Digital Employees


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How the Digital Natives will transform companies and knowledge transfer

Published in: Technology, Business

Digital Employees

  2. 2. who are thedigital natives?
  3. 3. Digital Natives have grown up in a digital world. They relate to information and to others in new and different ways. They manage multiple online identities; they share photos, music, and personal information daily; and they create and collaborate in new ways. Finally, ...
  4. 4. "... they grew up on video games (twitch speed), MTV (more than 100 images a minute), and the ultra-fast speed of action films. Their developing minds learned to adapt to speed and thrive on it." Marc Prensky: Twitch Speed
  5. 5. digital thinking digital life –
  6. 6. Based on the latest research in neurobiology, there is no longer any question that stimulation of various kinds actually changes brain structures and affects the way people think, and that these transformations go on throughout life. The brain is massively plastic. It constantly changes and organizes itself differently based on the inputs it receives. Marc Prensky: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently?,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf
  7. 7. always on A typical 21-year-old has, on average: sent and received 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and SMS text messages, used a mobile phone for 10,000 hours, played video games for 5,000 hours, and spent 3,500 hours social networking online...
  8. 8. Twitch Speed Conventional Speed Parallel Processing Linear Processing Graphics First Text First Random Access Step-by-Step Connected Active vs. Standalone Passive Play Work Payoff Patience Fantasy Reality Technology as Friend Technology as Foe
  9. 9. In a recent post on his blog, Jeremiah Owyang draws some key characteristics of the digital natives:
  10. 10. this will have consequences for their communication behaviour
  11. 11. control impatience This younger generation desires with the ability to access content and communicate whenever they choose, regardless of location. is also characteristic of this age group, as it seeks to make the most efficient use interaction of its time through multitasking and “media snacking.” The youth are also constantly engaged in community originality sharing opinions on what content is worth seeing or experiencing. Additionally, they are looking for avenues of selfexpression that enable them to showcase their creativity and portray their
  12. 12. control For a long time media consumption has been a lean-back, passive experience, constrained by broadcasting schedules. However, younger users are playing a more active role in controlling and deciding how and when they want to consume media. They are starting to move away from platforms such as linear TV and radio that do not enable content to be consumed in a flexible way.
  13. 13. impatience Consumers today are living in a world of hyper-choice. They own multiple devices that provide access to a very wide range of communication and content services. To make the most of their time, they are increasingly consuming several types of content at once, rapidly switching attention from one source to another, a form of multitasking
  14. 14. interaction The influence of their peer group on the younger generation is nothing new. However, the Internet has opened up the possibility for today’s younger generation to interact with a global community at any time, anywhere. This age group continuously exchanges opinions on what is worth seeing, reading and downloading.
  15. 15. originality For a long time media consumption has been a lean-back, passive experience, constrained by broadcasting schedules. However, younger users are playing a more active role in controlling and deciding how and when they want to consume media. They are starting to move away from platforms such as linear TV and radio that do not enable content to be consumed in a flexible way.
  16. 16. what happens when they enter the business stage...?
  17. 17. Young people may be newcomers to the world of work, but it's their bosses who are immigrants into the digital world.
  18. 18. Today's younger workers are not 'little us-es'. Their preference is for sharing, staying connected, instantaneity, multi-tasking, assembling random information into patterns, and using techno- logy in new ways. Their challenge to the established way of doing things in the business world has already started. Marc Prensky
  19. 19. Those challenges often flow from young workers' embrace of digital technologies that have grown up with them.
  20. 20. Today's 25-year-old was born in 1985 – 10 years after the first consumer computers went on sale and the same year that the breakthrough "third generation" video game, Nintendo's "Super Mario Brothers," first went to market. When this young worker was a toddler, the basic format of instant messaging was developed. And at the time this young worker entered kindergarten in 1990, Tim Berners-Lee wrote a computer program called the World Wide Web. Upon entering middle school, our worker might have organized his schedule with a gadget called a Palm Pilot (first shipped in 1996). And at the dawn of high school for our worker in 1999, Sean Fanning created the Napster file-sharing service. When the worker graduated from high school four years later, his gifts might have included an iPod (patented in 2002) and a camera phone (first shipped in early 2003). Our worker's college career saw the rise of blogs (already two-years-old in 2000), RSS feeds (coded in 2000), Wikipedia (2001), social network sites (Friendster was launched in 2002), tagging ( was created in 2003), free online phone calling (Skype software was made available in 2003), podcasts (term coined in 2004), and the video explosion that has occurred as broadband internet connections become the norm in households (YouTube went live in 2005).
  21. 21. Now, we have a reversal of the normal situation, where young people migrate into a workplace manned by seasoned natives. Instead, in this digitalized age, this 25-year-old and his peers are showing up in human resources offices as digital natives in a workplace world dominated by digital immigrants...
  22. 22. This generational difference will inevitably pose challenges and create opportunities for the firms that hire them. The Pew Research Center identified five new realities of the digital natives' lives that should be understood by their new employers...
  23. 23. 1 THEY ARE VIDEO GAMERS AND THAT GIVES THEM DIFFERENT EXPECTATIONS ABOUT HOW TO LEARN, WORK, AND PURSUE CAREERS. For today's young workers, the ethos of video gaming plays a significant role. Virtually all college students play video, computer or internet games and 73% of teens do so. Gaming is the "training program" that helps form their attitudes about the way the work-world operates – a world full of data-streams, where analysis and decisions come at twitch speed, where failure at first is the norm, where the game player is the hero, and where learning takes place informally. For companies, this puts a premium on designing engaging work that allows workers to make a clear contribution and be rewarded for same. If "organization man" has become "gaming man," then the importance of worker morale is elevated -- as is the value of basing work on completed tasks, rather than other measures of work effort such as hours on the job. Digital natives need projects to complete and then stand out of the way. They quit when they are frustrated trying to finish an effort that will 'get them to the next level.'
