EMC Global Study Details Business Impact of the “Information Generation”

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  April 16, 2015

EMC released a new study, The Information Generation: Transforming the Future, Today which explores the impact of the growing global community of “digital citizens” that are always connected and engaged online, and have the world’s information at their fingertips. According to the results of the study, they also view the world and their interactions with businesses very differently than traditional consumers.

Conducted by the Institute for the Future and Vanson Bourne on behalf of EMC, the study was based on a questionnaire derived from interviews and workshops with 40+ influential decision-makers and experts in multiple industries and sectors. Survey participants included 3,600 Director-to-C-Suite business leaders in 18 countries who answered questions about the expectations of digital citizens. Their responses detailed the business attributes organizations need to successfully compete and thrive in this new landscape.

Not surprisingly, the vast majority (96%) of respondents believes that new technologies have fundamentally changed the rules of business. Slightly fewer (93%) reported that technology innovations have reset customer expectations, and nearly all believe this trend will accelerate. The top reported consumer expectations include 24/7 and “everywhere” access and connectivity, faster service access, support for more devices, and unique personalized experiences.

To address those issues, participants agreed that business transformation is critical. However, few are developing the attributes necessary for success very well or company-wide. Only 12% predictively spot new opportunities, 9% innovate in agile ways, 14% demonstrate transparency and trust, 11% deliver personalized experience or 12% operate in real-time.

A summary and details of The Information Generation: Transforming the Future, Today study are available at www.emc.com/informationgeneration.

The pitch

EMC’s study reveals current/future challenges and expectations facing businesses that serve the Information Generation.

Final analysis

As EMC’s new Information Generation study suggests, few people or businesses would quibble with the claim that technology has changed the way people interact with other individuals, organizations and the world around them. Moreover, that transition appears to be quickening as personal computing devices become less expensive and more mobile. Despite some vendors’ attempts to reposition their solutions as luxury products, like the 18-karet gold edition Apple Watches, the real power businesses should heed lies among the technological bourgeoisie that consists of middle class inhabitants and aspirants whose lives are being changed for the better by PCs, laptops, tablets, smart phones, wearables and the like.

The most curious insight revealed by EMC’s study is the disparity between study participants’ understanding of these changes and how their businesses are actually responding. It’s not like rise of the Information Generation happened overnight or that smart phone-toting consumers experienced a moment of collective enlightenment about their bargaining power. In fact, this shift has been in process for the better part of two decades, gaining speed and momentum that seems to parallel IT imperatives like Moore’s Law.

So, understanding the situation yet doing little if anything to address it, as the study suggests most organizations are doing, is a dangerous, potentially fatal flaw. It’s more than a little similar to a medical patient who ignores his doctor’s warnings about smoking cigarettes, puffs away on his two packs a day and swears that his shortness of breath, persistent cough and that spot of blood on his handkerchief are really nothing to worry about.

If you think that’s an extreme position, consider the obvious: global businesses spend billions of dollars a year attempting to understand consumers in order to engage with them more effectively via marketing, advertising and customer services. In that light, EMC’s study suggests that the vast majority of businesses know full well how technology has changed the interests and requirements of desirable Information Generation consumers, but most effectively drop that valuable understanding into the circular file.

Fortunately, while the EMC study offers a litmus test of the market’s general knowledge about Information Generation consumers, it also provides a checklist of specific key attributes required to engage with them effectively by predictively spotting new market opportunities, operating transparently and trustfully, pursuing and deploying agile innovations, offering customers unique or personalized experiences and operating in real time.

Developing the attributes suggested by EMC’s Innovation Generation study is obviously no guarantee of success, but they do qualify as steps in the right direction that should leave an organization better off than it would otherwise be. Consider them to be the business equivalent of dropping the smokes and pursuing better diet and exercise habits. No one lives forever but you’ll dramatically improve the odds of seeing and enjoying the months and years ahead.

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