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We're All Going to Be 'Digital Natives'

Brian Prentice, Research VP, Gartner
Thursday, May 26, 2016
Brian Prentice, Research VP, Gartner
Headquartered in Stamford, Gartner is a research and consultancy company that provides business-critical research data to organizations worldwide, thus enabling them efficiently manage their IT infrastructure and enhance business performance.

The concept of 'digital natives' versus 'digital immigrants' is increasingly problematic.Since education consultant Marc Prensky coined the term 'digital native' in a 2001 article, the concept of digital natives and digital immigrants has moved well beyond the scope of education to become a common meme in the enterprise. Leaders in both private and public sector enterprises often speak about the need to source technology and adapt it to the needs of digital natives. They express great concern that the tools of late 20th to early 21st century collaboration are ill-suited to a workforce increasingly made up of millennials.

One of the obvious flaws in this concept is the idea that someone's age exclusively dictates digital technology prowess, when in fact it is significantly shaped by race, class, geography and cultural background. There is also often an assumption - one prone to be anecdotal and prejudicial - that the technology young people use for interaction outside work directly translates into expectations inside a work environment.

This is a far more compelling and inclusive way to think about technology than a dichotomous world of digital 'HAVEs' and 'HAVE NOTs'. It is also much more likely that this type of approach will lead to improvements in employee engagement.

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