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Communicating with the Net Generation – Part 1 of 2

Don Murray
October 28, 20094 min
At the conference the opening keynote was by Don Tapscott, the well known author of “Wikinomics” and “Grown Up Digital”. I knew it was going to be great when at the very start he made the point: “Make speeches fun! People learn more when they are conscious!”

I was at the Teradata conference last week where Teradata Geospatial was announced. Safe was there as we recently added support for Teradata Geospatial. It is exciting to see Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) vendors like Teradata and Netezza adding support for geospatial information.

At the conference the opening keynote was by Don Tapscott, the well known author of “Wikinomics” and “Grown Up Digital”. I knew it was going to be great when at the very start he made the point: “Make speeches fun! People learn more when they are conscious!” grown_up_digital

His keynote was all about the new generation that is now entering the workplace and how they are different in many ways than previous generations. As this is the first generation to have grown up with the internet and digital technology all around them, he referred to them as “Digital Natives”.

He left all of us in the audience with things to consider if we are to take full advantage of the unique skill set of this first generation of “Digital Natives”. His views certainly line up with the experiences that we have had at Safe with this Net Generation.

I want to share my main takeaways both today and tomorrow as I feel that Don Tapscott’s message can help all of us involved with technology to communicate more effectively with each other, our partners, and our clients.

Global Computation Platform
Don Tapscott has the ability to cut through what is going on and see the forest for the trees. He made the point that Web 1.0 was about HTML and web pages where information was merely presented or published. It was definitely a one way communication model. He then made the point that Web 2.0 on the other hand is the dawn of the internet becoming a “Global Computation Platform”. In Web 2.0, cloud computing and XML are merely the building blocks of this new platform that will enable organizations around the world to collaborate at a level that has never before been possible.

Communication
He told an interesting story about how the people of the Net Generation are more effective communicators with technology. Rather than rely solely on email – or email at all – they communicate using more collaborative social networking technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. During this segment, he shared the story of a student who was asked how she would use email. The student responded by saying that “I would use it for something like sending a thank you note to an aunt for a present!” Hmmm, isn’t this how the email generation uses the old fashioned snail mail?

Nobody knows whether Twitter will survive in the long run, but one thing is certain: social networking technology is here to stay. Companies need to embrace it as it is already having a big impact on how businesses interact with their customers. An interesting recent innovation is Google Wave which is a collaborative platform from the ground up that has the potential to change how we work. How many of us have tried to collaborate by using email? I for one am guilty!

(As an aside he really stressed that we get all our kids to change their privacy settings on Facebook.)

Obtaining News
Don Tapscott’s research showed that the Net Generation in general are not big newspaper readers. He gave the example of a typical Net Generation person who stated that she got her news from over 60 RSS feeds which constantly provide her with news as it is happening. She added that newspapers only came out once a day and left your hands dirty! No wonder they don’t read newspapers!

As you may have already guessed, I really enjoyed his keynote; it was upbeat and full of optimism about the Net Generation and the future. Tomorrow I’d like to share more from Don Tapscott’s presentation, specifically how to sell to the Net Generation and what his keynote means to us at Safe.

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