  24. 24. 2 THEY ARE TECHNOLOGICALLY LITERATE, BUT THAT DOES NOT NECESSARILY MAKE THEM MEDIA LITERATE. Most users understand the internet as a vast encyclopedia – more than it is a playground, a commercial mall, a civic commons, a kaffee klatch, or a peep show. This is especially true for the digital natives, who have grown up relying on it to complete school assignments, perhaps too often clipping and pasting material from websites into term papers. The problem is that digital natives often rely on web sources without checking their origins and confirming their evidence in other ways. Thus, companies are doing good to enhance their critical thinking skills regarding media and make them questioning what lies behind media productions – the motives, the money, the values and the ownership – and to be aware of how these factors influence content.
  25. 25. 3 THEY ARE CONTENT CREATORS – THAT SHAPES THEIR NOTIONS ABOUT PRIVACY AND PROPERTY. Most teenagers today have already created a blog, posted an artistic or written creation online, helped build a website, created an online profile, or uploaded photos and videos to a website. They think of the internet as a place where they can express their passions, play out their identities, and gather up the raw material they use for their creations... In the many-to-many broadcast environment of the internet, the prospects for data hemorrhage from companies have grown exponentially. The rise of consumer-creations online also means that outsiders have all manner of ways to record and report on the behavior of employees. Clearly, firms need to create policies about how internal bloggers should treat company information, what kinds of intellectual property need to be protected, and basic norms of behavior that should guide people who want to create online material.
  26. 26. 4 THEY ARE PRODUCT AND PEOPLE RANKERS – THAT INFORMS THEIR NOTIONS OF PROPRIETY. This is the wisdom-of-crowds generation that grew up rating peers' physical attributes (, pop culture creations ( reviews), teachers' style and grading practices (, products and services (, and even weddings ( No surprise, then, that there are websites drawing decent traffic for people to rate their bosses, their clients, and their customers. As the tone of online commentary is often flame-oriented, racy, and retaliatory, organizations might ponder adding a new clause or two to the policy manual about online etiquette inside and outside the workplace to handle unacceptable online behaviors where liability might emerge.
  27. 27. 5 THEY ARE MULTI-TASKERS OFTEN LIVING IN A STATE OF "CONTINUOUS PARTIAL ATTENTION" AND THAT MEANS THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN WORK AND LEISURE IS QUITE PERMEABLE. The ubiquity of gadgets and media allows younger workers to toggle back and forth quickly between tasks for work and chatter with their friends, research for projects and diversions on their screens. Many marvel at their capacity to juggle multiple tasks at once. Thus, many technophiles function in a condition called "continuous partial attention," where they are scanning all available data sources for the optimum inputs. Those who operate in such a state are not as productive as those who stay on task. They also do not make distinctions between the zones of work and leisure, consumer and producer, education and entertainment. Their worlds bleed together. But as it won‘t work to draw borders around different spheres of life for them, companies should let them shift among them at their own choosing – as long as the work gets done.
  28. 28. As digital natives change how businesses operate, new management standards will abound and the demand for technological infrastructure will be greater than ever. Offering them the tools and software they are used to work with and collaborate with each other, will be a key success factor in the war for talent.
  29. 29. the role of software in the war for talent
  30. 30. As digital natives enter the workforce, they bring with them their norms of sharing, collaboration and information processing. These norms differ significantly from the workings of traditional corporate environments.
  31. 31. The digital natives are taking with them blogs, wikis, mashups, RSS feeds and other Web 2.0 social networking tools that will allow them to collaborate freely.
  32. 32. Companies that want to attract digital natives will have to speed up becoming 'enterprises 2.0', offering their staff rich internet applications, social software and a Web platform to execute tasks.
  33. 33. Instead of just throwing money at personal tools and software technologies that support social processes in- house, companies should start with business goals and then pick technologies to support them.
  34. 34. Companies should especially pick social software that boosts the effectiveness of employees doing tasks that cant be automated. These concepts include relating to each other, discovering threats and opportunities, innovating, teaming, leading, and learning.
  35. 35. ermaister/458624987/ 5034345449@N01/263260 68 As digital natives will contin ue to influence the evolution of modern business practic es that support the digital age, it is very likely that they also wil l change the concept of hierarchy and transform it to a mo re modern, competence-based and collaboratively sou rced understanding of leadership.
  36. 36. WIREARCHY IS EMERGING ... We all know and understand hierarchy – the enduring principle of the institutions that govern us and in which we work and live. The people at the top of the institutions control the agendas and make the decisions. That's changing. Taking decisions and managing organized activities are being impacted in powerful ways by interconnected networks of people and technology. The Internet is connecting customers, employees and communities and empowering them with information in ways never before possible. Every week the impact of hyperlinked, horizontal and vertical networks is being felt more clearly and in more insistent ways. The impacts are creating new dynamics in organizations as well as emergent forms of organized activities that are based on participation and peer-to-peer interaction, resulting in nimble, responsive, and results-focused networked group / team structures. A shift in the ways activities are planned and managed is occurring in many spheres of human activity, from command-and-control to coordinate-and-channel. This new principle is called Wirearchy: a dynamic two-way flow of power and authority based on information, knowledge, trust and credibility, enabled by interconnected people and technology. Jon Husband
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