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Wiki’s, Blogs, IM’s…Oh, My

At the Enterprise 2.0 Conference this week in Boston, Cisco’s SVP of Emerging Technologies Marthin De Beer discussed the demand of Web 2.0 Tech tools on the job by younger workers entering the workforce . In an Information Week story, De Beer was quoted as saying,”The upcoming generation is going to have a major impact on business. She will expect to have access to her tools in the workplace.” You may have also seen a recent Fortune cover story on 20 somethings entering the workforce.Obviously, there has been a lot of conversation lately around the effect of the new”twentysomething,” or generation Y workers, joining the scene who are used to constant communication, using web 2.0 applications in daily life and are considered to be over stimulated by the inundation of information that is at their fingertips at every second. Being a”twentysomething” generation Y-er myself who has recently entered the workforce, these conversations have definitely grabbed my attention.I previously haven’t put much thought into the way that I work, collaborate, talk with my friends or even studied. After my reflections on this topic, I have found the depiction of my generation to be very true. I myself, go on Myspace at least once a day, spend more free time on the internet than I do watching TV and have found that I sometimes talk more to friends and family through text messaging and IM than in person or over the phone. I also mastered the art of multi-tasking through college while I somehow was productive studying while listening to my i-pod, chatting with multiple friends on IM and throwing in a few Myspace searches or shopping sprees at my favorite online stores. This way of life did not just go away after college or stay in my personal life, but rather it has shifted to the way I work on the job and interact with my colleagues. I now IM and text with colleagues and rather than updating my Myspace, I am”spiffying” up my team’s wiki where we are able to collaborate, recognize accomplishments and share ideas. We have internal and external blogs in place and with the hundreds of Cisco videos and vods (video’s on demand) being produced daily along with multiple podcasts, I am in no shortage of stimulation or information. Oh, and we can’t forget about the oh-so-cool TelePresence. So if I had to say so, and I will, Cisco is doing a pretty good job at keeping up with the demand of the Web 2.0 tech tools on the job. I can’t even begin to imagine what the next generation of workers are going to be demanding of me and my peers-

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  1. Excellent question, Linda. As a member of the (rapidly aging) preceding generation as well, I offer the following thoughts:1) Yes, there will be hinking time"" but it will happen faster and will be shorter (probably not the answer you were hoping for!)2) A more reasoned answer is that ""thinking time"" will be expanded, but will involve more people... the very definition of ""collaboration."" Rather than soliciting the lonely thoughts from a series of individual contributors, business leaders will be able to more rapidly engage the collective ""wisdom of the crowds"" (but also be mindful of its evil alter-ego, ""groupthink"") through enhanced collaboration.3) Even as an individual contributor, your “thinking time” will be enhanced because as you work through issues, you’ll have the opportunity to tap into the thought of your colleagues through IM (instantaneously) or via a wiki (an easy archive for institutional knowledge.)4) Fortunately all this stuff runs on electricity. When too many people are tapping into the your wisdom do what I do… go to the café, grab a coffee and yank out the plug/battery of any piece of electronics around you."

  2. I noticed the phrase disruptive technologies"" expressed in the prior comment. As one of the preceding generation, I wonder if ""thinking time"" is possible in the frenetic environment you describe?"

  3. Your example of using your experience updating your MySpace"" page and applying it to updating your team’s Wiki is an excellent one. A company can deploy all the collaboration technology it wants, but if it doesn't have bright people who know how to use these technologies to their fullest potential, then all is for naught. We are entering an interesting era in the evolution of corporate cultures. People entering the workforce are now expert in disruptive technologies that scarcely existed a few years ago. The incredible speed in which these technologies have been developed and mastered by young people will highlight differences in the innate ability to collaborate between new workers and more experienced ones.""Generation-Ys"" such as yourself have the unique challenge of leading a change in corporate culture to embrace these technologies to their fullest potential."