Boomers prefer PCs, but Gen Y wants smart phone

Accenture reveals stark contrasts between Baby Boomers and Generation Y in a recent survey

Issuing corporate smart phones isn't just about catering to the preferences of the next generation. As a lower-cost alternative to company laptops, mobile phones might be better suited to the current economic climate.

Global consulting firm Accenture Ltd. revealed stark contrasts between Baby Boomers and Generation Y in a recent survey that polled 3,000 adults across the U.S. on their consumer electronics preferences and habits.

According to the survey, 50 per cent of Boomers (aged 45 and up) prefer computers over all other consumer technology products, while 27 per cent prefer mobile handsets. Of the Gen Y (18 to 24 years old) users polled, 51 per cent would rather use mobile handsets and only 22 per cent prefer PCs.

"As the mobile platform evolves, it's going to become a more important terminal to the corporate network than the traditional laptop," said Kumu Puri, senior executive at Accenture's consumer technology practice.

Puri recommended enterprise IT departments start thinking about where mobile applications are going to be used. "With Gen Y, as they grow up in the workplace, it will be a lot more about the mobile platform, which is a pretty big difference from where most enterprise applications are used today," she said.

Mobile applications are already being geared towards enterprise use, according to Tim Hickernell, lead analyst at Info-Tech Research Group Inc.

While integration with mobile phones has mostly focused on personal information management (PIM) such as integrating scheduling and client data, there is a lot of movement towards enabling really functional types of transaction capabilities, said Hickernell.

"For example, ERP and CRM vendors are already extending not only their own clients but also fully functional Web clients to these phones as well for transactions to continue to be done from the field within the CRM system or various ERP systems," he said.

The ability to fully manipulate data within word processing documents, spreadsheets and presentations is "still not there yet," added Hickernell, but this is to a certain extent "ripe for change."

Enterprises already have the opportunity to issue smart phones or leverage existing devices for employees who simply need access to corporate e-mail.

"This generation in particular is more likely to actually prefer their corporate e-mail if they need it on one of these smart phones than lugging around a laptop that needs to be booted up and connected to the Internet," said Hickernell.

But issuing corporate smart phones isn't just about catering to the preferences of the next generation. As a lower-cost alternative to company laptops, mobile phones might be better suited to the current economic climate.

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Jennifer Kavur

ComputerWorld Canada
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