The latest report from Nielsen, Social Networking’s New Global Footprint showing the growing normalisation of social media in internet use is of interest for several reasons. Most notable the age demographics refutes the fallacy that this is a novelty for young male users. The broad median of users extends from 38-49 across both sexes and shows a significant number of users in the 50-64 range, with the majority there being female.
Secondly, the report shows an increase in mobile use, particularly in Japan, where devices such as the iPhone are seen as a bit primitive, especially when compared to the functionality of the average Japanese fliptop phone. Finally, Nielsen note the increasing amount of time spent on these networks, this is increasingly not a flitter visit by users.
Implications for Internal Communications
So, what are we to make of this for the workplace? The most important aspect is the demographics. Most 2.0 literate internal communications professionals today, will have had experiences where 2.0 was dismissed as “not something our middle-aged managers will ever bother with”. One more case of refuting this. And whereas previous observers have remarked on the need to provide the same sort of tools and collaborative experience for Gen Y entering the workplace, the same could be applied to Boomers already there. If we can edit a website in seconds at home, why does it take a week or 2 at work?
Blue collar workforce
The enhancement of mobile use is also of note. As these things get better, even outside Japan then so their use will increase.This will have a knock-on effect for the the workplace. Put a WiFi device in a wireless work environment and even those not usually connected to a PC can be part of an electronic communication and collaborative environment.
Moore’s Mighty Woosh
Of course this does all presume a connected, e-savvy workforce. My point about WiFi ushers in the possibility of blue collars being connected with cheap(er) devices. Indeed I use my iPod Touch as a poor man’s smartphone and it works well as I move from wireless zone to zone. Why not then the same at the workplace? Even if the full impact of the tectonic shift – Moore’s great ‘Woosh’ isn’t there yet in the workplace, it sure is everywhere else, well everywhere that has the internet.
Not on the phone
On this we ought to be mindful of the fact that most people globally are not online. What we’re talking about here is for those countries and workforces that are already industrialised. Chomsky used to like to remind us that not only have the majority of people alive today never been online, most of them have never made a phone call. I wonder if this has changed much and if so by how much in the last decade?