Cisco Survey: Net as Important as Air We Breathe

By Chris Talbot

Priorities and the way technology has certainly changed, even in the last several years. According to a new study from Cisco Systems, one in three college students and young employees around the world believe the Internet is a fundamental to their survival as the air they breathe, the food they eat, the water in their beer, and the shelter for their parties.

The "2011 Cisco Connected Technology World Report" marks the second annual study from the networking giant, and this year’s study puts a microscope on the relationship between human behavior, the Internet and networking’s pervasiveness. The study’s findings will be released in three parts (parts two and three will follow in November and December, respectively).

One of the key findings of the global study is that 33 percent of college students and young employees said they believe the Internet is as fundamental a resource as air, water, food and shelter. Additionally, 49 percent of college students and 47 percent of young employees said they believe the Internet is "pretty close" to the level of importance of the things that actually keep us alive and comfortable. Combined, four of every five college students and young employees believe the Internet is vitally important, and 55 percent of college students and 62 percent of young employees said they couldn’t live without the Internet.

In fact, 64 percent of students said if they were forced to choose between a car and Internet access, they’d learn to take the bus. The Internet is even more important than dating, going out with friends or listening to music, according to 40 percent of students surveyed.

What this means, according to Cisco, is continued change in the dynamic between people and their employees. The up-and-coming generation of workers expects more Internet connectivity than past generations.

"As we move more into the employment world, the use case behind Internet is certainly changing, and we sometimes use Internet on a generic basis to refer to a lot of generic activities we’re performing over the network," said Scott Gainey, director in wireless mobility group, product marketing.

Although it may appear that social interactions are disappearing, they’re actually shifting to the digital world. There is an incredible shift to online interaction in the next generation. One in four (27 percent) of college students admitted that staying up to date on Facebook was more important than partying, dating, listening to music or hanging out with friends.

Social media, unsurprisingly, has become a critical element of young adults’ lives. Cisco’s study found that 91 percent of college students and 88 percent of young employees have Facebook accounts. Of those, 89 percent of college students and 73 percent of young employees check Facebook at least once per day – and 33 percent of both groups check Facebook at least five times per day.

The use of Facebook and Twitter with professional colleagues is also huge with these two groups. Seven out of 10 employees friended their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook, while 68 percent of the Twitter users surveyed said they follow their managers or colleagues. Only 32 percent prefer to keep their personal and professional lives separate.

Seeing as this generation also grew up with cell phones, it’s also likely not a surprise that many are highly connected via their mobile devices. Of the students and employees surveyed, 66 percent and 58 percent (respectively) said a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) was the most important technology in their lives.

Smartphones are actually about to surpass desktops as the most prevalent technological tool globally, with 19 percent of college students citing a smartphone as the most important device they use on a daily basis (compared to 20 percent that cited desktops).

The digital world is something the next generation is focused on, and it’s taking its toll on certain industries. Newspapers and hardcopy books certainly are less important than generations past. Television is likewise taking a beating with this new generation. Only 4 percent of those surveyed said the newspaper is the most important tool for accessing information, 21 percent haven’t bought a physical book (excluding textbooks for class) in a bookstore in more than two years (or never at all), and only 6 percent of students and 8 percent of employees said the TV is the most important technology device in their daily lives (a downward trend that Cisco expects to continue as more TV and movie content becomes available on mobile devices).

"The results of the Cisco Connected World Technology Report should make businesses re-examine how they need to evolve in order to attract talent and shape their business models," said Marie Hattar, vice president of enterprise marketing at Cisco, in a statement. "Without a doubt, our world is changing to be much more Internet-focused, and becomes even more so with each new generation. CIOs need to plan and scale their networks now to address the security and mobility demands that the next generation workforce will put on their infrastructure, and they need to do this in conjunction with a proper assessment of corporate policies."


This article was originally published on 2011-09-21