The Rise of the “Digital Native”

By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology

At this year’s Microsoft Partner Conference in Toronto, I was lucky enough to sit in on a presentation from Gartner analyst, Tiffani Bova. Entitled “Reading the Tea Leaves”, it was a compelling and insightful session, which introduced the concept of the “Digital Native” – a term she applies to a demographic, which currently forms a large part of the workforce and will form the majority in the next 10 – 15 years.

So who are the “Digital Natives” and why are they important?

Put simply, the term refers to a generation, who have grown up with and embraced the power of fingertip technology. Whether at home, at college or at work, they consume technology on a daily basis using multiple devices; in the same way as they buy a loaf of bread or a cup of coffee. It’s an integral part of their lives and one of the main ways they interact and communicate with the world around them. They are the new mobile workforce.

They are employees who have smart phones for personal reasons, are very tech savvy and identify quick ways of getting apps to help them to work more efficiently or better organise their personal lives. They are individuals who demand corporate network access for their mobile devices as they are using third party apps to share business information, making them more flexible and more productive.

“Digital natives” want to have data on demand. So many IT managers are now telling me that third party email systems are being used by employees within the business so that they can work from home. In some cases, apps such as Dropbox are being used as a storage solution that can be accessed from a range of devices. Similarly, apps such as Keynote and Evernote are growing in popularity.

These developments have fuelled an explosion in the demand from businesses for mobile device management. These mobile devices are slowly creeping onto the network infrastructure, sometimes by stealth, and this is forcing IT managers to contemplate access for these devices and in tandem, the formulation of corporate policy to address this “Bring Your Own Device” scenario. In some cases, I have already observed organisations give employees a mobile allowance to purchase the smart phone of their choice and connect it to the corporate network.

The management of these devices is something that companies are now challenged with. Ignoring our insatiable appetite for mobility is not an option. The demand for device-independent connectivity should be embraced as something that will help companies attract progressive employees; employees who will use the latest technology to work more efficiently and make a greater contribution to corporate life.

For more information on Mobile Device Management, contact your MJF account manager.

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Is Windows 8 Really a Game Changer?

By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology

A release date of October 26, was announced recently for Microsoft’s Windows 8 – perhaps the most anticipated release ever, of the company’s new desktop operating system. And since then there has been a lot of noise and excitement across all media.

Windows 8 with its new touch screen interface and enhanced desktop features could just be the game changer we are all waiting for.

I have been using Windows 8 now for a little over 8 months; I installed the Beta version and then the consumer release version. So while the Beta version had its issues – small as they were – the consumer version is very impressive.

It is a radical aesthetic change from the desktop as we know it, but a more progressive change that for the first time acknowledges how we consume information and process daily work-related activity. The desktop view looks very like the Windows Mobile 7 interface, which is something I have been used to for well over a year now. It’s tile based but the tiles are apps that tie into applications on the desktop and integrate to servers and cloud services seamlessly, presenting the information in a live feed scenario.

Take the People Hub form example: not only does it hold all your exchange contacts but you can add personal accounts like Facebook, or more business oriented accounts like LinkedIn or Twitter, which straddle both for most. The beauty of the People Hub is that any changes my contacts make across a number of platforms are captured and displayed in one single place; no need for multiple apps to interface with multiple platforms.

The new desktop interface is sleek and fast and for those traditionalists, the standard desktop view can be activated at the click of an icon.

Do be pre-warned though that the start button is gone. I’m not sure how that will sit with most users, but the search functionality of Windows 8 is the best that Microsoft has ever delivered. It’s not an over-exaggeration to say it’s very quick; the device doesn’t even seem like it’s trying hard at all, and I tested this on a standard device with an inferior Windows 7 spec. Finding documents and apps has never been easier.

But the really exciting development with Windows 8 is that it is touch enabled. I personally don’t have a touch tablet so that experience is lost on me from a day to day basis, however I did have a chance to play with one such touch device in Toronto at Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference, and it was just as slick as the device they hope to compete with the Apple iPad.

The touch interface was fast and smooth, with fluid animations that are very attractive to the eye. With the introduction of this new generation of networkable tablets, those brave enough among us could envisage a future where the true merging of devices and the death of the standard desktop could become a reality.

With so many people now requesting the ability to work flexibly, these devices meet the demand for the anytime, anywhere workplace.

I currently carry two devices; my iPad to allow me to work effectively without needing to use Word, Excel or any other day to day tools and then my laptop for when I have too. But what about a life where I had one device, for everything that was the same size as my iPad but had a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse for when I was in the office. Well that day is coming and in October I will be an early adopter and I will put my iPad in the closet along with my clunky laptop and start exploring this new tablet/laptop/desktop all in one.

Is Microsoft’s Windows 8 a game changer? I believe it is and a very welcome one too. Roll on October.

For more information on Windows 8 see the following: Windows 8 Release Preview