The end of the digital beginning
How do we reconfigure the use of technology in the workplace for a new, digital generation? Antigone Anagnostellis reports on an expert presentation.
Almost half of Australian workers under 30 believe that the current use of technology in the workplace is misunderstood or underdeveloped, according to a new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Megan Brownlow, Executive Director of Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook at PicewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) e at the 2012 Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers’ Association (PANPA) Future Forum on the importance of digital integration not only for media-based organisations but the workplace of the younger generation, ‘The millennials’.
“These youngsters are a very big part of whether we’ll able to adopt digital practices work-wise,” Ms Brownlow said.
“Certainly from a consumer point of view for the media companies it’s already there – we’re at the end of the digital beginning.”
The “Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012-2016” found that 78 per cent of ‘millennials’ believe access to their preferred technology at work would make them more efficient, but that the implementation needs to be shifted from the individual to the organisation.
“Senior management can see Internet use at work as a time-waster, often the social networking sites are switched on between 12 and 2,” Ms Brownlow said.
But the working day is no longer nine-to-five, we see these new workers responding to mail at any time after those hours.”
The report suggests that digital forms are now central to the activity of most media organisations but revenues are not catching up with the change in consumer behaviour, with most companies electing to undergo ‘major surgery’ of their structures.
Australians already have a high rate of smartphone use and this is expected to rise. PwC forecasts a 68 per cent smartphone penetration rate in Australia by 2016, a steep increase from 17 per cent in 2011.
In order to encourage users to access the remote content, especially at work, the user interaction needs to continue outside of face-to-face events into social media.
“It’s a tool – yes, a lot of it is personal but some of it is about building contacts and networks and information,” Ms Brownlow said.
“It’s what we used to do at the pub and they do it in a technology sense now.”
With declining consumer spending rates on newspapers, traditional media forms need to examine how best to engage their audiences again. This may create a situation where we see an increase in access to the vast amount of material online, or on mobile devices, but not necessarily ownership.
“We don’t want to own the content anymore we just want to stream it, looking at subscription services including music,” Ms Brownlow said.
For the ‘millennials’ who feel that the workplace has not caught up to the personal consumption of technology, it could be an issue of sticking to the current structure, instead of experimentation.
“It’s different in the digital world there’s a constant stream of experimentation, it’s scratchy around the edges it’s not super-polished,” Ms Brownlow said.
“The amazing thing about the net is there’s a lot of not super-polished stuff there but it’s still very popular.”