-and-blood individuals.

David De Block, Public Services Director, iO: "Technological progress must go hand in hand with e-inclusion. That means that when designing your online environment, you have to assume that not everyone has the infrastructure or digital skills to use your app or site optimally. So, you should continuously survey all your customers about their online experience – including those who are vulnerable ." 

More digital illiteracy: bad news for enterprises 

The European Commission set an ambitious target in Europe's Digital Decade: by 2030, 80% of Europe's adult population should have basic digital skills. To achieve that, we still have a long way to go. In 2021, 39% of Belgians had low or no digital skills. This was historically high with an increase of more than 10% from a previous measurement. In 2023, we partly made up for that: the percentage dropped to 35%. 

To be clear, people who are digitally less literate are not dumb. Technology is evolving so fast that many cannot keep up. Digital natives will thus become digital by effort in a few years. And that is bad news for businesses: organizations that are not easily accessible online risk losing many customers. 

To (continue to) reach digitally vulnerable people, companies and governmental organisations need to commit to e-inclusion. Not to polish their image but to provide better customer experiences that, in turn, lead to better business across all sectors. 

Accessibility: mandatory as of June 2025 

Additionally, starting in June 2025, the European Accessibility Act will be enforced, making it a legal requirement for public and business organisations to prioritize digital accessibility. Designing your online environment for those who – because of visual or other impairments – find online apps and sites difficult to access will benefit all your other visitors, suggests David De Block : 

David: "Globally, there are 1.85 billion individuals with disabilities, and a staggering 71% of them navigate away from websites that are too challenging to use. This presents a significant opportunity for commercial enterprises, non-profit organisations, and government agencies. At iO, our focus is on developing products and services that are accessible to everyone, with a particular emphasis on enhancing user experience, service design, and change management.