Connecting with the connected generation

The new 2012 IBM Global Student Study clearly demonstrates that college and university students have important capabilities to bring to organizations seeking skills in today’s highly connected world. To benefit from this generation’s wealth of native expertise in social media, however, CEOs will need to clarify their leadership goals and commitments.

All customers, students included, want to be understood and appreciated when they interact with organizations. That said, students have yet to understand the level of commitment it takes to drive “customer obsession” into business strategy and operations. Among CEOs, according to the IBM Gobal CEO Study, customer obsession is the top-rated characteristic (out of 13) for their own success. Among students, on the other hand, it ranked seventh.


Using this insight, CEOs who successfully communicate to millennials their overriding focus on customers are in the best position to elicit their enthusiasm for generating and implementing new ideas for smarter commerce. This includes the use of social business for incorporating everything from smarter marketing and customer service to a smarter workforce to a smarter supply chain.

Converging expectations

Digital connections already play a major role in students’ lives. Because of social media –

  • 61% of students are more aware of global issues
  • 47% have a greater voice in society
  • 40% engage more fully  in real-life activities

At the same time, contrary to popular assumptions, students generally incorporate a balanced view of social media in their lives: only 12 percent say social media relationships have more personal meaning than real-world ones.

Organizations, too, of course, are taking a digital path to social engagement. Currently, 56 percent of CEOs see digital channels as important to customer interaction compared to 70 percent of students. Yet 84 percent of CEOs as well as students predict that over the next few years these digital channels will be important for customer interaction.

Overall, students and CEOs see eye to eye on many aspects of business and are strongly oriented toward collaboration, creativity and innovation.

While many expectations converge, it’s important to take note of the sensibilities that differ.

  • Among students, increasing social and environmental responsibility ranks third in importance out of five changes needed to meet customer expectations; among CEOs it ranked last.
  • Among students, devotion to environmental and social issues ranks fifth of 13 characteristics needed for CEO success, among CEOs themselves it ranks last.
  • Among students  work-life balance ranks third; among CEOs it ranks seventh of 13 workplace attributes.

Organizations seeking to connect with the connected generation will need to take into account, and, where appropriate, take action to meet these social and personal values. 

Download the full Student Study here.


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    We’re fucking connected!
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    Culture and Organization: the Software of Mind. The most important studies about that was made by Geert Hofstede in IBM...
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    Coup de coeur de la journee
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