A new research project led by IFI-researcher Richard Lang explores how digital transformation can facilitate new business models and ways of working in rural areas. While large parts of the discussion about digital transformation still focus on urban settings, the challenges and potential of digitization for the rural context are still not well understood. The Covid crisis has shown how important digitization is for the rural economy and local communities, but also that the potential of digital transformation is not yet fully exploited.
Digital business models can help rural enterprises in different economic sectors to remain competitive by facilitating direct relationships with customers and new target groups, or by making their supply chains more efficient and customer-focused. There are further opportunities to foster sustainable rural development through new technologies. Residents can attend university lectures online, receive digital support in case of illness or get in touch with public authorities using their smartphones without having to drive to the next city. Thus, unlocking the potential of digitization for rural development can help address the grand challenge of outmigration and the growing urban-rural divide.