I'm nobody's fan boy. I don't love any particular brand. Never have. Never will. It's not in my DNA. I love my family, I love food and wine and dinner conversation, I love making music with the band, and I love to ride my bike on Metro West roads with a buncha guys. I don't love products.
But I do love great technology that improves lives and businesses. That's my calling card and the reason I work at Forrester Research.
We have lots of data and analysis that illuminates the future. It's our stock in trade. Data like the level of enterprise IT support for BYO phones (46% provide some support). Or the number of working Americans that own a mobile phone (84%) or a smartphone (7.4%). BTW, this data shows where the real growth potential in this market is.
So what matters in the smartphone platform enterprise wars? Great products, stellar service, attractive prices, and memorable marketing matter of course. But in my experience with platforms wars and device wars through the ages, some other things will matter as well:
BYO phones will matter a lot because it allows firms to deliver the amazing benefits of smartphones to more people at lower cost. And that puts the decision into the hands of an individual (though perhaps from an approved list. [Forrester clients should ping me to see this data; it's an important shift in the market.]
Our last post on Gen X using Web 2.0 at work generated a lot of buzz in other blog posts, particularly at ReadWriteWeb.
One of the biggest comments had to do with how generations are defined.
At Forrester, we spent about a month looking at this question back in 2006 when we did our first generational analysis of the use of technology. (We've since updated that work in "The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2008" -- available to Forrester clients.)
The more we looked, the more we realized that nobody frickin' knows. So we did what we comes naturally -- we researched it. We canvassed the universe. We read all the books and talked to a bunch of experts, mostly from the Agency world, where they know a thing or two about generations.
Since nobody had a definitive set, we create them based on blended average of the best references out there. Then we added a Forrester twist: What technology era does it correspond to? (Meaning, when they were teenagers, what technology was new to them.)
Gen Y: 1980-1991. This group started spending money in the mobile era -- it's still their defining characteristic. Mobile texting, making party plans on the fly while out, carrying their identity around in their phones, that's Gen Y. They don't think twice, they just do it. This group would love to use social media at work, but mobile's good enough for now thank you very much. They are 50% more likely to text while at work as Gen X (51% versus 36%.) As far as showing the rest of us the path forward, it's probably leading by example at this point in their careers.
How do information workers -- people that use computers or smartphones in their job -- spend their days?
We set out to answer that question using our new Workforce Technographics(R) data. In our launch survey to understand how regular people use computers, smartphones, and applications to get their work done, we surveyed 2,001 people in the US with jobs in which they use a computer. We asked about all kinds of things, including how much time they spend with their computers and phones, which applications they use daily or even hourly, what applications they find indispensable, whether they work mostly with other employees or with customers or partners, and much more.
Our first report is a quick snapshot of a day in the life of an information worker (iWorker). (We'll be sharing a lot more data at a Webinar on Thursday at 11 AM ET; register here.)For example, did you know that:
Gen X (not Gen Y) is the most likely to use Web 2.0 technology to get their job done?
Smartphones are available to only 11% of US information workers?
Email is still the only application used on an hourly basis by most iWorkers?
Employees are people, too.They just don't look like you. At least most of them don't. To understand what your workforce needs from technology and from you, you have to walk a mile in their shoes.
That's hard to do -- not to mention darn uncomfortable at times! But it is possible to get to know your workforce by grouping them by who they are and what they need from you. There are three techniques that consumer market researchers have developed over the last 40 years to do just that:
Surveys to analyze and segment the workforce. This is step one and something that we'll drill into more detail on over the next few blog posts. Asking good questions, making sure everybody's represented, doing analysis that helps you answer your key questions, this is where the best analysis begins. You'll come up with segments like "technology enthusiasts" and "road warriors."
Focus groups to bring the segments to life. Once the segments are identified, you can invite 5 or 6 people to come in and talk about what they do and what they need from technology. This gives you the "why" and the "how" to go along with the "what" that the survey and segmentation provide. With focus groups, a road warrior starts to look like a real person.