Hyperconnectivity Impact

The title of an IDC white paper released in May and sponsored by Nortel, A Global Look at the Exploding ‘Culture of Connectivity’ and Its Impact on the Enterprise, makes the content of the study apparent.

For the study IDC surveyed, “2,367 men and women across 17 countries in various industries, company size classes, and age segments.” All respondents were fully employed, over 17 years old, used a PC at work, and owned or used a PDA or mobile phone for either business or personal activities, and had access to the Internet.

From the survey results IDC distilled four distinct clusters of users. Barebones Users, Passive Online, Increasingly Connected, and Hyperconnected. Barebones Users, at the low-end of the connectivity scale are defined as: “Those who are online but pretty much stick to email, desktop access to the Internet, and cell phone use for voice calls.” The other end of the connectivity spectrum is reserved for the Hyperconnected: “Those who have fully embraced the brave new world, with more devices per capita than the other clusters and more intense use of new communications applications. They liberally use technology devices and applications for both personal and business use.”

The largest of the clusters, comprised of 36 percent of respondents, is the Increasingly Connected while the smallest is Hyperconnected (with just 16 percent of respondents). However, the trend is toward more connectivity: The number of Hyperconnecteds is set for growth. As older workers retire, the percent of those Hyperconnected will rise to 25 percent within a few years, and assuming that some of those in the Increasingly Connected cluster move up the ladder (which is the trend) the Hyperconnected could reach 40 percent in that same time period.

This scenario is not exclusive to North America, “the quest for personal connectivity has no national boundaries.” Looking globally, “the country with the highest percentage of hyper-connected respondents in the study was China, the country with the highest percentage of increased Hyperconnectivity was Russia.” Of the 17 countries included in the study Canada and the United Arab Emirates had the lowest number of hyperconnected respondents.

A number of factors contribute to a country’s ‘connectivity landscape,’ and its ‘culture of connectivity’ according to IDC. These factors include telecommunications infrastructure quality and coverage, workforce demographics, and the mix of small, medium, and large companies. Social or work environment, urban density, and the acceptance of working on personal time are also factors. However, though each country may have a unique connectivity landscape, there are two characteristics common to all: inexorable growth of hyperconnected individuals and the need for enterprises to be on top of this growth if they are to compete in the global marketplace.

The report sums up enterprises’ need to prepare: “Enterprises will either manage this migration or get trampled.”

IDC notes that “One of the most striking – although perhaps not surprising – results of the survey is the degree to which personal connectivity is blending with work connectivity.” Generally speaking, this blurring of the personal and business boundary is at the heart of the challenges which enterprises will contend with. With the lack of distinction between business and personal use of devices, applications, and connectivity, “enterprises may find themselves supporting personal use.” With this comes headaches over security, privacy, and management. Balancing the two, work and personal, is also an issue: “Companies will not only need to develop policies and strategies to help employees find that balance, but may face legal or union issues with merged personal and business activities.”

Furthermore, as the anytime/anyplace workforce grows more connected and younger it will treat hyperconnectivity and its devices as a condition for employment; enterprises will deploy applications to maintain workers – these applications will themselves need to be maintained. Finally, “The dependency of the hyperconnected on the devices and applications that make them hyperconnected raises the importance of network and application reliability, security, and availability even higher than it is today.”

IDC’s report goes into much more detail as to how inevitable the transition to hyperconnectedness is and what the impact on the enterprise will be. However, if there are any questions as to the importance of preparation they conclude with this: “What we have learned about the state of Hyperconnectivity today, its pace of adoption, and its observable impact on organizations suggests a clear call to action.”

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