The net is as important as air – Cisco finds

27 Sep,2011

By A Correspondent

Demonstrating the role of the network in our lives, an international workforce study announced today by Cisco revealed that one in three college students and young professionals consider the Internet to be as important as fundamental human resources like air, water, food and shelter. The 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report also found that more than half of the study’s respondents could not live without the Internet and cite it as an “integral part of their lives” – in some cases more integral than cars, dating, and partying.

These and numerous other findings provide insight into the mindset, expectations, and behaviour of the world’s next generation of workers and how they will influence everything from business communications and mobile lifestyles to hiring practices, talent retention, corporate security companies’ abilities to compete.


The second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report examines the relationship between human behavior, the Internet, and networking’s pervasiveness. It uses this relationship to provoke thoughts around how companies will remain competitive amid the influence of technology lifestyle trends. The global report, based on surveys of college students and professionals 30 years old and younger in 14 countries, provides insight into present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to balance current and future employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver information more ubiquitously – from virtualized data centers and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks.

Key Findings

Internet as One of Life’s Fundamental Resources

Air, Water, Internet: About one of every three college students and employees surveyed globally (33 percent) believes the Internet is as important as air, water, food and shelter. About half (49 percent of college students and 47 percent of employees) believe it is “pretty close” to that level of importance. Combined, four of every five college students and young employees believe the Internet is vitally important and part of their daily life’s sustenance.

In India, 95 percent of college students and young employees surveyed admitted to the Internet being as important in their lives as water, food, air and shelter.

Life’s Daily Sustenance: More than half of the respondents (55 percent of college students and 62 percent of employees) said they could not live without the Internet and cite it as an “integral part of their lives.”

The New Way to Get Around: If forced to make a choice between one or the other, the majority of college students globally – about two of three (64 percent) – would choose an Internet connections instead of a car.

The New Social Life: Internet over Love and Friendship?

First Love: Two of five college students surveyed globally (40 percent) said the Internet is more important to them than dating, going out with friends, or listening to music.

Social Life 2.0: Whereas previous generations preferred socializing in person, the next generation is indicating a shift toward online interaction. More than one in four college students globally (27 percent) said staying updated on Facebook was more important than partying, dating, listening to music, or hanging out with friends. Within certain countries, including India, updating Facebook was ranked as the highest priority, even more than hanging out with friends.

The Use of Mobile Devices for Accessing Information…and the End of TV and Newspapers?

Importance of Mobile Devices: Two-thirds of students and more than half of employees (58 percent) cite a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as “the most important technology in their lives.”

For young employees, India came second globally when it comes to importance of mobile device usage (71 percent), behind the UK (74 percent), but ahead of Australia (66 percent), China (62 percent), and the US (62 percent).

Continued Rise of Smartphones: Smartphones are poised to surpass desktops as the most prevalent tool from a global perspective, as 19 percent of college students consider smartphones as their “most important” device used on a daily basis, compared to 20 percent for desktops – an indication of the growing trend of smartphone prominence and expected rise in usage by the next generation of college graduates upon entering the workforce. This finding fans the debate over the necessity of offices compared to the ability to connect to the Internet and work anywhere, such as at home or in public settings. In the 2010 edition of the study, three of five employees globally (60 percent) said offices are unnecessary for being productive.

In India, 68 percent of young employees surveyed prefer using smartphones and consider it as their “most important” device.

TV’s Decline: Both surveys indicate that the TV’s prominence is decreasing among college students and young employees in favor of mobile devices like laptops and smartphones. Globally, less than one in 10 college students (6 percent) and employees (8 percent) said the TV is the most important technology device in their daily lives.

Paper Route’s Dead End? Only one of 25 college students and employees (4 percent) surveyed globally said the newspaper is their most important tool for accessing information.

Saving Trees: Two of five students (21 percent) have not bought a physical book (not textbooks required for class) in a bookstore in more than two years – or never at all.

Influence of Social Media – and Distractions in Daily Life

Facebook Interaction: About nine of 10 (91 percent) college students and employees (88 percent) globally said they have a Facebook account – of those, 89 percent of college students and 73 percent of employees check their Facebook page at least once a day. One-third (33 percent) said they check at least five times a day.

Of all the countries surveyed in the studies India ranked highest in the frequency of Facebook interaction, with 92 percent of students and 98 percent of employees checking it daily

Online Interruption or Disruption? College students reported constant online interruptions while doing projects or homework from IM, social media updates and phone calls. In a given hour, more than four out of five (84 percent) college students said they are interrupted at least once. About one in five students (19 percent) said they are interrupted six times or more – an average of at least once every 10 minutes. One of 10 (12 percent) said they lose count how many times they are interrupted while they are trying to focus on a project.

Work Is Life: Seven of 10 employees “friended” their managers and/or co-workers on Facebook, indicating the dissolution of boundaries separating work and private life. Culturally, the United States featured lower percentages of employees friending managers and co-workers – only about one in four (23 percent) – although two of five friended their co-workers (40 percent).

In India, 85 percent of employees surveyed confirmed adding their colleagues and managers on Facebook.

The Work Grapevine: Of employees who use Twitter, more than two of every three (68 percent) follow the Twitter activity of either their manager or colleagues; 42 percent follow both, while one-third (32 percent) prefer to keep their personal lives private.

About the Study

The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress, a third-party market research firm based in the United States.

The global study focuses on two surveys – one centering on college students, the other on a group of young professionals in their 20s. Each survey included 100 respondents from each of the 14 countries, resulting in a survey pool of 2,800 people.

The 14 countries include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, India, China, Japan, and Australia.

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