The Naysaying of the Digital Native

Posted by Kate Jurras on Mon, Sep 10, 2012

AN resized 600This post is part of the September blog series. With FutureM coming in October (do you have your pass yet?!), we're thinking a lot about marketers and consumers, and this series reflects that. We asked our writers to answer this question: "what is it going to take for marketers to catch up to consumers?" We'll be sharing several posts each week of the month. Stay tuned for diverse viewpoints and creative answers to this question. This post is by Andrea M. Naddaff, Partner, Corey McPherson Nash. Andrea is a Partner and Vice President of Business Development at Corey McPherson Nash, a national branding and design agency developing thoughtful solutions for clients in business, education, healthcare and consumer.

Recently a friend corresponded with an intern candidate who shared – sent from her iPhone – that she was “def interested in the job 4 the experience.” Aptly said from the mouth of a digital native. This intern of today/professional of tomorrow (her resume clearly pointed to some potential) may well be prepared for 21st century communications from a platform perspective; I’m sure she’s texting 60-70 words per minute. The problem is the platform itself is turning communication into crud.

The question then becomes how will the digital native adapt and integrate into business etiquette today, or will technology and mobility so severely shape the style of communication for tomorrow, that we’ll all be speaking the language of chat? Foregone will be the good old fashion thank you letter. The line between use of mobile tools to help rather than hinder is a close one to cross and this next generation needs to figure it out if they’re to use the tools to become effective leaders.

There’s no doubt the impact mobile devices are playing in communications today, and it’s not just in business. We text caregivers to see how our kids are doing, we order subs from the local pizza joint on our iPads, we e-read the latest John Grisham prior to the book club review. Mobile technology has provided for a culture of connectivity that in many ways makes us more productive individuals. And, we’re only going to become more reliant on mobile devices for communication. According to Pew Research Center, nearly half (46%) of American adults are smartphone owners as of February 2012 and that number is expected to grow exponentially.

And let’s not forget how mobile technology is driving the doldrums of education today, breathing new life into stale schoolward thinking. Not only do students have access to more information, they’re organizing themselves in new ways, connecting with the world beyond any boundaries, and sharing and learning from a community of experiences. In a report issued earlier this year, Piper Jaffray estimated that a third of US high school students currently own iPhones.

Regardless of how you weigh the pros or the cons of what mobility will bring, its footprint is unfading and the digital native will be better prepared than previous generations to appreciate it. Whether the previous generation will accept the digital native is yet to be seen. I’m not even sure if the intern will get the job.

My colleague, Michael McPherson, Partner, Corey McPherson Nash, and Dr. James Tracy, Headmaster, Cushing Academy will be discussing digital natives, current and emerging technology, and the educational paradigms that have been dismantled at an upcoming FutureM event. While they explore the idea of accepting the rules and tools of the business world in education, I hope they also cover off on how to properly text accept an interview.