» Archive for the 'Trends' Category

The Next Big Thing

Friday, August 15th, 2008 by Jonathan Spira

Headline writers love to proclaim The Next Big Thing, something I talked about in a column here almost eight years ago.

At the time, I commented on TSTBTNBTBNWs (Things Supposed to Be the Next Big Thing but Never Were).  A few items on this list included artificial intelligence and push technology (such as PointCast).

Truly great ideas in business that weren’t proclaimed The Next Big Thing when they arrived on the scene include the telegraph, the telephone, the typewriter, the punch card tabulator, the electronic computer, the photocopier, the personal computer, the laser printer, and the Internet.

These ideas have all had a substantive, long-lasting, and transformational impact on work.  They made their appearance on the scene quietly but carried a big stick.

Possible great ideas that could be TNBT include the mobile phone (and derivative smartphones), the laptop computer, Wi-Fi, SaaS, and social computing.

Things that people perceive to be great ideas, but aren’t, include the smartphone (yes, it is sometimes a great idea from a business perspective, but from a work-life balance perspective the smartphone may yet prove to be quite the opposite), calling anything “Web 2.0,” touchscreen technology, and the paperless office.

Public radio used to have a program called “The Next Big Thing” but it’s no longer on the air.  I wouldn’t worry too much about this, though.  As I promised back in 2001, The Next Big Thing is just around the corner.

Here’s an idea that turns out to be a really bad idea: battery backup for alarm clocks in hotel rooms.  To begin with, hotels seem to make really poor choices in choosing in-room clocks.  If one can’t quickly ascertain that the alarm is indeed off and not set by the previous guest for three in the morning, the only choice is to unplug the thing.  Last night, that’s exactly what I did in a brand new hotel in Monterey and, since they are only two months old and don’t have their sea legs, I’ll spare them the embarrassment of being mentioned here by name.  Yet the clock went off at 3 a.m. regardless.  Why?  The darned thing has a battery backup.  Since this is a five-star property, the GM has assured me that housekeeping will check all clocks when preparing rooms for incoming guests.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

Keeping Pace With Gen Y: Technology gap between Generation Y and enterprise threatens productivity

Friday, May 16th, 2008 by Cody Burke

As a new crop of knowledge workers prepare to graduate from colleges and universities and begin to enter the workforce, it is worth reflecting on how the workplace is prepared for their arrival.  The fact of the matter is that most companies are ill-prepared for this group of Generation Y, or Thumb Generation, workers.  As a group, they have a unique familiarity with technology that vastly exceeds that of previous generations, and the expectations they have for their future work environments are shaped by the omnipresence of interactive and collaborative technologies in their lives.

What does this mean for the educators who teach these students, and what are the implications for the enterprise that wants to recruit and retain these knowledge workers?  As the next generation of knowledge workers enters the workforce, it is necessary to consider the following:

- Members of Generation Y, the “Thumb Generation,” have grown up in a vastly more connected and technologically sophisticated world.

- Educators are realizing two things, first they must prepare students to be competitive in a technologically advanced workplace, and second that students themselves have fundamentally changed and require updated tools and methods to reflect technological advances.

- The concurrent management of large and complex social networks and simultaneous participation in work or the classroom has become the norm for this group.

- Next generation learning spaces are changing the way that space and technology interact to meet the needs of students and pedagogy.

- Lecture capture systems are changing the way students learn and retain information.

- With technology rendering tools obsolete far faster than in the past, it is necessary to rethink how students are being prepared for the workforce and how the work environment is set to welcome them.

- These “digital natives” want immediate gratification and are already growing impatient with “tired old enterprise apps” that are the lifeblood of many corporations.

The disconnect between the personal adoption of technology by students means that the traditional “push” model of teaching may no longer be suitable in an environment where students regularly experience a more interactive learning experience outside the classroom.  For companies, understanding how to manage future knowledge workers will be of paramount importance for recruitment and retention.  This means that business as usual is not good enough for the newest crop of knowledge workers – companies need to rethink the needs and expectations of this group and take steps to appeal to a generation of knowledge workers used to faster and more streamlined tools.

Find out what you can do now to prepare – have a look at our new report, Technologies to Teach the Thumb Generation.

Cody Burke is a senior analyst at Basex.