Monday, June 30, 2008

Grown Up Digital: The Next Generation in the Enterprise

Don Tapscott wrapped up the conference with some thoughts from his upcoming book: Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing the World

The Net Generation Comes of Age.
Don thinks the defining characteristic of the Net Generation is that they have grown up with the internet. This connectivity is part of their culture.  Nobody thinks of the refrigerator as technology. But to our grandparents (or great-grandparents) the refrigerator was technology. Similarly, the Net Generation does not think of the internet as technology. It is more like plumbing or an appliance.

The Net Generation and Technology.
Mobility is a key. They do not use the phone to talk; they use it to text. There is the rise of social networks and hyper-connectivity. Unplugging is now a punishment.

Net Generation Norms.
"The war for talent is over and the talent won."

Technology and the Net-Generation Brain. 
There are critical periods of brain development between 0-3 and 8-18.  These are the ages when your brain gets formed and the synaptic connections develop.  The Net-Generation does lots more multi-tasking. (Don showed a picture of his son in his dorm room with three televisions on and all four boys with laptops open.)  This is a smart generation. College enrollments are trending up. But so is the high school drop-out rate.  Are schools failing?  Performance in school is bifurcated.  About 60% of the Net-Generation are creating content on the web.  Gamers process visual information more rapidly.  He also pointed out how online gaming recreates the business environment. (This reminds of a story in the Harvard Business Review: Leadership’s Online Labs by Byron Reeves, Thomas W. Malone, and Tony O’Driscoll.) 

Education and the Net-Generation.

There will be a new paradigm in learning.  Instead of one-way lectures it will be multi-way and collaborative. Even the course materials are starting to be developed in an open source method.  [Look at MIT Open Course Ware]

Net-Generation and Employment.
The Net-Generation is expecting to move from job to job. When Don graduated, he expected to have that job for life.  It is no longer about recruiting. It is about creating early channels of influence. They expect peer-to-peer influence. They expect more speed in the company. They do not want to wait for change.  They are equating work, collaboration, learning and fun.  Don't just retain; evolve the relationship.

Net Generation Consumers.
Honesty, consideration, accountability and openness are the key demands of N-Gen as a consumer.  They are more influenced by their friends and their social network, more so than general marketing.  The four P's of marketing (Product, Price, Placement and Promotion) are evolving to ABCDE: Anyplace marketplace, Brand, Consumer experiences, Discovery mechanism for price and Engagement.  

Net Generation and Government 2.0
Don believes Net-Generation is much more interested in government and are believers in the state. They will put a big demand on the delivery of government services. (Why does it take 6 weeks to get a passport?)  There is a lot more engagement in civic action. They do not believe in the current model of government.  There are new models of citizen engagement. Look at the Obama campaign. Look at Wikinomics for Obama.  Don is expecting a second wave of democracy characterized by strong representation ans a new culture of public deliberation built on active leadership.  He is not looking at the rule by the mob. He sees more engagement and participation. Leaders are in the position to decide and lead. But they need information and feedback. 

The Net generation is a bigger population than the Baby Boom. They think different and they are putting different demands on business and on government.  Don expects this generation to much more entrepreneurial.  They want to change the world and they want to be their own boss.

I am looking forward to Don's new book when it comes out in the Fall.

(In the interest of full disclosure I did get a copy of Wikinomics signed by Don.)

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