IDC: Asia's professionals most connected

Executives in the region are most connected by way of multiple devices and applications, according to a recent global study.

Executives in the Asia-Pacific region lead the world in terms of connectivity, with most being connected to work and play by multiple devices and applications, according to a recent IDC global study.

With a growing number of executives using multiple devices and applications to stay connected to work, this phenomenon is expected to escalate over the next few years, said IDC.

The Nortel-commissioned study found 16 percent of workers were "hyperconnected"--defined as those using a "minimum of seven devices" and "at least nine applications" such as instant messaging, Web conferencing and social networks.

With a sizable proportion of 36 percent of respondents falling in the next category--using at least four devices and six or more applications--the trend toward increasing connectivity will push this segment into "hyperconnectivity". As a result, IDC predicts the proportion of "hyperconnected" users to hit 40 percent in five years.

IDC said one factor contributing to this trend is the entrance of younger employees to the workforce, who are more readily embracing connectivity.

Worker connectivity in China and the United States was ranked higher than average, with Canada and the United Arab Emirates trailing toward the bottom.

Additionally, 80 percent of respondents in the Asia-Pacific region connect to the Internet at home with more than one device--higher than the global average of 70 percent.

China on the 'bleeding edge'
While the global average 'hyperconnectivity' is rated at 16 percent today and expected to hit 40 percent in five years, it is perhaps notable that China and Hong Kong's connectivity already surpassed that, at 45 percent.

According to Nortel Asia CIO Eric Lauzon, China's enterprises are leading by providing "bleeding edge applications and technologies" to support the growth of firms in China. He cited usage examples including telepresence, virtual worlds, fleet tracking systems and unified communications.

Lauzon said: "Acceptance of work during personal time is another factor for the high incidence of the hyperconnected in China. China leads all 17 countries globally in terms of information workers doing work-related texting in places such as the car, in bed, entertainment events and airplanes."

Lauzon noted that China is unique in that it has more mobile phone lines than landlines.

"When 3G takes off, it will have a great impact...providing a better infrastructure. However, the real explosion will happen when we see 4G happening.

"Networks today are still not well-equipped to handle the full extent of 'hyperconnectivity'," said Lauzon, adding that the advent of 4G will afford a much richer user experience.

John Gantz, IDC senior vice president and chief research officer said of the figures: "This means that the surveyed workforce isn't just migrating towards hyperconnectivity--it is stampeding to it...the 'hyperconnected' workforce is coming and [businesses] had better be ready."

Lauzon noted that the trend toward increased connectivity is inevitable because demand is coming from the ground up, and that CIOs have to prepare for the increased number of devices needing to be connected, as well as to better plan the security frameworks which will govern this new wave.

Lauzon said a number of Nortel's customers are still debating whether or not to put IP-based networks into their enterprise.

"In general, we find that companies are not prepared to tackle the challenges of 'hyperconnectivity' and have not fully realized the next wave of devices that will be connected to networks," he said.