The ‘Generation of Things’ Has Arrived


Realtime Generation 2015

Chris Gabriel looks at Logicalis UK's seventh Realtime Generation survey of UK teens.  With smart cities, the IoT and wearables already upon us, it’s the most revealing yet...

From way back in 2007 when we found Bebo to be the most popular social site, the Realtime Generation research has charted the rise of Facebook, vlogging and coding, to a generation that’s now aspiring to technology careers, building its own tech, planning their first connected homes and impatient for the Internet of Things…

The 2015 report positions these Realtimers as the Generation of Things; a digital-first group of consumers, more in control of data security and privacy than we are, and ready to shape their automated, connected future – if we can enable them.

The report is designed to provide a unique insight for universities, employers and Government into the expectations, concerns, and aspirations of this digital first generation.

The research surveyed over 1,100 teens in the UK, but the findings are applicable across the globe. Most countries across the developed world will have a Realtime Generation of their own - and as their digital footprints grow ever smarter, they are posing some big questions for Plc & Government. Here are just a few of the highlights:

They know the value of their data: Biometrics, Self-health monitoring and smart data share is around the corner, are we ready for the data explosion? 

Realtimers expect to be coding at work, controlling homes remotely and for delivery drones, 3D printing and connected cars to be the norm in 10 years time.

Yet, this automated future will be on their terms. Three quarters think their data is worth something, and are willing to share it if organisations can step up to provide more tailored services. It’s not without caution though, 77% are uncomfortable with third party data access. Will brands’ big data strategies be able to make reward outweigh risk, and make it worth their while?

This spells some big change for our public services in particular. 79% expect self-health monitoring and biometrics to be here by 2024 and despite its sensitivity; they see health data as amongst the most valuable (64%) to share.

With 6% already on the wearable technology journey in the first year of market availability, and 59% saying they would be comfortable using biometrics today, the scene is set for personal big data, and fast. With this smart data share just around the corner for this generation, is the NHS ready for this incoming data explosion?

They seek full control over digital footprints: Realtimers are acutely aware of data privacy and digital rights, is this generation planning to exercise their ‘right to be forgotten’?

The average Realtimer spends 6 hours a day online, owns 5 devices, engages with brands on social media (73%), and streams data -demand. Yet as adults, we underestimate them.

Three quarters said their generation is not as naïve as we think; we don’t understand how resilient they are to cybercrime, data privacy and cyberbullying. And they’re right too, the majority proactively protect themselves; more than 50% have reported offensive/inappropriate behaviour they have come across online, and 80% are changing online logins regularly.

They know how to manage the consequences and risks of online exploration more than we do, so perhaps it’s high time we gave them more credit?

More than just security, teens also understand their digital rights. 77% are aware of the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the majority agree that control over their personal data should be theirs, and theirs alone.

With a generation so confident in its data control and ownership, will we soon see them treat their online personas as whiteboards they can selectively wipe clean as they choose? And if they expect to be able make themselves ‘forgotten’ in 5 years time, perhaps businesses should prepare for big change as employees exercise their ‘Right to be Forgotten’ in the enterprise?

They demand workplace autonomy: Forget BYOD, this generation plans to ‘Build their own Technology’. Can IT departments evolve to serve the needs of these new users?

Almost 8 in 10 said that businesses will have to update their technology to meet their needs, but our findings indicate that policies and cultural change will also be key. 86% would like flexible working - in both hours and location – from their employers, and 9 in 10 want control over which devices and services they will use. Enterprise should prepare for more disruption.

Much has been made of how ‘Millenials’ brought technology change into the workplace, but Realtimers don’t just expect to be using their technology of choice for work, they expect to be purchasing it (almost 40% will source and pay for mobile apps themselves), and making it (63% will code at work).

Our findings indicate that employee control is here to stay and, with this generation at the helm, grow exponentially. The tables are turning and it’s up to traditional IT teams to learn how to act as a shadow business to enable this next generation of users. The question remains, can they do it in time?

You can read the full realtime generation report here.

Realtimers have the potential to deliver an economic return on their ICT skills, but harnessing this will mean change and action from both public and private sector organisations. As the IoT gathers momentum, that change is on the horizon and it’s positive. Amid fears of rising international privacy and security concerns, we should be confident that this is a generation so aware of their data privacy and digital rights, aspiring to live in a highly-automated and connected world, where they retain control.

Stay tuned for more findings…

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