Seventy-six percent of technology elites say the U.S. tech industry’s best days are still to come, compared to 59 percent of the general public, and 59 percent believe the incoming Trump administration will be favorable to the technology industry, compared to 50 percent of the general public, according to the newly released Age of Trump Technology Policy Survey developed by Burson-Marsteller and conducted by research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB).
Continuing in this optimistic vein, 73 percent of tech elites believe the technology industry will contribute to job creation, compared to 63 percent of the general public, and 73 percent of elites say that innovation is critical to the U.S.’s position in the global economy and the technology industry is going in the right direction to maintain that, compared to 59 percent of the public. Overall, 52 percent of elites believe the country is going in the right direction, compared to 27 percent of the public, and 59 percent say the economy will improve under President Trump compared to 46 percent of the public. In addition, 88 percent of elites and 76 percent of the public trust the technology industry to behave responsibly and in the best interests of the American public.
In contrast to the optimism among elites about the current and future state of the economy, the public expressed some concerns, with 59 percent believing the country is on the wrong track. Furthermore, less than half of the general public (43 percent) believe the economy is better off than it was four years ago, with only one in five indicating it will be significantly better five years from now.
“This new survey reveals intriguing insights into the beliefs of those closest to the technology industry compared to the general public—and are especially relevant now right before the inauguration and during CES, the most important technology gathering of the year,” said Don Baer, worldwide chair and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, in a news release. “Interestingly, the findings suggest those in the technology industry are very optimistic about the industry’s direction and prospects for the next four years, even though they are less sure of the impact of the incoming Trump administration on it.”
While both tech elites and the general public believe the technology industry will do better in the next four years (56 percent and 66 percent, respectively), they are less sure about Donald Trump‘s role in that success. Only 50 percent of the general public say “yes” when asked if Trump is a technology industry supporter, and this is only slightly higher among technology elites at 59 percent. Tech elites are evenly split on whether the administrations of Trump or President Obama better understand the needs of companies in the industry, although the general public is slightly more likely to favor the Trump administration at 58 percent.
When asked to choose the word that best describe how they feel about the future of the industry under the Trump administration, 37 percent of elites choose positive words (optimistic, energized, supported, eager), 34 percent choose negative words (concerned, anxious, attacked, angry), and 27 percent choose neutral words (wait and see, neutral, so-so/mixed feelings). The public was even more ambivalent about Trump’s impact on the future of the technology industry, with a plurality (39 percent) choosing neutral words, 33 percent choosing positive words and 27 percent choosing negative words.
Key Differences Between Technology Elites and the General Public
- Eighty percent of elites say the technology industry is very important to the U.S. economy—the most important of any industry. While the general public also views the technology industry as important (67 percent), this group prioritizes healthcare (75 percent) and energy (73 percent) over technology.
- The general public is also more likely to say that, for the average American, technology is a job destroyer (37 percent vs. 27 percent of technology elites) and that innovation negatively affects average American jobs (35 percent vs. 22 percent).
- The general public is more likely than tech elites to agree that traditional manufacturing and service jobs are more important for the economy than expanding innovation (74 percent vs. 68 percent).
- A large majority of tech elites (74 percent) say that if innovation does not occur in America it will continue overseas.
- Tech elites are most likely to say that China (57 percent) and Japan (46 percent) are the countries most likely to surpass the U.S. in terms of technology success.
- Tech elites have concerns about security and privacy which are driven by their belief that the Trump administration may not do enough to protect consumers. Key for technology is the security of corporate data (30 percent), security of government data (27 percent) and protection of consumer privacy (25 percent). The general public’s concerns are similar, responding that the top priorities should be security of government data (43 percent), hacking and ransomware (40 percent) and protecting consumer privacy (38 percent).
- Tech elites and general public respondents say that high-skills job training (72 percent and 67 percent, respectively) and increased science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education (59 percent and 53 percent, respectively) are the best steps to spread the benefits of American innovation to a broader portion of the American public.
- While privacy and security are key areas of concern, elite and public respondents are divided over who bears the most responsibility for protecting consumer data. However, both agree that the government should be involved. Equal numbers of tech elites and general public respondents say the federal government (19 percent and 20 percent, respectively), software manufacturers (20 percent and 18 percent) and the companies themselves (19 percent and 20 percent) should be responsible.
Participants in the study included 1,000 members of the U.S. general public, as well as a separate sample of 500 technology elites, defined as individuals who either work in technology or invest in the technology sector. PSB conducted the research on behalf of Burson-Marsteller from December 6th to December 13th, 2016.
Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel